FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- A trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships will be on the line this weekend for members of the top-ranked LSU track and field teams as the action at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships kicks off Friday at John McDonnell Field.
This marks the sixth year of the regional format in which athletes earn the right to compete at the NCAA Championships based on their individual placement in regional competition.
In order to automatically qualify for this year’s NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, an athlete must finish in the top five in an individual event or finish in the top three while running as a member of a relay team. The NCAA meet is scheduled for June 11-14 in Des Moines, Iowa.
“We really look at this meet as the first stage of the NCAA Championships,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “No team is able to win a national championship this weekend, but it can put a team in a good position two weeks from now. It’s important that our athletes advance to Des Moines this weekend so that they can help our teams compete for a national championship.”
While all athletes will be looking to finish in the top five of their specialty event this weekend, there is still a chance that an athlete can earn a trip to the NCAA Championships even if he or she fails to qualify automatically in regional competition.
The NCAA will issue an additional four at-large to individuals and relay teams placing within the top 12 at the regional meet based on their position on the national descending order list.
“Our athletes have turned in some outstanding performances this season, and I believe that if they make it to the final and finish this weekend that they’ll be in Des Moines,” Shaver said. “But we don’t want to leave anything to chance. They understand that they need to finish in the top five of an individual event and the top three in the relays to assure themselves a spot at the NCAA meet.”
Both the Tigers and Lady Tigers enter the weekend as the two-time defending champions of the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships after sweeping team titles in each of the past two years.
The squads dominated the competition at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships a year ago as the Lady Tigers racked up 112 points and the Tigers scored 70 points of their own to sweep titles at Audrey J. Walton Stadium on the campus of the University of Missouri.
The LSU women have dominated this meet since its inception in 2003 as they have won four of the five Mideast Regional titles in that span. After winning back-to-back in 2003 and 2004, the Lady Tigers finished runner-up in 2005 before winning consecutive titles again in 2006 and 2007.
The Tigers have won a pair of regional titles of their own in 2006 and 2007 and have never been lower than third place in the five years of the meet’s existence.
“I’m looking to give our teams the best chance to win a national championship,” Shaver said. “If we are able to win a regional championship again this year, it will be a result of our athletes taking care of their business. We’re not going to try to overdo it this weekend. All we want is for our athletes to do whatever it takes to advance to the NCAA Championships.”
LSU will be well-represented at this year’s regional championships as a total of 23 women, 22 men and both 4x100 and 4x400-meter relay teams are scheduled to compete. Six athletes and four relay teams own the top marks in 13 events in the Mideast Region heading into the weekend.
Senior Richard Thompson has proven to be the NCAA’s fastest man to this point in the season as his seasonal best times of 9.93 seconds in the 100 meters and 20.23 in the 200 meters rank No. 1 in the country for 2008. His 9.93 in the 100 is also ranked No. 2 in the world behind only the time of 9.76 recorded by Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.
The Tigers are also led by the likes of senior Elkana Kosgei, who is the region’s top performer in the 800 meters with the No. 2 time in the NCAA this season at 1 minute, 47.05 seconds. In addition, junior Chad Radgowski boasts the region’s top mark in the javelin at 237 feet, 2 inches.
Like Thompson, senior Kelly Baptiste is the region’s top-ranked performer in both the 100 meters and 200 meters as she enters the weekend with top times of 11.06 and 22.87, respectively. Her seasonal best time in the 100-meter dash currently ranks No. 2 in the NCAA.
Junior Nickiesha Wilson is also favored to double at the regional meet as she leads the way with the nation’s fastest time in the 100 hurdles with a windy 12.81 and the nation’s third-fastest time in the 400 hurdles at 55.83. Sophomore LaTavia Thomas is currently the nation’s second-ranked performer in the 800 meters for declared athletes with a regional best 2:03.22.
LSU has been dominant in the relays to this point in the season and enters the regional meet with three of the nation’s top-ranked foursomes.
The Tigers were crowned this year’s SEC champions in the 4x100-meter relay with a national leading time of 38.67 at the conference meet, while the Lady Tigers clocked the third-fastest time in collegiate history at the Penn Relays on April 25 with a seasonal best time of 42.59.
In addition, the Lady Tigers are looking to sweep NCAA titles in the 4x400-meter relay this year as they enter the weekend with the No. 1 time in the nation at 3:29.28. The squad took home the title at the NCAA Indoor Championships back in March after winning the outdoor crown in 2007.
The Tigers’ 4x400 relay has won the regional title in four of the past five years and will open the meet with a regional leading time and the third-fastest time in the country at 3:04.33.
Live results for all of this weekend’s action will be provided by the official athletic website for the University of Arkansas and can be found online at www.flashresults.com. Be sure to log on to www.LSUsports.net for complete results and meet recaps following both days of competition at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships.
LSU’s Qualifiers for the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships
Athlete, Event, Time/Mark
Chris Bless, Hammer, 186-6
Preston Chatham, Javelin, 227-5
Reggie Dardar, 400 meters, 46.85
Mark DeBlanc, Javelin, 212-5
Josh Dominguez, Pole Vault, 16-10 ¾
Ryan Fontenot, 110 hurdles, 13.51w
Rabun Fox, Hammer, 215-11
Reggie Haslom, Triple Jump, 49-7 ¾
Armanti Hayes, 400 meters, 46.10
Jeremy Hicks, Long Jump, 25-8
Trindon Holliday, 100 meters, 10.05
Jamaal James, 800 meters, 1:47.91
Ricky Jean-Francois, Shot Put, 59-1 ¼
Elkana Kosgei, 800 meters, 1:47.05
John Kosgei, 1,500 meters, 3:42.98
Patrick Lee, 400 hurdles, 50.94
Gabriel Mvumvure, 100 meters/200 meters, 10.37/21.23
Chad Radgowski, Javelin, 237-2
Zedric Thomas, Triple Jump, 50-2
Richard Thompson, 100 meters/200 meters, 9.93/20.23
Reuben Twijukye, 800 meters, 1:48.13
Adam Wilcox, Shot Put, 56-0
Hayes, Thompson, Mvumvure, Holliday; 4x100 relay; 38.67
Hayes, E. Kosgei, Twijukye, Dardar; 4x400 relay; 3:04.33
Athlete, Event, Time/Mark
Kelly Baptiste, 100 meters/200 meters, 11.06/22.87
Angel Boyd, 100 hurdles, 13.04w
Juanita Broaddus, 100 meters/200 meters, 11.17/23.18
Monique Cabral, 100 meters/200 meters, 11.54w/23.54
Brittani Carter, High Jump, 5-8 ¾
Kathy Coleman, Long Jump/Triple Jump, 19-10 ¼/41-5 ¼
Kristina Davis, 100 meters, 11.68
Nedra Gross, Triple Jump, 42-2 ¾
Brittany Hall, 800 meters, 2:05.95
Samantha Henry, 100 meters/200 meters, 11.27/22.98
Tenaya Jones, 100 hurdles, 13.58w
Deonna Lawrence, 400 meters, 53.44
Andrea Linton, Triple Jump, 42-4 ¼
Anna Lyons, Javelin, 158-8
Brooklynn Morris, 400 meters, 53.06
Melissa Ogbourne, Triple Jump, 40-11w
Jessica Ohanaja, 100 hurdles, 13.02w
Katelyn Rodrigue, Pole Vault, 13-7 ¼
LaTavia Thomas, 800 meters, 2:03.22
Kayann Thompson, 800 meters, 2:04.82
Kim Williams, Hammer, 194-2
Kenyanna Wilson, 100 meters, 11.42
Nickiesha Wilson, 100 hurdles/400 hurdles, 12.81w/55.83
Morris, Henry, Broaddus, Baptiste; 4x100 relay; 42.59
Morris, Wilson, Broaddus, Lawrence; 4x400 relay; 3:29.28