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'Battle on the Bayou' Preview: The Matchups

'Battle on the Bayou' Preview: The Matchups

BATON ROUGE – As members of the LSU Track & Field program prepare to host the likes of Arizona State, Connecticut, Mississippi State and Penn State in Saturday’s scored meet at the third-annual “Battle on the Bayou,” the Tigers and Lady Tigers are expecting an impressive field of athletes to compete at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium.

The afternoon session is scheduled to begin at 1:45 p.m. CT following a brief opening ceremony. The team champions will be crowned immediately following the running of the 4×400-meter relays at 4:05 p.m.

The morning session is set to start at 10 a.m. with the women’s javelin on the East runway and the men’s javelin on the West runway, while the field events will continue through the men’s triple jump at 3:15 p.m.

Teams in both genders will be competing with an alternate scoring format of 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 with the top two athletes for each team earning points in each individual event. The scoring format for relays is 9-7-6-5 with just one relay per team allowed to score in both the 4×100-meter and 4×400-meter relays.

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 top athletes with All-America aspirations during the 2013 outdoor season.

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

Women’s Javelin – 10 a.m.
Two Nittany Lions are sure to battle it out for the women’s javelin crown in the first event of this year’s “Battle on the Bayou” as junior Laura Loht and sophomore Lauren Kenney are among the NCAA leaders this year. Loht returns as the NCAA Outdoor bronze medalist from a year ago when she threw a personal best of 169 feet, 4 inches for third place in the javelin at the 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. She then competed in the event at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials as one of the top performers in the United States for the 2012 season. Loht has thrown a seasonal best of 159-7 in her only javelin appearance on the year as she currently ranks No. 14 in the NCAA ranks this spring. Kenney has emerged as one of the NCAA’s best javelin throwers as a sophomore after launching a personal best of 176-11 for the win at the Crimson Tide Invitational last weekend. That performance is the NCAA’s No. 2-ranked javelin throw this season.

Men’s Discus Throw – 11:15 a.m.
Saturday’s competition in the men’s discus throw certainly features its share of star power as LSU sophomore Rodney Brown headlines the field as the No. 2-ranked performer in the NCAA for the 2013 season. After smashing his lifetime PR with a seasonal-best throw of 206-3 in a second-place finish at the Texas Relays two weeks ago, Brown followed with an impressive 199-6 for second place at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational last weekend as he finished runner-up to NCAA leader Julian Wruck of UCLA in both competitions. Brown will look to win his third discus crown in five appearances this spring as he sees a field which also features Arizona State’s Jordan Clarke, Connecticut’s Eric Masington and Penn State’s Will Barr. Clarke has made his name as the NCAA’s top shot putter over the past three seasons as a four-time national champion in the event, but he is also a strong discus thrower in his own right with a seasonal-best mark of  186-8 that ranks No. 18 on the NCAA list in 2013. Masington follows closely behind at No. 22 in the NCAA ranks with a best of 185-3 this year, while Barr has thrown a seasonal best of 176-5 for the season.

Women’s Discus Throw – 12:30 p.m.
The field in the women’s discus at this year’s “Battle on the Bayou” features the NCAA leader in the event as Arizona State junior Anna Jelmini is coming off a victory at the Mesa Classic last weekend where she posted a national-leading mark of 198-10. Jelmini is a strong contender to win her first career national championship this year after winning back-to-back NCAA Outdoor silver medals as a freshman in 2011 and as a sophomore in 2012. Also an All-American shot putter during her collegiate career at Arizona State, Jelmini is also entered in the women’s shot put competition during Saturday’s action. Joining her teammate in the discus field is Arizona State’s Alex Hartig, who enters the weekend with a seasonal-best and personal-best mark of 167-3 to rank among the NCAA’s Top 40 this season. Hartig was a qualifier in the discus at the NCAA West Prelims in her redshirt freshman season a year ago.

Women’s Long Jump – 1 p.m.
Arizona State also features the NCAA’s leading long jumper on the women’s side in 2013 as senior standout Christabel Nettey is the first collegiate athlete to eclipse 22 feet in the event this year with her best of 22-1 ¾ at ASU’s Sun Angel Classic last weekend. A three-time NCAA Championships scorer in the event, Nettey emerged as a national championship contender during the 2013 indoor season when she scored the silver medal at the NCAA Indoor Championships while posting the same mark of 21-6 as gold medalist Andrea Geubelle of Kansas. NCAA Indoor pentathlon champion Erica Bougard is also in the long jump field as she has emerged as one of the NCAA’s rising stars during her sophomore season at Mississippi State. Bougard set a lifetime PR of 21-1 ¼ in the long jump in the pentathlon at the SEC Indoor Championships back in February. Lady Tiger senior Brittany Porter looks to carry the torch for the home team in the event as she recorded a seasonal-best performance where she jumped a wind-legal 20-1 ½ in her win at UCLA’s Rafer Johnson/Jackie-Joyner Kersee Invitational last weekend.

Men’s High Jump – 1:30 p.m.
Headlining the field in the men’s high jump is Mississippi State’s Marcus Jackson, the NCAA Indoor silver medalist and NCAA’s No. 2-ranked performer in the event outdoors during the 2013 season. Jackson was one of the emerging stars with his performance at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March as he cleared a lifetime best of 7-6 to claim an improbable runner-up finish while finishing second only to Indiana’s Derek Drouin for the national championship. Jackson even took down Kansas State’s Olympic silver medalist Erik Kynard with fewer misses as he matched the Wildcat star with a clearance at 7-6. Jackson has continued to shine outdoors as he has already cleared a seasonal best of 7-5 ¼ as he again trails only Drouin in the national rankings. Other seven-footers in the men’s high jump field include Arizona State’s Bryan McBride (7-5), Connecticut’s Noel James (7-3) and Penn State’s Sean Reilly (7-1 ¾).

Women’s Hammer Throw – 1:45 p.m.
The Arizona State women feature a third NCAA leader in Saturday’s field-event action as senior Chelsea Cassulo has thrown the hammer a distance of 229-0 this spring to lead the rest of the country by nearly 10 feet in the event as the early-season favorite to take home the national title. Cassulo is also coming off a weekend in which she threw her second-best mark of the year at 226-0 at ASU’s Sun Angel Classic, which is a performance that is still more than six feet farther than the 219-9 by Bowling Green’s Brooke Pleger for the No. 2 spot in the national rankings this spring. Cassulo earned All-America honors during the indoor season as she placed fourth nationally in the weight throw at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Chasing Cassulo in the event will be Penn State’s Melissa Kurzdorfer as an NCAA finalist in the hammer throw a year ago and LSU’s Karen Henning (201-0) at No. 14 and Denise Hinton(195-11) at No. 24 in the NCAA rankings in 2013

Women’s 100-Meter Hurdles – 2:05 p.m.
LSU’s Jasmin Stowers looks to continue her All-America form this weekend as she has already enjoyed her most successful season as a Lady Tiger in 2013. An NCAA Indoor bronze medalist in the 60-meter hurdles, Stowers is the NCAA’s No. 3-ranked performer in the 100-meter hurdles this outdoor season after running a seasonal-best wind-aided time of 12.88 seconds in a third-place finish at the Texas Relays two weeks ago. She is also coming off a victory at UCLA’s Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational last Saturday where she ran the NCAA’s fastest wind-legal time this season at 13.07 that ranks her No. 2 in the World ranking in 2013. The women’s 100-meter hurdles is sure to be an exciting event at this year’s “Battle on the Bayou” as it also features a number of other NCAA title contenders in other events, including Arizona State’s Christabel Nettey and Keia Pinnick and Mississippi State’s Erica Bougard. An NCAA Indoor pentathlon champion, Bougard owns a PR of 13.39 in the 100 hurdles as one of her strongest individual events. Pinnick has run even faster than Bougard at 13.32 as one of the nation’s premier heptathletes and Nettey, the NCAA leader in the long jump, has run a personal best of 13.42 in the event.

Women’s 400 Meters – 2:20 p.m.
The women’s 400-meter dash is likely feature a battle to the finish line between two Jamaican internationals in LSU’s Natoya Goule and Mississippi State’s Jodi-Ann Muir. An NCAA Indoor champion in the 800-meter run, Goule has made her name as one of the world’s top young 800-meter runners as the SEC leader, NCAA leader and World leader in the event during the 2013 outdoor season. She broke LSU’s school record and set a new World-leading time of 2 minutes, 1.18 seconds at UCLA’s Drake Stadium last weekend in one of the NCAA’s strongest performances of the spring. Goule will drop down and run the 400 meters this weekend as she is set to face Muir in one of the more exciting races of the afternoon. Muir is a returning All-American in the event after taking seventh place in the women’s 400-meter final at the NCAA Outdoor Championships a year ago. Goule owns an outdoor PR of 51.52 in the 400 meters, while Muir has run a best of 52.00 during her collegiate career.

Men’s 400 Meters – 2:25 p.m.
The men’s 400-meter dash features perhaps the deepest field at the third-annual “Battle on the Bayou” as the event features three of the Top 12 400-meter sprinters in the NCAA this season and six sprinters with PRs faster than 47 seconds outdoors during their collegiate careers. LSU’s Quincy Downing and Darrell Bush were impressive in a 1-2 sweep at UCLA’s Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational last weekend as Downing ran the NCAA’s No. 8-ranked time of 46.27 for the win and Bush ran the NCAA’s No. 12-ranked time with a lifetime personal best of 46.37 for second place in the event. Mississippi State’s Daundre Barnaby has also been impressive with his performance in 2013 as he ranks No. 10 nationally in the 400-meter dash with a seasonal-best time of 46.32 in the event this season. Barnaby has run as fast at 45.67 during his collegiate career with the Bulldogs. Other entries who have also broken 47 seconds in their careers include Mississippi State’s Tavaris Tate (44.86) and Brandon McBride (46.25) and Arizona State’s William Henry (46.27).

Men’s 100 Meters – 2:40 p.m.
While running in only one 100-meter final this season, LSU’s sophomore Aaron Ernest is the NCAA’s No. 6-ranked performer in the event under all conditions in 2013 thanks to his wind-legal run of 10.18 for a second-place finish at the Texas Relays on March 30. That is actually the NCAA’s second-fastest wind-legal time posted this spring as Ernest is an All-America contender in the 100-meter dash again this spring. Ernest, the reigning World Junior Championships silver medalist, was just one one-hundredth of a second off of his wind-legal PR of 10.17 set twice during his freshman season in the semifinal round at the NCAA Championships and in the final at the IAAF World Junior Championships last summer. Ernest will be challenge by a pair of Arizona State Sun Devils as senior Chris Burrows and junior Ryan Milus have ranked among the leading sprinters in the Pac-12 Conference during their collegiate careers in Tempe. Milus trails Ernest as the No. 11-ranked 100-meter sprinter in the NCAA this season with his seasonal-best time of 10.29 that is also the NCAA’s fourth-fastest wind-legal performance of 2013. Milus owns an impressive wind-legal PR of 10.21 in the event. Burrows has run a PR of 10.36 during his collegiate career.

Women’s 400-Meter Hurdles – 3 p.m.
Lining up in the women’s 400-meter hurdles during Saturday’s action at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium will be three athletes who have run under 58 seconds during their collegiate careers as LSU’s Nikita Tracey, Arizona State’s Keia Pinnick and Penn State’s Evonne Britton will battle one another for the top spot on the podium. Tracey certainly holds the advantage as she ranks No. 8 in the NCAA with her seasonal best of 57.35 clocked at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational a week ago, while she also owns a lifetime PR of 56.89 in the event. Pinnick follows closely behind as the NCAA’s No. 12-ranked 400-meter hurdles in 2013 as she has posted a best of 57.89 this season and 57.34 during her collegiate career. Britton will make her season debut in the event on Saturday afternoon following a junior season in 2012 in which she raced to a PR of 57.41 in the 400 hurdles. Also ranking among the Top 30 hurdlers in the NCAA this season are Penn State’s Kiah Seymour (59.24) at No. 25 and LSU’s Shana-Gaye Tracey (59.27) at No. 26.

Women’s 4×400-Meter Relay – 3:55 p.m.
The Lady Tigers feature one of the nation’s premier 4×400-meter relay teams year in and year out, and that is certainly the case again in 2013 following an All-American sixth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships to wrap up the indoor season on March 9. They have held their form and rank No. 6 nationally in the event outdoors with a seasonal-best time of 3:32.04 run at the Texas Relays two weeks ago. LSU has also substituted its lineup this spring while also running 3:34.94 at UCLA’s Drake Stadium last weekend. Arizona State joined LSU as an NCAA Indoor qualifier last month as the Sun Devil women earned a 12th-place finish nationally with their performance at the NCAA Indoor Championships. The Sun Devils have raced to an outdoor best of 3:37.37 as the No. 18-ranked squad in the NCAA this season. Mississippi State also features one of the Top 25 relay teams in the country this spring as the Bulldog women rank No. 23 nationally with a top time of 3:39.05 on the year.

Men’s 4×400-Meter Relay – 4 p.m.
Fans are in for a treat in the final event of the third-annual “Battle on the Bayou” meet as the men’s 4×400-meter relay will be one of the more exciting races of the day while featuring two of the Top 5, three of the Top 10 and four of the Top 15 relay teams in the NCAA rankings this season. LSU and Mississippi State have already raced one another this outdoor season with the Tigers finishing just ahead of the Bulldogs in the finals of the Cleburne Price, Jr. 4×400-Meter Relay at the 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on March 30. That’s where the Tigers ran the NCAA’s No. 4-ranked time of 3:05.27 and the Bulldogs followed with the NCAA’s No. 5-ranked time of 3:05.35 in a race that is sure to feature many of the teams running in the NCAA final later this season. Arizona State also enters the weekend with one of the nation’s elite relay teams in 2013 as the Sun Devils have run a best of 3:06.12 to rank No. 7 in the event nationally this spring. The Penn State Nittany Lions will also run for the event crown in Saturday’s finale as they own a seasonal-best time of 3:07.31 as the No. 12-ranked relay team in the NCAA ranks for the 2013 season.