BATON ROUGE – The LSU Track & Field program will host another world-class field as part of its annual LSU Alumni Gold meet on Saturday afternoon as 15 Olympians, four Olympic medalists, one world-record holder and many of the NCAA’s elite will be in action at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium beginning at 1:30 p.m. CT with the afternoon session.
The afternoon session of this year’s LSU Alumni Gold will begin following a special alumni recognition and opening ceremony at 1 p.m. and run through the men’s 4x400-meter relay at 4:25 p.m.
The morning session of Saturday’s LSU Alumni Gold meet is set to begin at 9 a.m. with the first field events of the day followed by the first “B” section finals on the track at 10:30 a.m.
The LSU Alumni Gold attracts a world-class field year in and year out, and this year’s meet is no exception as many elite college and professional athletes are ready to compete at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium during Saturday’s action. Among those are 15 Olympians representing five nations from around the world, including 14 athletes who most recently competed at the 2012 Olympic Games in London last summer.
No star shines brighter in this year’s field than Olympic gold medalist and world-record holder Aries Merritt as he headlines the final of the men’s 110-meter hurdles. Merritt struck gold for the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games while running 12.92 seconds in the Olympic final before setting the world record at 12.80 in last year’s Diamond League meet in Brussels, Belgium, following the Olympic Games.
Former LSU Tiger national champion Richard Thompson is among three other medalists from the London Olympics in Saturday’s field as he will anchor the Tiger Olympians in the 4x100-meter relay final.
Thompson became the most decorated Olympian in the history of LSU athletics – regardless of sport – when he claimed his third Olympic medal in London while anchoring Trinidad & Tobago to the bronze medal in the 4x100 relay. Thompson also won two silver medals in the 100-meter dash and 4x100-meter relay in his Olympics debut in Beijing, China, in 2008.
Also in the field are former LSU All-American Ade Alleyne-Forte and Texas A&M sophomore Deon Lendore, who led Trinidad & Tobago to a bronze-medal sweep in the relays at the Olympic Games last summer as they ran the third leg and anchor leg, respectively, for their country with national record of 2 minutes, 59.40 seconds in the Olympic final.
Saturday’s action in Baton Rouge even features four other event finalists from the 2012 Olympic Games as USA’s Lolo Jones will run the women’s 100-meter hurdles, France’s Mickael Hanany will compete in the men’s high jump and Canada’s Jared Connaughton and Justyn Warner will run for their country in the men’s 4x100-meter relay.
Three collegians with Olympic experience in London are also set to compete at this year’s LSU Alumni Gold as LSU’s Damar Forbes competes in the long jump, Texas A&M’s Wayne Davis runs the 110-meter hurdles and Houston’s Errol Nolan lines up in both the 200 meters and 400 meters. Forbes and Nolan each represented Jamaican and Davis represented Trinidad & Tobago at the London Olympics.
Other Olympians in Saturday’s field include Jamaica’s Isa Phillips, who won the 2007 NCAA Outdoor title in the 400 hurdles for LSU, as well as USA’s Chelsea Hayes and Canada’s Crystal Emmanuel and Segun Makinde.
“We always have a very high-quality field for this meet each year, but we’re really in for a treat here tomorrow afternoon with the teams and athletes who have made the trip to Baton Rouge this week,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “Those coming to the meet will get to watch Olympians and Olympic medalists competing right alongside some of the best athletes we’ve got in the NCAA ranks this year.
“Hosting the LSU Alumni Gold gives us an opportunity each year to really showcase our team and our program in so many different ways. We look forward to doing that again tomorrow afternoon.”
In addition to such collegians as Forbes, Davis, Lendore and Nolan among the Olympians scheduled to compete, this year’s LSU Alumni Gold meet features an impressive collegiate field that includes four NCAA leaders in the national event rankings and such nationally-ranked programs as Illinois and Texas A&M making the trip to Baton Rouge for the event this weekend.
The Lady Tigers are ranked No. 4 and the Tigers are ranked No. 10 in this week’s national Top 25 power rankings released by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association as they will play host to the No. 1-ranked Aggie men and No. 2-ranked Aggie women and the No. 18-ranked Illini women at the LSU Alumni Gold.
Other teams in the field include Alabama, Harvard, Houston, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana Tech, Minnesota, Northwestern State, South Florida, Southern Mississippi, Texas State and Tulane.
LSU junior Natoya Goule headlines a quartet of NCAA leaders in the field Saturday as she is also the World leader in the women’s 800-meter run in 2013 with a seasonal best and school record of 2:01.18 to her credit on the season. The NCAA Indoor champion will line up in the event for just the second time outdoors this spring after opening at 2:01.18 at UCLA’s Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational two weeks ago.
Texas A&M’s Henry Lelei, the NCAA leader in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase, will also be running the 800 meters, while the Aggies will line up both of their NCAA-leading 4x100-meter relay teams on Saturday.
LSU features four other athletes competing with Top 10 national rankings in 2013, including senior Kimberlyn Duncan with the No. 2-ranked time in the 100 meters at 11.06, freshman Darrell Bush with the No. 7-ranked time in the 400 meters at 46.15, sophomore Tori Bliss with the No. 8-ranked mark in the shot put at 55 feet, 11 inches and junior Nikita Tracey with the No. 9-ranked time in the 400 hurdles at 57.35.
During the running of the men’s and women’s 5,000 meters on Saturday afternoon, 18 athletes and two managers will be recognized as they make their final appearance at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
Among those being recognized in their last home meet include Duncan, Forbes, Laura Aleman, Brianne Bergeron, Joseph Caraway, Laura Carleton, Shanekia Hall, Siedda Herbert, Phillip LeBlanc, Charlene Lipsey, Latoya McDermott, Leigh-Ann Naccari, Daniel Obioha, Rynell Parson, Brittany Porter, Thomas Reinecke, Lacey Sanchez, Caleb Williams and managers Zack Mire and Sarah Waguespack.
After playing host to this year’s LSU Alumni Gold meet on Saturday, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will wrap up the 2013 regular season next weekend with their annual trip to Franklin Field for the 119th running of the Penn Relay Carnival scheduled for April 25-27 at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.