While the LSU Alumni Gold meet brings back some of the program’s former stars to campus each spring, Dennis Shaver and his coaches will have their focus on the immediate future Saturday.
With just two meets remaining in the regular season and less than three weeks until the Southeastern Conference championships, Shaver will be thinking only about the past as it pertains to the level of competition his No. 4 Lady Tigers and No. 5 Tigers will face in Bernie Moore Stadium.
The meet includes 16 NCAA champions, 36 All-Americans and two world championships medalists.
“I think this is the perfect weekend for this meet from the standpoint that people are starting to ramp up their preparations for the postseason,” Shaver said. “Everybody will have their people in their primary events, because we’re only a little more than 2½ weeks away from the championship meets.”
In addition to LSU, the 24-team meet features Texas (No. 4 men, No. 7 women), Tennessee (No. 24 men, No. 16 women), Mississippi State (No. 11 women), Arizona (No. 23 women), Clemson and Iowa State. State schools participating are Louisiana-Lafayette, Southeastern, Tulane, UNO, Louisiana Tech, McNeese State and Northwestern State.
The meet begins at 8:30 a.m. on the track with the B Section events, with field events starting at 9 a.m. and A Section track events at 1:20 p.m. There is no admission charge.
“Some of our NCAA-level athletes will be lining up in their primary events for the first time in the outdoor season, so we will be simulating things for the SEC meet, the NCAA preliminary rounds and NCAA championships,” Shaver said.
That’ll be the case for several of LSU’s elite sprinters as Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Tremayne Acy run the 200 meters for the first time outdoors, while Michael Cherry, LaMar Bruton and Fitzroy Dunkley will make their debut in the 400 along with Daeshon Gordon in the women’s 100-meter hurdles.
“That’s something we’re looking forward to,” Shaver said. “We’re still piecing together some of our sprint relays, so we’ll take another look at those. We need to get more people prepared should we need them during the championship season. We need to create a little more depth and chemistry, so we’ll get some people in there and see if we can improve our times, too.”
Shaver said Aleia Hobbs, who had knee surgery in August, likely will run on the women’s 4x100 relay for the first time as she works her way back. Even without her, LSU has recorded the third-fastest time in the country this season.
On the men’s side, Acy, who had a hamstring injury for most of the indoor season, returned last week and teamed up with Tinashe Mutanga, Jaron Flournoy and Mitchell-Blake to post the fastest time in the country at 38.95 seconds.
“Lots of things like that will be happening this week,” Shaver said. “We’re excited for the opportunities they’ll be getting. They just weren’t healthy enough to get them in the lineup and get them through a meet.”
Shaver said the men’s 200 and 400 should be among the top events, along with the women’s 100 hurdles.
“They’re going to be top-notch competitions because all of those events have some Olympic-type athletes as well as some future Olympians competing in their specialty events,” Shaver said.
Among the many former LSU athletes expected to compete are Vernon Norwood, the reigning U.S. indoor champion at 400 meters who anchored the 4x400 relay to a gold medal at the world championships, and Cassandra Tate, the bronze medalist in the 400 hurdles at the outdoor worlds in August.
Former Lady Tigers Kimberlyn Duncan, a six-time NCAA champion in the indoor and outdoor 200, and Jasmin Stowers, who is coming off an outstanding first season as a professional in the 100 hurdles, also will compete as they continue their quest for berths on the U.S. Olympic team.