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Battle on the Bayou Preview: The Matchups

Battle on the Bayou Preview: The Matchups

BATON ROUGE – As the LSU Track & Field program prepares to host the likes of Connecticut, Houston, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi State, Missouri, Penn State and Texas Tech in Saturday’s scored meet in the “Battle on the Bayou,” the event will feature an impressive field of athletes ready to take their effort to the next level as the outdoor season heats up this weekend.

The afternoon session will begin at 1:45 p.m. CDT at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium following its brief opening ceremony. The team champions at the second-annual “Battle on the Bayou” will be crowned immediately following the running of the 4×400-meter relay at approximately 5:30 p.m.

The morning session is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. with the women’s javelin on the west runway, while the field events will continue through the men’s hammer throw at 4 p.m.

Teams will be competing with the standard NCAA Championships scoring format of 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1, as 10 points will be awarded to the first-place finisher down to one point being awarded to the eighth-place finisher in each individual event. In addition, one relay for each squad entered in the meet will be allowed to score in both the 4×100-meter relay and 4×400-meter relay during the competition.

Listed below are the events that are sure to decide the men’s and women’s team champions in the meet as they feature many of the NCAA’s elite athletes with All-America aspirations this outdoor season.

Key Matchups at the “Battle on the Bayou”
Note: Events are listed in chronological order according to final time schedule.

Men’s Long Jump – 1:30 p.m.
Fans are in for a treat as they arrive at Bernie Moore Stadium for the start of the afternoon session as the men’s long jump competition features the NCAA’s top four performers in the event for the 2012 outdoor season. LSU junior Damar Forbes headlines a deep field as the 2011 NCAA Outdoor and 2012 NCAA Indoor silver medalist in the event. Forbes, who owns a lifetime personal record of 27 feet, 0 inches in the event, opened the outdoor season with a third-place finish at the Texas Relays last week while setting the No. 3-ranked mark under all conditions in the NCAA with a windy jump of 26-0 ¼. Forbes followed the NCAA’s No. 1 and No. 2 performances in the final standings at the Texas Relays as Mississippi State’s Jarrett Samuels won the event with a mark of 26-2 ¼w and Texas Tech’s Bryce Lamb followed in second place with a wind-aided jump of 26-0 ¾. Lamb earned All-America honors indoors this year after earning a fourth-place finish in the final long jump standings. The field also features Missouri’s Malcolm Pinnix, who was fourth at the Texas Relays with the NCAA’s No. 4-ranked all conditions mark of 25-5 ¼w in the 2012 outdoor season. In addition, LSU senior Kyron Blaise will make his outdoor debut in the event after claiming All-America honors indoors with a seventh-place finish nationally. Former LSU All-Americans Walter Davis and Jeremy Hicks are also scheduled to compete on Saturday. 

Women’s Hammer Throw – 2 p.m.
Many of the NCAA’s premier throwers will be in action on Saturday afternoon, led by a quartet of Top 20 performers in the women’s hammer throw. Melissa Kurzdorfer of Penn State leads the field with a seasonal-best mark of 206-7 to rank No. 8 nationally for 2012. But a pair of Lady Tigers will challenge for the event title as senior Brieanna Kennedy (203-0) ranks No. 9 and sophomore Karen Henning (197-2) ranks No. 15 in the NCAA rankings this season. Mississippi State’s Favian Cowards finds herself among the NCAA’s Top 20 this spring with a seasonal best of 194-8 for the SEC Indoor weight throw champion.

Women’s 4×100-Meter Relay – 2:15 p.m.
Saturday’s action is sure to heat up with the running of the women’s 4×100-meter relay as the defending NCAA champion LSU Lady Tigers lead a strong field featuring four of the top 12 relay teams nationwide this spring. The Lady Tigers captured the Texas Relays title in the event last week with a national-leading time of 42.99 seconds featuring a team of sophomore Takeia Pinckney, senior Semoy Hackett, senior Rebecca Alexander and junior Kimberlyn Duncan. LSU claimed its 13th NCAA title all-time in the sprint relay a year ago after setting a seasonal-best time of 42.64 in the national final. Joining LSU in the field is No. 7 Houston (44.09), No. 8 Texas Tech (44.18) and No. 12 Illinois (44.55) as each team lines up during the 2012 season with All-America aspirations this spring.

Men’s 4×100-Meter Relay – 2:20 p.m.
The men’s 4×100-meter relay also features a trio of NCAA title and All-America contenders that emerged from the final of the Clyde Littlefield 4×100-Meter Relay Championship at the Texas Relays last weekend. The Mississippi State Bulldogs are the top-ranked team in the field as their seasonal-best time of 39.17 earned a third-place finish with the No. 3-ranked time in the NCAA in the final at the Texas Relays. Texas Tech followed in fourth place in the race with the nation’s fourth-ranked time this year at 39.23, while LSU took sixth place with the ninth-fastest time in 2012 at 39.54. The Tigers lined up a team of senior Barrett Nugent, freshman Aaron Ernest, senior Keyth Talley and freshman Trevor Sansone in an appearance in the sprint relay final at the Texas Relays.

Women’s 100-Meter Hurdles – 2:45 p.m.
LSU’s Jasmin Stowers and Mississippi State’s Keisha Wallace are sure to battle it out for the event crown in the women’s 100-meter hurdles as each enter this weekend’s action with two of the fastest times for the campaign. Wallace cracked the NCAA’s Top 5 under all conditions with her performance at the Texas Relays last weekend as she clocked a seasonal-best wind-aided time of 12.97 in the university final to take third place overall with the No. 5-ranked performance in the NCAA this season. Stowers set a best of 13.03w in her third-place finish in the women’s invitational final for the NCAA’s No. 7-ranked time under all conditions in 2012. In addition, LSU’s Shanekia Hall (13.33) ranks No. 14 and Texas Tech’s Katie Grimes (13.38) ranks No. 16 on the NCAA performance list this spring.

Men’s 110-Meter Hurdles – 2:55 p.m.
In what is truly one of the marquee events during Saturday’s “Battle on the Bayou,” the men’s 110-meter hurdles will feature the NCAA’s two most dominant sprint hurdlers over the past two seasons in the form of national champions Barrett Nugent of LSU and Andrew Riley of Illinois. Nugent, who is the reigning NCAA Outdoor champion in the event, is off to a fast start in defense of his national crown after claiming the Texas Relays title last weekend with a national-leading wind-aided run of 13.37w in his first final of the season. Riley, who is set to make his outdoor debut in Baton Rouge this weekend, has earned a pair of NCAA titles during his collegiate career with an NCAA Outdoor title in the 110 hurdles in 2010 and an NCAA Indoor title in the 60 hurdles in 2011. The event also features Texas Tech’s Jamele Mason (13.75w) at No. 8 and Mississippi State’s Nathan Arnett (13.99w) at No. 19 on the NCAA list this season.

Men’s 400-Meter Dash – 3:15 p.m.
In what might be the most exciting event of this year’s “Battle on the Bayou,” the men’s 400-meter dash will feature an NCAA Championships caliber field as many of the nation’s premier quartermilers are ready to make their outdoor debut on Saturday afternoon at Bernie Moore Stadium. Headlining the event for the homestanding Tigers are a pair of All-Americans in senior Riker Hylton and junior Caleb Williams. Hylton, and NCAA Outdoor semifinalist a year ago, owns the second-best PR in the field with his career-low of 45.30 set in winning the Jamaican title last summer. Williams is fresh off a 2012 indoor season in which he earned his first career All-America honor in the open 400 with his fifth-place finish in the event at the NCAA Indoor Championships held at Jacksons Indoor Track in Nampa, Idaho. He set his outdoor PR of 45.61 a year ago. Mississippi State junior Tavaris Tate is sure to challenge for the event title as he has already run the No. 2-ranked time in the NCAA this season at 46.07. The former World Indoor gold medalist in the 4×400-meter relay for the United States has run a PR in the event at 44.86 as a freshman in 2010. Texas Tech features the NCAA’s No. 11-ranked performer this spring in Isaiah Gill, as he has run a best of 46.57 in 2012. Other quartermilers opening their outdoor season this weekend with an impressive personal best include Mississippi State’s James Harris (46.19) and Daundre Barnaby (46.60) and Penn State’s Brady Gehret (46.69).

Women’s 100-Meter Dash – 3:25 p.m.
Lady Tiger senior Semoy Hackett is off to a fast start in 2012 as she already ranks among the nation’s top five performers under all conditions in the 100-meter dash following her season-opening weekend at the Texas Relays a week ago. That’s where she opened with impressive wind-aided times of 11.24 and 11.16, while earning a fourth-place finish in the women’s university 100-meter final on Saturday. Hackett’s time of 11.16 in the final ranks No. 4 under all conditions in the NCAA this season. LSU great Muna Lee is set to make her 2012 outdoor debut as she has established a reputation as one of the world’s premier sprinters at the professional level. Lee is poised to make her third trip to the Olympic Games this summer after being crowned the U.S. Olympic Trials champion and earning a fifth-place finish in the Olympic final just four years ago in 2008. Texas Tech’s Terra Evans also lines up with the No. 14-ranked performance in the NCAA this season with a best of 11.45 in 2012.

Women’s Shot Put – 3:30 p.m.
Three of the Top 10 and four of the Top 20 shot putters in the NCAA will be in action Saturday afternoon to headline the throwing events at the “Battle on the Bayou.” Missouri’s standout freshman Kearsten Peoples is the favorite to take the title based on her early-season form as she enters the meet with a season best of 56-11 ½ that ranks No. 3 nationally for the 2012 outdoor season. She will be challenged for the crown by the Texas Tech duo of Ifeatu Okafor and Kelly Closse as Okafor owns the NCAA’s No. 6-ranked mark at 55-1 ½ and Closse has posted the NCAA’s No. 9-ranked mark at 54-2 ½ this spring. They will also be joined by Missouri’s Jill Rushin who ranks No. 18 nationally with her best of 52-8 ¾ in 2012.

Men’s 800-Meter Run – 3:45 p.m.
Saturday’s final of the men’s 800-meter run features as many as four runners who are poised to challenge for All-America honors in June as Penn State’s Robby Creese and Casimir Loxsom, Iowa’s Erik Sowinski and Missouri’s Ricky West are set to run their first half mile of the outdoor season. Sowinski, who owns an outdoor PR of 1:47.83 in the 800 meters, is coming off a 2012 indoor season in which he claimed the NCAA Indoor bronze medal with a third-place finish at the national meet. Joining Sowinski in the event final at the NCAA Indoor Championships was West, who claimed All-America honors with a strong eighth-place finish after setting his lifetime PR of 1:47.81 during the regular season. Loxsom owns the fastest personal best in the field as he has run as low as 1:45.28 during his Penn State career, while he earned All-America honors in the event a year ago with a fourth-place finish nationally in the 800-meter final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Loxsom is also a former World Junior Championships silver medalist in the event. Creese is off to a flying start in his collegiate career after wrapping up the indoor season as the Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year. His indoor season was highlighted by setting the collegiate record in the 1,000 meters with a time of 2:19.53.

Women’s 400-Meter Hurdles – 3:55 p.m.
Lady Tiger senior Cassandra Tate is set to make her outdoor debut in the 400-meter hurdles on Saturday afternoon after advancing to her first NCAA final in the event during the 2011 season. Tate set a personal best of 55.99 in the national semifinal en route to her finals appearance a year ago as she cracked the 56-second barrier for the first time in her collegiate career. She is also a former SEC Outdoor champion in the event. Challenging Tate in her season opener will be two of the NCAA’s Top 10 performers this year in Missouri’s Leslie Farmer (58.06) and Illinois’ Latoya Griffith. Farmer enters the weekend ranked No. 7 and Griffith enters the meet ranked No. 9 on the NCAA performance list for the 2012 season.

Women’s 200-Meter Dash – 4:10 p.m.
The women’s 200-meter dash features its share of firepower on Saturday as LSU’s Semoy Hackett will be doubling in the event following her appearance in the 100-meter dash earlier in the day. Hackett is certainly one of the nation’s premier dual sprinters as she earned All-America honors in the 200 meters in her first season with the Lady Tigers a year ago with her sixth-place finish in the national final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. She owns career-best times of 22.41 wind-aided and 22.75 wind-legal as a Lady Tiger. The field also features the NCAA’s No. 2-ranked performer through three weeks of the outdoor season as Illinois freshman Ashley Spencer has run a seasonal-best of 23.08. In addition, the Texas Tech trio of Taylor Evans (23.63), Candace Jackson (23.74) and Cierra White (23.80) are currently among the Top 30 performers in the NCAA this spring.

Women’s 4×400-Meter Relay – 5:15 p.m.
LSU and Texas Tech are national championship contenders outdoors in the 4×400-meter relay this season after running two of the three fastest times in the NCAA at the Texas Relays last weekend. While running with a team of senior Rebecca Alexander, senior Cassandra Tate, junior Siedda Herbert and senior Jonique Day, the Lady Tigers emerged as the No. 2-ranked team nationally with their time of 3:30.42 in a runner-up finish to national-leading Texas (3:29.79). The Red Raiders followed in third place in the event final as they were nearly two seconds behind LSU with a seasonal-best time of 3:32.36 that is currently in the No. 3 spot in the national rankings this season.

Men’s 4×400-Meter Relay – 5:25 p.m.
Just as they did in the Cleburne Price, Jr. 4×400-Meter Relay Championship at the Texas Relays last week in Austin, LSU and Mississippi State are sure to lock horns on Saturday in the finale of this year’s “Battle on the Bayou.” The Tigers took home their sixth 4×400-meter relay title all-time at the Texas Relays after the team of senior Robert Simmons, junior Caleb Williams, senior Ade Alleyne-Forte and senior Riker Hylton clocked a seasonal-best time of 3:04.54 to move into the No. 3 spot in the NCAA rankings for this season. The Bulldogs followed in fifth place with the NCAA’s No. 7-ranked time of the year at 3:05.58. Each team earned All-America honors during the indoor season as LSU was the NCAA Indoor bronze medalist and Mississippi State trailed in fourth place in the national final. Iowa enters Saturday’s event as the No. 9-ranked mile relay team outdoors in the NCAA with its top time of 3:06.49. In addition, Houston has run 3:08.21 for the No. 16-ranked performance nationally on the season.