BATON ROUGE – With LSU’s campus closed this week for Spring Break, the Tigers and Lady Tigers have made the trip out West to Los Angeles, Calif., as they prepare to compete at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational being held Saturday afternoon at UCLA’s Drake Stadium in a scored tri-meet that also features TCU.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers will battle the Bruins and Horned Frogs in a competition that is set to begin at 11 a.m. CT in the field events and 2:30 p.m. with the first track events of the afternoon.
The men’s and women’s team champions will be crowned after the running of the 4x400-meter relays at 6 p.m. A full meet recap and final results will be available at www.LSUsports.net following the event.
UCLA will provide live results for the meet using Flash West, which can be found online at www.flashwest.com. Fans can also receive live updates for the Tigers and Lady Tigers competing during the meet by liking LSU Track & Field on Facebook and following @LSUTrackField on Twitter while joining the team’s growing social media network.
This marks the second year in a row in which LSU Track & Field has taken a trip out West during Spring Break week after competing against Arkansas and Arizona State at the Arizona State Tri-Meet in Tempe a year ago.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers return to the state of California for the first time in six seasons after wrapping up the 2007 season in Sacramento at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. They also return to Los Angeles for the first time in 12 seasons when they made an appearance at the USC Invitational held across town at Loker Stadium at the University of Southern California.
This year’s Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational will be scored as a double dual meet as LSU’s performances will be scored against both UCLA and TCU using a 5-3-1 format in individual events and 5-0 format in relays. UCLA will also battle TCU in a third dual meet competition on Saturday afternoon.
“We’re really pleased with the progression both of our teams have made through three weeks of the outdoor season. We look for that to continue at UCLA this weekend,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “We are looking forward to a great scored competition tomorrow afternoon. These types of meets always seem to be just a little more competitive when a championship is on the line.”
Saturday’s action will feature a number of LSU’s All-America and national championship hopefuls running their first races in the 200 meters, 400 meters and 800 meters of the 2013 outdoor season.
That includes a pair of NCAA Indoor champions as senior Kimberlyn Duncan will line up in the 200-meter dash and junior Natoya Goule will step onto the track for the 800-meter run for the first time outdoors in 2013.
Duncan made history in her last 200-meter race as she became the first sprinter in collegiate history – male or female – to claim three-straight NCAA Indoor titles in the event with her victory at the 2013 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships held at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark. She will now open the defense of the NCAA Outdoor crown she has won each of the last two seasons as she looks to earn her third-straight title outdoors and cap her career as arguably the most dominant 200-meter sprinter in collegiate history.
Duncan is the reigning SEC Women’s Runner of the Week following her performance at the 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays where she sprinted to an NCAA-leading wind-aided time of 11.06 seconds in her first race in the 100-meter dash of the outdoor season. She has now won three SEC Women’s Runner of the Week honors in 2013 and 10 awards during her career.
Goule also won an NCAA Indoor title in her last appearance in her specialty as she won the 800-meter crown while setting LSU’s indoor school record of 2 minutes, 2.00 seconds at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
The Lady Tigers feature the nation’s top tandem of 800-meter runners this season as senior Charlene Lipsey is set to make her outdoor debut in the event alongside Goule with national championship aspirations of her own during the outdoor season. While following Goule in third place in the final at the NCAA Indoor meet, Lipsey is the reigning NCAA Outdoor silver medalist in the 800 meters from a year ago.
Sophomore Aaron Ernest will highlight the action for the Tigers in making his outdoor debut in the 200-meter dash just one week after running his first 100-meter races of the season at the Texas Relays.
Ernest earned his first career indoor All-America honor in the 200 meters earlier this season with a sixth-place finish in the men’s final at the NCAA Indoor Championships, while also matching his lifetime PR with his run of 20.53 in winning the SEC Indoor title earlier this season. He nearly matched his personal best in his first 100-meter final of the season with a time of 10.18 for second place at the Texas Relays last Saturday.
Ernest claimed All-America honors in both sprints as a freshman with fifth place in the 200 meters and eighth place in the 100 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships last year.
Another Tiger who put his name in the national championship discussion with his performance at the Texas Relays is fellow sophomore Rodney Brown, who nearly set an LSU school record in the men’s discus final.
Brown is off to a fast start outdoors in 2013 as he has already raised his personal best by nearly 16 feet in the discus throw while unleashing a career-best mark of 206 feet, 3 inches on his fifth attempt in the final at the Texas Relays to claim a runner-up finish to the NCAA-leading mark of 216-7 by UCLA’s Julian Wruck. They look to square off once again on Saturday in what is sure to be a preview of the NCAA final later this year.
Brown is now less than three feet from eclipsing John Nichols’ 24-year-old school record of 209-1 set in winning the NCAA discus title during the 1989 season.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers will also look to improve in the relay events on Saturday afternoon after each set seasonal bests in the 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter relay at the Texas Relays last weekend. The Tigers rank No. 4 nationally in both relays with top times of 39.56 in the 4x100 relay and 3:05.27 in the 4x400 relay, while the Lady Tigers rank No. 4 in the 4x100 relay at 43.70 and No. 6 in the 4x400 relay at 3:32.04.
After competing at UCLA’s Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational on Saturday, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will return home to play host to the Battle on the Bayou on April 13 and the LSU Alumni Gold meet on April 20 at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium in Baton Rouge. They will then wrap up the regular season with an annual trip to Philadelphia for the 119th running of the Penn Relay Carnival being held April 25-27 at Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania.