LSU Invitational Event Preview

BATON ROUGE – As the LSU track and field program prepares to host the likes of Texas AM, Illinois, Iowa, Connecticut and Army in Saturday’s scored competition for the LSU Invitational, the event will feature an impressive field of athletes with five NCAA individual event champions and three NCAA relay champions among those scheduled to compete.

Not only that, but the event features nine athletes who have finished among the top three of an individual event and six relay teams that have finished among the top three in an event at the NCAA Championships during either the 2010 outdoor season or 2011 indoor season.

The afternoon session will begin at 2 p.m. CDT at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium following an opening ceremony, while the team champions at the inaugural LSU Invitational will be crowned immediately after the running of the 4×400-meter relays at approximately 5:30 p.m.

The morning session is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. with the women’s javelin on the west runway, while the field events will continue through the men’s hammer throw at 3:30 p.m.

Teams will be competing with the standard NCAA Championships scoring format of 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1, as 10 points will be awarded to the first-place finisher down to one point being awarded to the eighth-place finisher in each individual event. In addition, one relay for each squad entered in the meet will be allowed to score in both the 4×100-meter relay and 4×400-meter relay.

Listed below are the events that are sure to decide the men’s and women’s team champions in the meet as they feature many of the NCAA’s elite athletes with All-America aspirations this season.

Key Matchups at the 2011 LSU Invitational

Men’s Javelin Throw – 11:30 a.m.
Texas AM sophomore Sam Humphreys is set to open his 2011 outdoor campaign following a freshman season in 2010 in which he finished the season ranked No. 3 on the NCAA performance list with a best of 251 feet, 8 inches. In his debut at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Humphreys was honored as an All-American with a sixth-place finish. The field also features two other NCAA Championships veterans with Iowa sophomore Matt Byers (232-2) and LSU junior Aaron Moore (226-8).

Men’s Long Jump – 1 p.m.
The long jump is arguably the deepest event at the collegiate level on the men’s side in 2011, as evidence by nine athletes eclipsing the 26-foot mark during the recent indoor campaign. Two 26-foot jumpers will be in the field this weekend led by LSU’s senior All-American Zedric Thomas and sophomore star Damar Forbes. Thomas, who set a lifetime PR of 26-6 ¼ at the Tyson Invitational back on Feb. 12, earned a fifth career All-America honor with a seventh-place finish in the event at this year’s NCAA Indoor meet. In his sophomore season indoors, Forbes also set a lifetime record of 26-3 in qualifying for the national meet for the first time. Texas AM senior Tyron Stewart will also compete in the event with a PR of 25-8. Also in the meet is LSU junior Kyron Blaise, who jumped 25-6 ¼ indoors in 2011.

Women’s 4×100-Meter Relay – 2 p.m.
In the first event on the track during Saturday’s action, the women’s 4×100-meter relay will showcase this weekend a battle between the nation’s two most dominant sprint relay teams over the past three seasons in LSU and Texas AM. The Aggies, who set a 2010 seasonal best of 42.56 seconds, are the three-time defending NCAA Outdoor champions in the event after taking the national crown in 2008, 2009 and 2010 during that span. The Lady Tigers, who ranked No. 3 on the NCAA performance list during the 2010 year with a top time of 43.25, has finished runner-up to Texas AM in the national final in 2008 and 2010.

Men’s 4×100-Meter Relay – 2:05 p.m.
Like the women’s sprint relay, the men’s 4×100-meter relay is sure to provide an NCAA finals preview as the Tigers and Aggies are among the national championship contenders again in 2011. The Tigers already own a 2011 seasonal best of 38.87 that was set last weekend at the LSU Tiger Relays. LSU is in search of its first national title in the event since 2008, while the Tigers also placed second in 2009 and third in 2010 at the NCAA Championships. Texas AM, which finished as the NCAA runner-up to LSU in 2008, has also qualified for the national final in each of the last two seasons.

Men’s 800-Meter Run – 2:40 p.m.
Saturday’s final of the men’s 800-meter run will feature a head-to-head battle between two of the nation’s leading half milers in Connecticut senior Michael Rutt and Iowa junior Erik Sowinski. After setting a best of 1 minute, 47.41 seconds during the regular season, Rutt capped the 2011 indoor season with an NCAA runner-up finish in the event final at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Rutt is also eyeing a return trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, where he placed 13th in the national semifinal last summer. Sowinski followed Rutt with a fourth-place finish in the NCAA final during the indoor championships while ending the 2011 indoor season with a top time of 1:47.98 in qualifying for the national meet.

Women’s 100-Meter Hurdles – 2:50 p.m.
Perhaps one of the most competitive races on the women’s side during the inaugural LSU Invitational this weekend will be the 100-meter hurdles as Lady Tiger senior Tenaya Jones and freshman Jasmin Stowers will go up against the likes of Texas AM senior All-American Natasha Ruddock and Illinois senior standout Tamika Robinson for the title. After earning indoor All-America honors with a sixth-place finish in her first career NCAA Championships appearance, Stowers clocked a wind-legal PR and NCAA-leading time of 13.15 at the LSU Tiger Relays this past weekend. Jones has already run 13.28 outdoors in 2011 after placing ninth at the NCAA Indoor meet. Ruddock, who has been injured for much of 2011, is a talented hurdler who owns a wind-legal PR of 12.87 in the 100-meter hurdles. Robinson is also an NCAA Championships veteran after placing 10th in the national semifinal of the 100 hurdles a season ago.

Men’s 110-Meter Hurdles – 3 p.m.
In what might be the most exciting event of this year’s LSU Invitational, the men’s 110-meter hurdles will feature the nation’s two most dominant collegiate sprint hurdles from the 2010 and 2011 seasons. In what is sure to be a preview of the national final in June, defending NCAA Outdoor champion Andrew Riley of Illinois and NCAA Outdoor runner-up Barrett Nugent of LSU will go head-to-head to see which has the early-season advantage. Nugent also finished runner-up to Riley in the national final at the NCAA Indoor Championships held just over two weeks ago in College Station, Texas. The race also features this year’s NCAA Indoor eighth-place finisher in Wayne Davis III of Texas AM, as well as NCAA Indoors qualifier Jordan Mullen of Iowa and NCAA Outdoors qualifier Domonick Sylve of Army.

Women’s 400-Meter Dash – 3:10 p.m.
NCAA Indoor champion Jessica Beard of Texas AM is set to make her 2011 outdoor debut on Saturday in the women’s 400-meter dash in the wake of her dominating victory at the NCAA Indoor Championship when she clocked a new indoor personal record of 50.79 in the event. Beard is also a three-time NCAA runner-up in the event while owning a lifetime PR of 50.65. This year’s 400-meter field also features such relay All-Americans as Rebecca Alexander, Jonique Day and Latoya McDermott from LSU and freshman Ibukun Mayungbe of Texas AM.

Men’s 400-Meter Dash – 3:15 p.m.
The reigning men’s NCAA Indoor 400-meter champion will also make his outdoor season debut at Bernie Moore Stadium on Saturday as Aggie senior Demetrius Pinder will compete against a host of 400-meter dash and 4×400-meter relay All-Americans in Tabarie Henry and Bryan Miller of Texas AM and Ade Alleyne-Forte, Riker Hylton, Robert Simmons and Caleb Williams of LSU. Pinder took home the NCAA Indoor crown by clocking an indoor PR of 45.33 in the national final. Henry also picked up a fourth-place finish at the national meet to earn All-America honors for the 2011 indoor season.

Women’s 100-Meter Dash – 3:25 p.m.
A trio of All-America performers will highlight what is sure to be an exciting final in the women’s 100-meter dash Saturday, led by the LSU duo of senior Kenyanna Wilson and Semoy Hackett and Texas AM junior Jeneba Tarmoh. Tarmoh, who owns a legal PR of 11.19 in the event, placed third nationally in the 100-meter final at the NCAA Championships a year ago. She also picked up indoor All-American honors this month with a national runner-up finish in the 200-meter dash. Wilson picked up All-America honors for the Lady Tigers with a bronze-medal winning third-place finish in the 60-meter final, while Hackett earned her first career All-America honor at LSU with an eighth-place finish. Hackett owns a PR of 11.18 and Wilson owns a PR of 11.20 in the 100-meter dash.

Men’s 100-Meter Dash – 3:30 p.m.
Texas AM senior Gerald Phiri and LSU junior Horatio Williams are expected to battle one another for the men’s 100-meter title on Saturday afternoon after leading their respective teams at the NCAA Indoor Championships earlier this month. They faced off in the 60-meter dash final at the national meet, where Williams placed sixth and Phiri placed seventh en route to earning All-America honors in the event. Phiri owns a PR of 10.13 and Williams owns a PR of 10.26 in the 100-meter dash. The event also features two former No. 1-ranked sprint recruits nationally from the state of Texas in LSU freshman Rynell Parson and Texas AM freshman Prezel Hardy, Jr., along with LSU senior All-American Gabriel Mvumvure.

Men’s Hammer Throw – 3:30 p.m.
Saturday’s men’s hammer throw event will feature the 2011 outdoor season opener for LSU’s defending NCAA champion Walter Henning, who enters the meet with an impressive streak of 17-straight wins with collegiate competition dating back to the start of the 2010 indoor season. Henning, who has already retained his NCAA Indoor title in the weight throw this season, owns a PR of 239-5 in the hammer throw. LSU All-American Michael Lauro will also make his 2011 debut as he enters the competition with a best of 217-8 while placing 12th at the NCAA Championships a year ago.

Women’s 200-Meter Dash – 4:10 p.m.
After running the 100-meter dash earlier in the afternoon, Duncan and Hackett will return to the track for the Lady Tigers to open up their outdoor season in the 200-meter dash. Duncan wrapped up a breakout indoor campaign being crowned the NCAA Indoor 200-meter champion at the indoor national meet when she clocked a winning time of 22.85 in the final. She also captured the SEC Indoor title in the event while setting a lifetime PR of 22.78 at the conference meet. Hackett finished runner-up to Duncan at the SEC Championships with a 2011 best of 22.84, while she also went on to earn All-America honors in the event with a sixth-place finish nationally. The field also features Texas AM All-American Dominique Duncan who was also an indoor All-American this year with a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor meet.

Men’s 200-Meter Dash – 4:20 p.m.
Horatio Williams is also set to make his 2011 outdoor debut for the Tigers in the 200-meter dash Saturday after receiving All-America recognition indoors with his fourth-place finish nationally in the NCAA final in which he clocked a new indoor PR of 20.66. Williams owns an outdoor PR of 20.40 in the event he set during his freshman season at Hinds Community College in 2009. Mvumvure, who showed great form for the 2011 indoor season while setting a new indoor PR of 20.96 en route to spot at the national meet, owns a wind-legal outdoor PR of 20.72 in the event.

Women’s 4×400-Meter Relay – 5:15 p.m.
Like the 4×100-meter relay, LSU and Texas AM field two of the nation’s elite mile relay teams year in and year out, and this year looks to be no different following their performance at the NCAA Indoor meet this month. The Aggies captured their second NCAA Indoor title in the event in three seasons after setting an indoor school record of 3:29.72 at the national meet. Texas AM also finished runner-up at the NCAA Outdoor Championships a year ago after clocking 3:28.57 in the national final. The Lady Tigers finished within one second of a national title indoors this season after clocking 3:30.37 for a third-place finish. The team also placed third in the final at the NCAA Outdoor meet to wrap up the 2010 season.

Men’s 4×400-Meter Relay – 5:25 p.m.
The inaugural LSU Invitational will end with a bang as the men’s 4×400-meter relay features three teams with an opportunity to compete for a national title at the NCAA Championships to be held in June in Des Moines, Iowa. Texas AM is not only the defending NCAA Outdoor champion in the event, but the Aggies also captured the 2011 NCAA Indoor crown with their win on March 12. The Aggies opened the outdoor season last weekend with a 3:04.92 clocking at the Arizona State Invitational. LSU, which opened the 2011 outdoor season with a national-leading time of 3:03.77 at the LSU Tiger Relays last weekend, earned an All-American eighth-place finish at this year’s NCAA Indoor meet earlier this month. In addition, Iowa features one of the nation’s elite mile relay teams after earning a fourth-place finish with its performance at this year’s indoor national meet.

 

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