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LSU's Sean "Squirrel" Burrell, shown competing in the Alumni Gold meet last season, is among a strong group of returnees from the team that won the NCAA outdoor title. Burrell won the NCAA 400-meter hurdles title with a U20 world-record time of 47.85 seconds.

In 2021, the LSU men’s track and field team duplicated what the school’s football team did just two years earlier: It lapped the field.

Dennis Shaver’s Tigers put together a season to remember — one for the ages, actually — when it claimed the NCAA outdoor title by a whopping 31 points over Oregon on the Ducks’ brand new oval.

Winning six of the meet’s 21 events, just one off the record of seven set back in 1936, LSU’s margin of victory was the largest in 27 years.

But last year was last year, and LSU begin its quest for another national title with returning athletes accounting for just 35½ of the 84 points the Tigers racked up in Eugene, Oregon, last June.

For Shaver, there’s no time to worry about the 40½ points and three individual wins Terrance Laird and JuVaughn Harrison took with them when they turned pro after that historic NCAA championship meet.

The indoor season begins Friday when the LSU men and women host the annual Purple Tiger Invitational in the Carl Maddox Field House.

UNO, Southeastern, Nicholls State and Loyola will also be in the meet that begins at 11 a.m. in the field and 2 p.m. on the track.

Shaver’s program has traditionally been built for the outdoor season, and this season is no exception.

He returns reigning NCAA champions Sean "Squirrel" Burrell in the 400-meter hurdles and Tzuriel Pedigo in the javelin, but they won’t get to compete in their signature events until the outdoor season.

Both were freshmen last season when Burrell set an under-20 world record in winning the 400 hurdles in 47.85 seconds and Pedigo unleashed a monster final-round throw of 252 feet, 7 inches that vaulted him from seventh place to first in the javelin.

Noah Williams is also back after claiming the NCAA indoor title in the 400 and finishing third outdoors. Sean Dixon-Bodie is back after taking fourth in the outdoor triple jump to cap a solid freshman campaign.

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In addition to being a solid 400 meters specialist, Williams ran on the winning 4x100-meter relay team that lost Laird as well Dylan Peebles and Akanni Hislop.

Also back are three NCAA scorers in the throws — Jake Norris, Jon Nerdal and John Meyer, a transfer from Michigan.

“It’s not like the cupboard was empty, but we’re going to find out in June what we have,” Shaver said. “That’s a solid group, a good nucleus of people that I’m really pleased about.”

He’s equally excited about the women’s team that finished sixth at nationals.

That group returns pole vaulter Lisa Gunnarsson, who swept the NCAA indoor and outdoor titles — the first woman to do that since 2010 — and also holds both school records.

She’s joined by NCAA scorers Favour Ofili, Abby O’Donoghue, Nyagoa Bayak, Amber Anning, Thelma Davies and Morgan Smalls.

A USC transfer, Smalls scored in the indoor and outdoor high jump last season as a freshman for the Trojans.

Also returning are Symone Mason, Lorena Rangel, Leah Phillips and Katy-Ann McDonald, who had a solid cross country season.

“The women’s team is a lot like the men … I’m excited for them,” Shaver said. “We have a more well-rounded group than the men.

"We’ve got some really good people in all different event areas except the throws. So I feel good about them.”

Email Sheldon Mickles at smickles@theadvocate.com