BATON ROUGE – After opening the 2013 outdoor season at the Louisiana Classics in Lafayette last weekend, many of LSU’s All-America hopefuls will make their outdoor debut this weekend as the Tigers and Lady Tigers play host to the LSU Relays on Friday and Saturday at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium in Baton Rouge.
This marks the first of three home events for LSU Track & Field during the 2013 outdoor season as the teams also play host to the Battle on the Bayou on April 13 and the LSU Alumni Gold on April 20.
Fans can enjoy an exciting weekend of world-class competition beginning at 4 p.m. CT on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday following a brief opening ceremony. Saturday’s morning session is also scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. with the field events followed by the first events on the track at 11 a.m.
Saturday’s festivities will even feature a “fun run” on LSU’s campus with such running clubs as Girls on the Run and Claim Your Journey/Run LA prior to the start of the afternoon’s running events.
LSU now turns its attention outdoors following a third-place finish by the Lady Tigers and a 15th-place finish by the Tigers at this year’s NCAA Indoor Championships held March 8-9 in Fayetteville, Ark. The teams will be preparing for the 2013 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships scheduled to run June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore.
The LSU Relays provides the Tigers and Lady Tigers with an opportunity to prepare for similar events they will see at both the Texas Relays and Penn Relays in the coming weeks.
The 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays run next week as LSU makes its annual trip to Austin for the event being held March 27-30 at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas. The Tigers and Lady Tigers wrap up the regular season on April 25-27 with the 119th running of the Penn Relay Carnival at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
“We always view the LSU Relays as the true outdoor opener for both of our teams,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “We saw a number of athletes open up with some strong performances last Saturday during the Louisiana Classics, but we expect that everyone will compete in one way or another this weekend, whether that’s in their individual events or as a part of our relay teams.
“Hosting the LSU Relays is a great way for us to begin the outdoor season each season. It really helps prepare our athletes for what they will see later in the season at such meets at the Texas Relays and Penn Relays.”
Despite kicking off their outdoor season last weekend, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will feature their top 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relay teams as part of the LSU Relays on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers are the defending NCAA Champions in the men’s 4x100 relay after winning their eighth national title in the event last year as the team of Barrett Nugent, Aaron Ernest, Keyth Talley and Shermund Allsop ran the seventh-fastest time in collegiate history at 38.38 seconds for the victory at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.
Ernest and Allsop return for their sophomore and junior seasons, respectively, to lead the relay into the 2013 season as they will be joined in the relay pool by senior long jump All-American Damar Forbes, sophomore hurdler Joshua Thompson and freshman Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake.
The Lady Tigers also return a powerful sprint relay team as senior Kimberlyn Duncan anchored the NCAA’s premier foursome to a seasonal-best time of 42.99 during the 2012 season.
Joining Duncan are two returning All-Americans in juniors Takeia Pinckney and Jasmin Stowers, as well as junior Toshika Sylvester and freshman Aliyah Davis as part of the sprint relay pool for the Lady Tigers.
Both the Tigers and Lady Tigers also feature All-American 4x400 relay teams as each earned a fifth-place finish in the relay final at the NCAA Indoor Championships two weeks ago. LSU’s relay teams at the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 9 featured senior Caleb Williams, sophomore Quincy Downing and freshmen Darrell Bush and Cyril Grayson for the Tigers and senior Siedda Herbert, juniors Natoya Goule and Nikita Tracey and sophomore Montenae Roye-Speight for the Lady Tigers.
In addition to running the 4x100 and 4x400 relays this weekend, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will also line up in such relays as the 4x200 and sprint medley relays as they prepare for the Texas Relays next weekend.
The LSU Relays also serves as the outdoor opener each season for those Tigers and Lady Tigers earning the right to compete at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Among LSU’s NCAA Indoor qualifiers scheduled to open up in their individual events at the LSU Relays on Friday and Saturday include Forbes and Pinckney in the 100 meters, Goule and Roye-Speight in the 400 meters, Stowers in the 100-meter hurdles, Thompson in the 110-meter hurdles and Tracey in the 400-meter hurdles. Other NCAA qualifiers slated to compete this weekend are senior Charlene Lipsey in the 1,500 meters and juniors Keri Emanuel in the long jump, Lynnika Pitts in the high jump and Denise Hinton in the hammer throw.
One LSU Tiger enters the weekend as the early-season NCAA leader in the discus throw following his opener at the Louisiana Classics a week ago as sophomore Rodney Brown smashed his lifetime personal best with a career-best throw of 197 feet, 1 inch to take home the event title from his appearance in Lafayette last Saturday.
Brown, who broke his previous PR of 190-8 set last season, owns the NCAA’s No. 1 ranking in the men’s discus by nearly three feet over the mark of 194-5 by No. 2-ranked Andrew Evans of Kentucky.
Other LSU standouts set to open their outdoor season at the LSU Relays include the Tigers’ quartet of senior Joseph Caraway, juniors Jaora Johnson and Thomas Reinecke and sophomore Andreas Duplantis in the pole vault, as well as junior Karen Henning in the hammer throw and sophomore Jeremy Tuttle in the discus, hammer and javelin throws.