Track & Field Hosts Purple Tiger to Open Season

LSU head coach Dennis Shaver (second from right)
LSU head coach Dennis Shaver (second from right)
Bryan Wayne (@LSUsports) (@LSUsports)
LSU Sports Interactive

NOTE: A revised schedule of events as well as descending order lists are now available for the Purple Tiger Invitational Track & Field meet and the LSU High School Indoor Qualifier scheduled for this Friday and Saturday at the Carl Maddox Fieldhouse. Use the links above to view the schedule and descending order list, or visit LSU Track & Field's Home Meet Information page for complete meet info, live results and more.

BATON ROUGE -- With the success of the 2008 season still fresh in their mind, the LSU track and field teams are set to open the 2009 indoor season Friday as they host the Purple Tiger Indoor Track and Field Classic at the Carl Maddox Fieldhouse.

The Lady Tigers enter the season as the reigning NCAA Outdoor champions after earning runner-up honors at the NCAA Indoor meet a year ago, while the Tigers followed their fourth-place finish indoors with a runner-up finish of their own at the NCAA Outdoor meet in June.

The action at the Purple Tiger Classic is set to kick off with the field events at 3 p.m. followed by the first events on the track at 5 p.m.

“We’ve been looking forward to this weekend for a long time now and our kids are anxious to get started after so many months of training,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “We just want to have a nice easy meet to start and get everybody on the track doing something. It’s not a situation where we want our kids to do too much because we have some big meets these next few weeks.”

The Tigers are poised to compete for their first indoor national championship since 2004, and two NCAA title contenders will be on display when they open up on Friday.

Junior All-American Trindon Holliday is set to line up in the 60-meter dash for the first time after rejoining the squad earlier this month following his stint with the LSU football team. Holliday is the nation’s top returning performer at 60 meters after setting a personal best of 6.54 seconds in a runner-up finish to teammate Richard Thompson (6.51) at the NCAA Championships last season.

While Holliday will set the pace on the track, sophomore transfer Walter Henning will make his LSU debut in the field on Friday as he is slated to compete in the weight throw. A native of Kings Park, N.Y., Henning earned All-America honors with a third-place finish at the NCAA meet as a freshman at North Carolina in 2008. He boasts a personal best of 72 feet, 3 inches.

Gabriel Mvumvure (60 meters), Will Coppage (long jump), Jeremy Hicks (long jump), Zedric Thomas (long jump) and Rabun Fox (weight throw) are among the other Tigers ready to compete.

“While we’re not really asking our athletes to do too much in this first meet, those that are going to compete have a great opportunity to get something done early,” Shaver said. “That’s especially true in the field events. While we struggle to qualify well on the track at the Maddox Fieldhouse, it does provide a good competition venue for our jumpers and throwers to get NCAA marks.”

Despite losing the core of their national championship team from a year ago, the Lady Tigers will feature a mixture of youth and experience that is sure to compete at the NCAA level once again in 2009. The squad earned a No. 2 preseason ranking in the first poll released by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.

Senior Andrea Linton and junior Samantha Henry will open up on Friday after earning individual indoor All-America honors a year ago.

Linton returns for her final season of indoor eligibility and is set to compete in the long jump this weekend after placing seventh in the event at the NCAA Indoor meet last season. Henry will headline the field in the women’s 60-meter dash, an event in which she finished fifth nationally in 2008 before also earning outdoor All-America honors in both the 100 meters and 200 meters.

Friday will also see the much anticipated debut of freshman Rachel Laurent in an LSU uniform as the Houma native joins fellow Lady Tiger and NCAA Championships participant Katelyn Rodrigue in the pole vault. Laurent, who was the fourth-place finisher at the IAAF World Junior Championships last summer, boasts an overall personal best 14-0 in the event.

Laurent is one of the most prolific pole vaulters in the history of high school track and field in the United States as her top mark ranks No. 2 all-time outdoors by a high school girl nationwide. It is also a mark that would have finished third at the NCAA Indoor Championships a year ago.

The meet will also feature an exciting competition in the women’s 60-meter hurdles led by World Indoor champion and Olympian Lolo Jones. She will line up alongside former Lady Tiger greats Jessica Ohanaja and Nickiesha Wilson in the first event on the track at 5 p.m.

“I’m sure it’s going to be another exciting season for us, and this is just the first of many steps for our team,” Shaver said. “We’ve had a great offseason of training and are ready to get going.”

After playing host to the Purple Tiger Classic on Friday, LSU will make the trip to College Station, Texas, to compete in the SEC-Big12 Challenge on Jan. 31 on the campus of Texas A&M. The meet will be held at the newly completed Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium, which will also play host to the 2009 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 13-14.




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