BATON ROUGE – The LSU Track & Field teams have hit the homestretch of the 2014 indoor season with the championship season set to get underway this weekend as they make their return to College Station, Texas, for this year’s SEC Indoor Track & Field Championships scheduled to begin Thursday afternoon at Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.
This marks the first time that Texas A&M will play host to the SEC Indoor Championships at the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium since joining the conference during the 2013 season.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers have prepared for the championship season with appearances in two other meets hosted by the Aggies this season at the Texas A&M Triangular on Jan. 25 and Aggie Invitational on Feb. 8.
This year’s championship kicks off Thursday afternoon with the men’s heptathlon at 1 p.m. CT and the women’s pentathlon at 1:30 p.m. The action continues on Friday and Saturday at 1 p.m. with both the field events and the first events on the track. The 2013 SEC Indoor team champions will be crowned in an awards ceremony following Saturday’s events at approximately 5:20 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 Monday, March 10, from 6:30-8 p.m. CT.
In addition, ESPN3.com will provide live streaming video of this year’s SEC Indoor Championships on Friday from 1:55-6:35 p.m. CT and Saturday from 12:50-5:30 p.m. Texas A&M will stream video for the portions of the meet not shown on ESPN3.com through its website at http://www.aggieathletics.com/, which will also be shared in the Geaux Zone at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Fans can also receive live updates of the Tigers and Lady Tigers competing this weekend by liking LSU Track & Field on Facebook and following @LSUTrackField on Twitter while using the conversation hashtag #SECTF.
After securing their league-leading 12th SEC Indoor team championship in 2011, the Lady Tigers have finished runner-up in the women’s team standings in back-to-back seasons in 2012 and 2013 while scoring 109 points and 109.5 points, respectively, with their performance. The Florida Gators follow with the second-most women’s team championship as they have won the meet seven times since its inception in 1984.
The Tigers have won four SEC Indoor team championships of their own with their last victory coming during the 1990 season. They scored 44 points in three days of competition while taking home a fifth-place finish last season, which follows back-to-back third-place team finishes in 2010 and 2011 and a fourth-place finish in 2012.
The Arkansas Razorbacks are the defending team champions on both sides after their men scored 152.5 points and their women scored 114.5 points at their own Randal Tyson Track Center in 2013.
LSU’s teams are among 15 SEC teams ranked in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Top 25 power ranking as the Lady Tigers are No. 14 and the Tigers are No. 16 in this week’s ranking.
The men’s team race will feature the top three teams in the country as the Tigers are joined by No. 1 Arkansas, No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 12 Alabama, No. 20 Ole Miss and No. 24 Georgia. The women’s team race boasts five Top 10 teams as the Lady Tigers are joined by 2 Florida, No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 4 Arkansas, No. 6 Kentucky, No. 7 Georgia, No. 23 Mississippi State and No. 25 Missouri.
Three LSU athletes return to the SEC Indoor Championships looking to defend their event titles won in Arkansas a year ago after the Tigers and Lady Tigers combined to win a league-leading seven events in 2013.
Senior Jasmin Stowers has the opportunity to make history as the first athlete in SEC history – male or female – to win four-straight SEC Indoor championships in either the 55-meter hurdles or 60-meter hurdles as one of the elite sprint hurdlers in the meet’s history. She is unbeaten in her three previous appearances at the SEC Indoor Championships winning the women’s 60-meter hurdles in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Senior Denise Hinton made history during her junior season a year ago when she became the first Lady Tiger in history to be crowned the SEC Champion in the weight throw indoors or hammer throw outdoors with an impressive victory in the women’s weight throw. Junior Aaron Ernest was also crowned an SEC Champion for the first time in his collegiate career by winning the men’s 200-meter dash.
Those who won SEC Indoor titles as seniors last season and will not return to defend their titles include Kimberlyn Duncan (60 meters, 200 meters), Charlene Lipsey (800 meters) and Laura Carleton (5,000 meters).
After competing at the SEC Indoor Championships this weekend, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will wrap up the 2014 indoor season in two weeks as they return to Albuquerque, N.M., for the NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships that is scheduled to run March 14-15 at the Albuquerque Convention Center. They’ve already enjoyed a successful trip to Albuquerque this season when the Lady Tigers won the women’s team title and the Tigers finished runner-up in the men’s trace at the New Mexico Team Invitational held on Feb. 1.
Unlike past seasons, the NCAA will not sanction “last chance” meets to qualify for the NCAA Championships after this weekend as Sunday is the last day for athletes across the country to achieve a qualifying mark to go to the national meet. Qualifiers will be announced on Tuesday, March 4, as the top 16 in each individual event and top 12 in each relay event that declare will compete at the national meet.