For three of the next four weekends, the LSU track and field teams can keep their overused travel bags in the closet.
After being on the road for seven of the past eight meets, a stretch that goes back to the indoor season, the Tigers and Lady Tigers will finally feel at home Saturday and for the final two weekends in April.
LSU was on the road for five of the past six indoor meets and then participated in the Hurricane Twilight in Miami and Texas Relays to open the outdoor portion of its schedule.
“With all the traveling we do during the indoor season, it’s really nice to not have to travel and stay here at home in your own environment,” LSU coach Dennis Shaver said. “The track is good and the weather’s nice.”
In fact, ideal weather is expected Saturday for the Battle on the Bayou, a seven-team meet. It begins with the field events at 9 a.m. and continues with track events at noon in Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
The third-ranked Lady Tigers and No. 5 Tigers will host fellow Southeastern Conference members Alabama and Mississippi State as well as Kansas State and Oklahoma of the Big 12 and Ohio State and Purdue of the Big 10 in a meet that will be scored by conference.
The top two individuals from each conference will score for their league with points awarded on a 7-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Only one relay per conference will score on a 7-5-4 basis.
Shaver’s teams got off to a solid start in the first two weeks of the outdoor season even though the Tigers and Lady Tigers were hampered a bit by rain and chilly conditions at the Texas Relays last weekend.
For Shaver, the big emphasis Saturday will be on the relays. He wants to see more improvement in those races with his team less than four weeks out from the start of the postseason at the SEC championships.
“Some of our athletes will be opening up in their regular events, even though some of them will be running different events than they normally would,” he said. “We’re looking for the relay people to become more familiar, with each other with the goal of taking another step and improving there.”
The Tigers, who won the 4x400-meter relay title at the NCAA indoor meet last month, already lead the nation outdoors, while the 4x100 unit ranks fifth in the nation.
The team of LaMar Bruton, Fitzroy Dunkley, Cyril Grayson and Michael Cherry turned in a time of 3 minutes, 01.83 seconds to win the Texas Relays and Jordan Moore, Jaron Flournoy, Tinashe Mutanga and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake had a season’s-best of 39.33 seconds in winning at Miami.
Shaver said Tremayne Acy, who figures to be on the short relay later this season, may be back next week after suffering an injury in the indoor season.
On the women’s side, the 4x100 team of Rushell Harvey, Kortnei Johnson, Jada Martin and Mikiah Brisco posted the second-fastest time in the nation in winning the Texas Relays title with a time of 43.25.
Brisco will also make her seasonal debut in the 100 meters.
“There’s a lot of competition to get on that relay,” said Shaver, who’ll enter a second team composed of Rachel Misher, Kiersten Duncan, Shayna Yon and Nataliyah Friar. “We feel good about the group we had running at Texas. The key is to keep them healthy and keep them going.”
The 4x400 relay team of Travia Jones, Martin, Misher and Chanice Chase will try to bring their time down after finishing sixth at the Texas Relays in 3:33.69.
Individually, Shaver said most of his athletes won’t compete in their primary events until the Texas Invitational next weekend in Austin, Texas. After that, LSU will host the Alumni Gold meet on April 23 and the LSU Invitational on April 30.
“We’re just doing things we need to do to get ready and prepare for a long season,” he said. “We’ll have most of our people in their specialty next week.”