BATON ROUGE – The LSU Track & Field teams will wrap up the 2013 regular season this weekend with their annual trip to historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia as they compete in the 119th running of the Penn Relay Carnival that begins for the Tigers and Lady Tigers on Thursday afternoon at the University of Pennsylvania.
While the Tigers and Lady Tigers will compete for the first time on Thursday, the 119th Penn Relays will come to a dramatic conclusion as it does each year with the “USA vs. The World” events on Saturday afternoon.
NBC will televise Saturday’s “USA vs. The World” events at the Penn Relays live from 12-2 p.m. CT as it will be the first stop of the 2013 USA Track & Field Championship Series. NBC Universal will also air live coverage of the meet from 2-4 p.m. CT following the “USA vs. The World” competition for four hours of live television coverage of Saturday’s action at Franklin Field.
The 119th Penn Relays will come to an end Saturday with the running of the Championship of America 4x400-meter relays as the Lady Tigers will run at 4:50 p.m. followed by the Tigers at 5 p.m.
This weekend marks the last time the Tigers and Lady Tigers will have the chance to compete before they kick off the championship season at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championship at the Audrey J. Walton Track Stadium at the University of Missouri in Columbia from May 9-12.
Fans can receive live updates of the Tigers and Lady Tigers competing at the Penn Relays this weekend by liking LSU Track & Field on Facebook and following @LSUTrackField on Twitter.
“The Penn Relays is truly one of the unique events in our sport. We look forward to going back to Franklin Field each season to compete in what will be our final meet before the start of the championship season,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “The history there is something you can’t help but appreciate. We hope to be a part of that history each time we’re there.
“But we need to treat this event like we would any other championship meet. This weekend means we get one final opportunity to compete before we get ready for the SEC Championships. We expect great weather this weekend, which I’m sure means there will be record crowds again and a championship type of atmosphere.”
Teams competing at the Penn Relays each season line up with the goal of taking home one of the carnival’s signature Championship of America wagon wheels awarded to each university relay winner.
LSU is among the most successful programs all-time at the Penn Relays as the Tigers and Lady Tigers are winners of 66 Championship of America relay titles and 63 individual event titles in the meet’s storied history.
LSU is looking to continue an impressive streak as either the men’s or women’s team has won at least one Championship of America relay title in 22-straight seasons dating back to the 1991 season. The Tigers are set to defend their crown in the men’s 4x400-meter relay, while the Lady Tigers are the defending champions in both the 4x200-meter relay and shuttle hurdle relay.
Despite winning Championship of America titles a year ago, the Lady Tigers will not defend their Penn Relays titles in either the 4x200 relay or shuttle hurdle relay this weekend.
The Lady Tigers are sure to add to their trophy haul as the most successful program in meet history with a total of 44 Championship of America relay wins all-time at the Penn Relays. They will compete in their first relay final of this year’s meet with the distance medley relay Thursday night as they own the NCAA’s No. 1-ranked time this season at 11 minutes, 23.55 seconds in their win at the Texas Relays on March 29.
LSU’s women actually took home three relay victories at the 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays last month as they added wins in the 4x800-meter relay and sprint medley relay for three wins on the weekend. They rank No. 2 nationally in the sprint medley relay with a time of 3:43.98 and No. 5 in the 4x800 relay with a time of 8:41.25.
In addition, the Lady Tigers also rank No. 5 nationally in the 4x100 relay with a seasonal best of 43.70 and No. 6 nationally in the 4x400 relay with a seasonal best of 3:32.04 in the NCAA rankings for the 2013 season.
The Tigers are ranked as high as No. 4 nationally in the 4x100 relay with a top time of 39.24 and No. 6 nationally in the 4x400 relay with a best time of 3:05.27 during the outdoor campaign.
Lady Tiger junior Jasmin Stowers made history at the 118th running of the Penn Relay Carnival a year ago when she became the first Lady Tiger in meet history to win two Penn Relays titles in the 100-meter hurdles with a winning run of 13.05 seconds in the final. She also took the hurdles title in her Penn Relays debut with the Lady Tigers as a freshman in 2011 when she ran 13.16 for her first victory at Franklin Field.
LSU’s athletes have certainly earned their share of recognition with their performance at the Penn Relays over the year as nine athletes have taken home a coveted Athlete of the Meet honor with their performance.
In fact, LSU has seen an athlete earn Athlete of the Meet honors in three of the last five seasons as former Lady Tiger national champion LaTavia Thomas was named the Women’s College Outstanding Relay Runner for her efforts in 2008, former Tiger Jeremy Hicks and former Lady Tiger Rachel Laurent swept College Individual Athlete of the Meet honors in 2009 and former LSU national champion Walter Henning won a College Men’s Individual Athlete of the Meet award during his senior season in 2011.
Texas is the only other program in meet history to sweep College Men’s and Women’s Individual Athlete of the Meet honors when it accomplished the rare feat at the Penn Relays during the 1998 season.
Three other Lady Tigers have been selected the Women’s College Outstanding Relay Runner, including a selection for Cheryl Taplin in 1994, D’Andre Hill in 1996 and Muna Lee in 2003. LSU also featured a pair of winners in 2006 as Kelly Willie was named the Men’s College Outstanding Relay Runner and Kelly Baptiste was selected the Women’s College Individual Athlete of the Meet.