BATON ROUGE - Members of the LSU Track & Field teams are ready to return to the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark., this weekend as they kick off the championship season at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships beginning Friday at the University of Arkansas.
The SEC Indoor Championships return to Fayetteville for the third time in four seasons as the Tigers and Lady Tigers make their third appearance this season at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
LSU has prepared for the championship season with appearances in two other meets hosted by the University of Arkansas at the Razorback Invitational on Jan. 25-26 and the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 8-9. The Razorbacks will also play host to the 2013 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships on March 8-9 to wrap up the indoor season.
This year's championship kicks off Friday afternoon with the men's heptathlon at 1 p.m. CT and the women's pentathlon at 1:30 p.m. Saturday's action continues at 10 a.m. with the field events followed by the first prelims on the track at 2:30 p.m. Sunday's finale at the SEC Indoor Championships is set to start at 10 a.m. in the field and 12:30 p.m. on the track.
The SEC Indoor team champions will be crowned following the running of the 4x400-meter relays on Sunday afternoon in a special awards ceremony scheduled for 4:55 p.m.
Fans have the opportunity to see the Tigers and Lady Tigers in action as the meet is slated for a tape-delay broadcast by ESPNU on the evening of Wednesday, March 13, from 8:30-10 p.m. CT.
In addition, ESPN3.com will provide a live stream of this year's SEC Indoor Championships on Saturday from 2:25-7:15 p.m. CT and Sunday from 12:30-5 p.m. CT. The University of Arkansas will stream such portions of the meet not appearing on ESPN3.com on its official athletics website at www.ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Fans can also receive live updates of the Tigers and Lady Tigers competing this weekend as part of their social media network by liking LSU Track & Field on Facebook and also by following @LSUTrackField on Twitter. Fans are invited to join the Twitter conversation at the SEC Indoor Championships by tweeting the official hashtag of the meet using #SECTF.
The Lady Tigers, who have captured a league-leading 12 SEC Indoor team titles during their storied history, are looking to claim their second championship in three seasons after taking home their last SEC Indoor crown with a 135-118 victory over homestanding Arkansas at the Randal Tyson Track Center in 2011. The Florida Gators follow with the second-most team titles at the SEC Indoor Championships as they have won the meet seven times since the first women's championship in 1984.
The Lady Tigers will look to dethrone the reigning SEC Indoor champions from Florida as they finished runner-up to the Gators by a 132-109 margin at Kentucky's Nutter Field House.
LSU enters the championship season as the consensus No. 1-ranked team nationally with the top spot in both the Track & Field News Women's Dual Meet Top 20 and U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Top 25 power ranking released earlier this week.
The No. 1-ranked Lady Tigers will compete as part of a field that features a national-leading five Top 10 teams in the latest USTFCCCA Top 25 women's power ranking. Battling the Lady Tigers for a title this weekend are No. 3-ranked Arkansas, No. 6-ranked Florida, No. 7-ranked Georgia and No. 9-ranked Texas A&M. South Carolina is also ranked No. 14 nationally entering the meet.
The Tigers will compete this weekend with a No. 16 national ranking in the USTFCCCA Top 25 men's power ranking. The SEC boasts the top three teams in this week's men's ranking as the Tigers face such nationally-ranked teams as No. 1-ranked Arkansas, No. 2-ranked Florida, No. 3-ranked Texas A&M and No. 19-ranked Ole Miss.
The Tigers took home a fourth-place finish at the SEC Indoor Championships after scoring 68.5 points in three days of action a year ago.
Arkansas will look to defend their SEC Indoor team title on the men's side on their home track after piling up 151 points at the Nutter Field House in Lexington last season. Florida followed in second place with 137 points, while Georgia took third place with 85.5 points and Auburn finished in fifth place with 56 points to round out the top five of the men's team standings.
Three Lady Tigers return to the SEC Indoor Championships this weekend looking to defend their event titles won in Kentucky a year ago.
Senior Kimberlyn Duncan and junior Jasmin Stowers have an opportunity to make history as only the second athletes in their respective events to capture three-straight SEC Indoor titles in event history. Duncan is the two-time defending SEC Indoor champion in the 200-meter dash as she looks to join Lady Tiger great Muna Lee (2001-03) as the only three-time SEC Indoor champion. Stowers has captured back-to-back SEC Indoor titles in the 60-meter hurdles as she looks to join former Lady Tiger star Lolo Jones (2002-04) as a three-time champion in the event.
Duncan actually enters the weekend as the SEC's No. 1-ranked performer in two events with indoors personal bests of 7.16 in the 60 meters and 22.72 in the 200 meters this season.
Also looking to defend her SEC Indoor crown is senior Charlene Lipsey as she owns the second-fastest 800-meter time in the SEC and NCAA rankings this season with an indoor personal best of 2 minutes, 3.76 seconds. She is sure to battle junior teammate Natoya Goule for the 800-meter title as Goule is the SEC and NCAA leader with a best of 2:03.49 this season.
Also owning the SEC's No. 1 ranking in her event as she prepares for the weekend is junior Denise Hinton, who is coming off a school-record-setting performance at the LSU Twilight last Friday where she threw an SEC-leading 70 feet, 9 ¼ inches in the 20-pound weight throw. Hinton ranks No. 4 in the NCAA rankings with her performance.
In addition, the Tigers and Lady Tigers are each the reigning SEC Indoor champion in the 4x400-meter relay following their relay sweep during the 2012 season.
The Tigers feature a pair of title contenders of their own as they will be led this weekend by senior Damar Forbes in the long jump and sophomore Aaron Ernest in the 60 meters and 200 meters. Forbes is the No. 3-ranked performer in the SEC and NCAA rankings with a season's best jump of 26-0 ¾. Ernest also ranks No. 3 nationally and No. 2 in the league with an indoor best of 20.79 in the 200 meters.
After competing at the SEC Indoor Championships this weekend, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will have one final opportunity to improve their standing to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships as they play host to the LSU NCAA Indoor Qualifier on March 1 at the Carl Maddox Field House in Baton Rouge.