After six outdoor competitions, the LSU track and field teams have a little unfinished business to take care of before final exams and their two biggest meets of the season.
While it’s not a high-pressure competition or a prestigious meet like the Texas Relays or Penn Relays, the LSU Invitational on Saturday nonetheless will be an important step for the No. 2 Tigers and No. 8 Lady Tigers.
With a week of exams coming, which will be followed in short order by the Southeastern Conference championships and NCAA East preliminary rounds two weeks later, there are still things to do, coach Dennis Shaver said.
“We’ve made a lot of progress over the last month as we move into the early part of May,” he said. “But we’re still trying to get a few additional things accomplished before the SEC meet and NCAAs.”
Shaver hopes to get that done in the LSU Invitational, a meet in which he and his staff won’t over-extend their athletes with the most important competitions still ahead.
LSU will line up against a select field that includes SEC foes Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss as well as Miami. The meet begins at 9:30 a.m. with the field events and at 12:10 p.m. with track events.
The program’s seniors will be recognized in their final competition at Bernie Moore Stadium between the 3,000- and 5,000-meter races.
“The key for us this season is we’ve stayed pretty healthy throughout the outdoor season, and we’ve had some real good marks that are in the top 10 in the NCAA,” Shaver said. “With exams coming up, we just want to try and keep our athletes focused and sharp.”
Considering that, most of the Tigers and Lady Tigers will line up in just one or two events Saturday. That will give them another opportunity to compete, Shaver said, as well as provide time to finish exams and recover for the SEC meet May 14-16.
LSU is coming off a solid performance at the Penn Relays with four individual wins and two relay victories.
Rodney Brown won the discus and remains undefeated as the national leader this season going into Saturday’s competition, Jordan Moore raced to a win in the 110-meter hurdles, Tori Bliss claimed the title in the shot put and Nataliyah Friar took the long jump title.
The Lady Tigers won the shuttle hurdle relay and the Tigers took the title in the 4x400-meter relay. Their trophy haul gave the LSU program 70 individual wins and 70 relay wins all-time at the Penn Relays.
“Historically, that’s a pretty cool thing,” Shaver said.
The rest of the season will be about the here and now, he said, with an eye on remaining healthy after a 2014 season in which several members of his team were plagued by injuries that affected their performances at the conference and national meets.
Some of LSU’s top-end sprinters like Aaron Ernest, Vernon Norwood, Quincy Downing, Jada Martin, Mikiah Brisco and Aleia Hobbs will be limited to one or two races.
Ernest and Norwood are set to run on the 4x100 relay, which has the second-fastest time in the nation this spring. But Ernest’s only other race will be the 100 meters, while Norwood, the NCAA leader in the 400 meters at 44.44 seconds, will skip his signature race and 4x400 relay. The Lady Tigers’ sprint relay team has recorded the nation’s third-fastest time.
“We’ll run our normal 4x100 teams in this meet, but we’re not going to run the 4x400s,” Shaver said. “We don’t need to put an extra race on them. Everybody will compete in something, it just might not be their specialty.”