As early as it is in the indoor track and field season, there’s nothing like a good, old-fashioned scoring meet to get the juices flowing.
These days, scored meets on the college level are pretty rare. But they’re important to LSU coach Dennis Shaver and Texas A&M’s Pat Henry, whose teams will be joined by Arkansas for a triangular at 11 a.m. Saturday at Gilliam Indoor Stadium in College Station, Texas.
Points will be distributed on a 7-6-4-3-2-1 basis in all individual events and 7-5-4 for relays. Only two athletes, as well as one relay from each school, will be allowed to score points toward the final team total.
A&M and LSU held a dual indoor meet the past two seasons, but Arkansas was invited this year to make things more competitive — which is what their respective coaches are looking for.
“I think this meet is a very good thing because it brings out the team aspect and shows how every person counts,” said Shaver, whose team opened the season last week in the Crimson Tide Indoor Opener in Birmingham, Ala. “Early in the season, you’re trying to develop a team identity.
“So it’s good to have a scoring meet, because you’re going head-to-head with real good teams and competing as a team like at the conference and national meets later this season. They have a great facility, and they run a good meet.”
The Texas A&M Triangular was tabbed the Division I Meet of the Week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association — and with good reason.
The Arkansas men were ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls, while A&M was fourth and LSU 10th.
On the women’s side, LSU ranks fourth, while A&M and Arkansas are sixth and seventh, respectively.
So the competition for points should be good, Henry said.
“Track and field has done a poor job of making people understand that it’s important to have a meet and score it,” said Henry, who coached LSU from 1987 to 2004. “Somebody is going to walk out of the building winning, and that’s important.
“It’s real good for everybody,” Henry said. “If you win, it shows some things about yourself. If you get beat, it shows some things that you need to know about yourself and how you have to improve.”
Henry has long been a proponent of scored meets, and annually makes a plea at the USTFCCA convention to hold true team championships at the end of the indoor and outdoor seasons. But that usually falls on deaf ears.
“In my opinion, we need a team championship,” he said. “Right now, we qualify for NCAAs as individuals, but we need to qualify as teams for the national championships. Having regular, scored meets will build on that.”
Like the one Saturday that will feature longtime Southeastern Conference powers Arkansas and LSU and SEC newcomer Texas A&M, which ruled the Big 12 in recent years.
“I think there are some great matchups in this meet across the board,” Henry said. “Each school has someone in almost every event, so I can’t think of any area where these schools are weak.”
Shaver, whose team has had some success at A&M in their dual meets, is expecting more after many of his athletes opened with solid performances last week in Birmingham.
“We’ve gone to A&M and won, and we’ve gone there and haven’t won,” he said. “No matter what happens, you’ve continued preparing for the team aspect of the season.”
So this week’s meet is a good natural progression, he said.
“Our returning athletes, in almost all cases, performed at a higher level than they did in the first meet last year, if you go back and compare them,” said Shaver. “And some of our new people were competing indoors for the first time in their lives and they got rid of some nervous energy.
“The things I looked for were a competitive effort, and they executed what we asked them to do in the early part of their races. We didn’t ask them to do too much, and we got a good effort from them.”
Several of LSU’s top athletes will make their season debuts in races other than the ones they ran in last week.
Among them are Kimberlyn Duncan, who will race in the 200 meters after lining up in the 60 last week; Aaron Ernest, who’ll go in the 60 after competing in the 200 last week; and quarter-miler Caleb Williams, who did not compete last week.