Track & Field Teams Set for SEC Outdoors
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Following Wednesday's training day at Weems Baskin Track, the LSU Track & Field teams are ready to open their championship season this weekend as they join their Southeastern Conference rivals at the 2017 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships beginning Thursday at the University of South Carolina.
The three-day SEC Championship kicks off on Thursday with the men's decathlon at 9:15 a.m. CT followed by the start of the women's heptathlon at 9:30 a.m. The opening day of the competition also features the start of the first field-event finals of the meet with the men's hammer throw at Noon followed by the first preliminary races on the track at 5 p.m.
The multi-events resume Friday at 10 a.m. with the decathlon and 10:30 a.m. with the heptathlon, followed by the day's first field events at 1:30 p.m. and the opening events on the track at 5:30 p.m.
This year's SEC Outdoor Championship will conclude with a furious afternoon of competition at Weems Baskin Track on Saturday as events get underway at 10 a.m. in the field and 2:15 p.m. on the track. It runs through the 4x400-meter relays at 5:50 p.m. with this year's SEC men's and women's team champions being crowned in a special award's ceremony immediately following.
Live streaming video of the SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships is available online at ESPN3.com and through the SEC Network+ on the WatchESPN app on Friday from 5:25-9:15 p.m. CT and Saturday from 2:10-6 p.m. as fans can watch their Tigers and Lady Tigers in action this weekend. ESPN2 will also air a two-hour tape-delay highlight show of the championship on Wednesday, May 17, from 7-9 p.m.
The University of South Carolina in conjunction with Prime Time Timing will provide live results for the SEC Outdoor Championships as events are available at http://pttiming.com. Fans can also receive live updates and behind-the-scenes coverage of the Tigers and Lady Tigers while liking LSU Track & Field on Facebook at http://facebook.com/lsutrackfield and by following @LSUTrackField on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lsutrackfield and Instagram at http://instagram.com/lsutrackfield.
SEC in the National Rankings
The LSU Track & Field teams continue to be ranked among the nation's elite with the release of the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national power rankings on Monday afternoon.
The Lady Tigers are the No. 4-ranked women's team nationwide as they trail only No. 1 Texas A&M, No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Southern California in the latest USTFCCCA Top 25 power rankings. In fact, the SEC features a total of seven top-10 and 11 top-25 teams nationally as No. 5 Arkansas, No. 6 Kentucky, No. 7 Georgia, No. 8 Florida, No. 10 Alabama, No. 13 Auburn, No. 16 Ole Miss, No. 22 Tennessee and No. 25 South Carolina will be featured at the SEC Championships over the next three days.
The Tigers are the nation's No. 6-ranked men's team again this week as they are among six top-10 and 12 top-25 programs entering the weekend. Headlining the men's field in Columbia will be No. 1 Texas A&M, No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Georgia, No. 5 Alabama, No. 9 Arkansas, No. 12 Ole Miss, No. 18 Auburn, No. 19 South Carolina, No. 21 Kentucky, No. 22 Mississippi State and No. 23 Tennessee.
Last Year at the SEC Championships
LSU's men earned their second-straight fourth-place team finish at the SEC Outdoor Championship a year ago as they scored 86 points in three days of competition at Alabama's Sam Bailey Track. The LSU women had a fifth-place team finish a year ago with 75 points scored during the championship after placing fourth in the event the year before.
Arkansas swept SEC Outdoor titles last spring as the Razorback men scored 121 points to outlast Texas A&M (101) while the Razorback women totaled 126.5 points to also beat Texas A&M (82) for the title.
Mitchell-Blake Defends SEC Treble
Sam Bailey Track was the site of one of the all-time great performances by an LSU athlete in the history of the SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships when Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake captured three event titles with his performance en route to winning the SEC Commissioners Trophy as the top point scorer in the meet. Mitchell-Blake swept spring titles in the 100 meters (10.16) and 200 meters (19.95) after anchoring LSU to victory in the 4x100-meter relay with a meet-record time of 38.33 seconds.
Mitchell-Blake, who was the first Tiger to win three events at the SEC Outdoor Championships since three-time Olympic medalist Richard Thompson in 2008, looks to defend his league treble as one of the SEC's leading performers again this spring. He ranks No. 2 in the 200 meters (20.15) and No. 6 in the 100 meters (10.16), while the Tigers own the NCAA's fastest time this season at 38.57 in the sprint relay.
The Tigers are also the defending SEC Champions in the 4x400-meter relay as seniors Michael Cherry and LaMar Bruton return from the team that won with another meet-record time of 3 minutes, 0.48 seconds.
The Lady Tigers are the defending champions in the women's 4x100-meter relay as their team of junior Mikiah Brisco, sophomore Kortnei Johnson, senior Jada Martin and junior Aleia Hobbs enters the meet at the top of the SEC and NCAA rankings with a collegiate-record-tying 42.12 run at the SEC Relays two weeks ago. LSU won the women's relay a year ago with a time of 42.77.
LSU arrives in South Carolina with a host of SEC-title contenders and All-SEC hopefuls on both the men's and women's sides with five SEC event leaders and 11 athletes and relay teams ranking among the current Top 3 in their respective events heading into the weekend.
Hobbs will line up at Weems Baskin Track as the NCAA leader in the women's 100-meter dash this outdoor season following her efforts at the SEC Relays two weeks ago. That's where she ran the second-fastest time in collegiate history with a wind-legal personal best of 10.85 (+2.0) to eclipse Oregon's Deajah Stevens (11.00) for the NCAA lead in the event. Hobbs's 10.85 is the fastest time ever run at low altitude in NCAA history as only the recognized collegiate record of 10.78 by LSU's own Dawn Sowell at the 1989 NCAA Championships at BYU separates Hobbs from the top of the NCAA's all-time rankings.
Senior Rebekah Wales, the 2015 SEC Champion in the women's javelin, leads the SEC and NCAA in the event this spring with a best of 188 feet, 0 inches, while junior Kymber Payne owns the SEC's fastest time this year in the 400-meter hurdles with a best of 56.12 in 2017. Payne's personal best also ranks No. 4 nationally entering the championship season.
Arriving in Columbia with the SEC's No. 2 ranking in their events this season are Brisco with a time of 12.85 in the 100-meter hurdles, Cherry with a time of 44.77 in the 400-meter dash, freshman Ruby Stauber with a run of 2:03.77 in the 800 meters and the Tigers' 4x400-meter relay team with a time of 3:02.80.
In addition, senior Travia Jones is sure to contend for All-SEC honors in the women's 400-meter dash for the first time in her career as she ranks third with a personal-best time of 52.25 in the event this season.
After competing at the SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships this weekend, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will travel to Lexington, Kentucky, to compete at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds running May 25-27 at UK's Outdoor Track & Field Complex at the University of Kentucky. The semifinal and final rounds of the 2017 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships will be held June 7-10 at Oregon's Hayward Field.