DES MOINES, Iowa -- After wrapping up a pair of training sessions at Drake Stadium on Monday and Tuesday, the LSU track and field teams are ready to join the national championship chase once again this weekend in the 2011 season finale the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Drake Stadium will play host to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2008 as LSU returns to the site of its last national championship when the Lady Tigers took home the outdoor crown just three years ago by scoring a total of 67 points in four days of competition at Drake's Jim Duncan Track.
The Tigers nearly took home a national title of their own for the 2008 season finale at the NCAA Outdoor Championships after tying for second place in the final team standings with 44 points during the meet.
The semifinal rounds of this year's NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships are set for a 3 p.m. CDT start on Wednesday afternoon. The national champions of the 2011 season and top four teams on both sides will be recognized in an award's ceremony following Saturday's action.
LSU fans nationwide will have the opportunity to watch the Tigers and Lady Tigers in action this week as the CBS Sports Network will air live coverage at the meet on Friday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. CT. CBS is also scheduled to broadcast live coverage of Saturday's championship finale from 12-2 p.m.
Live results from the semifinal and final rounds of the 2011 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships will be provided by Flash Results and can be found online at www.flashresults.com. Fans can also receive behind-the-scenes coverage of the Tigers and Lady Tigers competing this weekend while becoming a fan of LSU Track & Field on Facebook and following @LSUTrackField on Twitter.
LSU is in a familiar position as a year ago as the Lady Tigers are ranked No. 3 and the Tigers are ranked No. 4 nationally in the season's final power ranking released May 31 by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. The teams enter the meet with the same rankings as they did a season ago.
The Tigers and Lady Tigers are certainly poised to improve upon a pair of sixth-place finishes at the 2010 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships held in Eugene, Ore., last summer.
"What we've stressed to our athletes all along this season is that this will not be the first day of the NCAA Championships," said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. "We're now into the semifinal round in each event and they're going to have to give it their very best effort starting Wednesday to make a final and score for the team. They have to approach it just like a final. That's the kind of effort it's going to take.
"We've got a great group of athletes with us this week. This is what they have worked all year to achieve. They understand that these are the moments they'll remember for the rest of their lives."
LSU has established itself as the most dominant combined track and field program in the country winning 18 NCAA Outdoor Championships all-time between the men's and women's teams. The Tigers and Lady Tigers own a total of 31 NCAA team titles all-time between the indoor and outdoor seasons.
The Lady Tigers are competing for their first NCAA Outdoor crown since 2008 when they took home the gold from Drake Stadium in Des Moines. The Tigers are in search of their first outdoor title since 2002.
While it has been eight seasons since the Tigers have been crowned the NCAA Outdoor Champions, they own an impressive run with 10 top-five finishes at the NCAA Outdoor meet over the past 11 years. LSU's streak includes runner-up finishes in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and third-place finishes in 2004 and 2005.
While the Tigers have proven to be the most consistent men's team in the nation over the past decade, the Lady Tigers have finished outside the top seven in the team standings just once in the past 12 seasons.
LSU will have 28 scoring opportunities between the two teams at the national meet this week, including a total of 15 chances to score for the women and 13 chances to score for the men.
The semifinal round of the NCAA Championships will include the top 24 finishers in each event from the NCAA Preliminary Rounds held May 26-28. That includes the top 12 finishers in each event at the East site held at Billy Hayes Track in Bloomington, Ind., and the top 12 finishers in each event at the West site held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. This included the preliminary and quarterfinal rounds of the event.
LSU was among the most successful programs in qualifying during the NCAA Preliminary Rounds as the 28 entries combined between the Tigers and Lady Tigers ranks No. 2 among all teams making their trip to Des Moines. Texas A&M leads the way with 34 semifinalists between its men's and women's teams.
With 15 semifinalists competing, the Lady Tigers are actually tied for the third-highest representation this week along with the two-time defending NCAA Outdoor champion Aggies. Oregon and Texas feature the most chances to score in the hunt for the women's team title after qualifying 16 semifinalists apiece.
The Tigers are tied with Florida State for the fourth-highest representation in the NCAA semifinals on the men's side. Two-time defending NCAA Outdoor champion Texas A&M leads the way with 19 entries for its title defense, while Florida features 16 entries and Virginia Tech follows with 14 entries of their own.
The Texas A&M Aggies have swept the men's and women's national titles in each of the last two seasons at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, matching the feat accomplished first by LSU in 1989 and 1990.
"We certainly have the numbers and the kind of firepower we need to make a run at the title," Shaver said following Tuesday's training session. "We must be ready to match or beats our seasonal-best performance when we step onto the track or the runway or the circle for the first time to make it to the next round."
LSU looks to cap another successful campaign with its appearance at the 2011 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships this week. The Lady Tigers followed a third-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships by winning their fourth SEC Outdoor crown in five years. The Tigers also grabbed a team trophy at the NCAA Indoor Championships with a fourth-place national finish.
LSU Entries into the NCAA Championships Semifinals in Des Moines, Iowa
Note: All times/marks are seasonal bests achieved during the 2011 outdoor season
Name, Event, Time/Mark
Kyron Blaise, Triple Jump, 53-3 ½
Damar Forbes, Long Jump, 26-1 ¾
Walter Henning, Hammer Throw, 226-8
Riker Hylton, 400 meters, 45.85
Michael Lauro, Hammer Throw, 218-10
Barrett Nugent, 110 hurdles, 13.19w
Keyth Talley, 200 meters, 21.16w
Zedric Thomas, Long Jump, 26-0
Zedric Thomas, Triple Jump, 55-11 ¼w
Horatio Williams, 100 meters, 10.25
Horatio Williams, 200 meters, 20.42w
Nugent, H. Williams, Talley, Mvumvure; 4x100 relay; 38.77
Simmons, Alleyne-Forte, Hylton, C. Williams; 4x400 relay; 3:02.23
Name, Event, Time/Mark
Rebecca Alexander, 200 meters, 23.41w
Brittani Carter, High Jump, 5-11 ¼
Kimberlyn Duncan, 100 meters, 11.02w
Kimberlyn Duncan, 200 meters, 22.18w
Semoy Hackett, 100 meters, 10.98w
Semoy Hackett, 200 meters, 22.41w
Brieanna Kennedy, Hammer Throw, 191-3
Rachel Laurent, Pole Vault, 14-3 ¼
Charlene Lipsey, 800 meters, 2:05.05
Melissa Ogbourne, Triple Jump, 43-2 ¼w
Toshika Sylvester, 100 meters, 11.39w
Cassandra Tate, 400 hurdles, 56.03
Kenyanna Wilson, 100 meters, 11.11w
Wilson, Hackett, Alexander, Duncan; 4x100 relay; 43.31
Alexander, Tate, McDermott, Day; 4x400 relay; 3:32.09