Baton Rouge, La. – Fans of the sprints, hurdles and relays will have plenty of exciting races to watch this Saturday as Texas A&M competes in the Alumni Gold Invitational hosted by LSU at Bernie Moore Stadium.
The meet will feature a blend of talent from the SEC, Conference USA and the Southland while the Aggies are the lone entrant from the Big 12. Among the schools scheduled to compete at the Alumni Gold are Alabama, East Carolina, Houston, McNeese State, Mississippi, Tennessee (women), and Tulane.
Among the field are seven teams currently ranked in the top 25 by Trackwire. On the women’s side they include LSU (2), Texas A&M (6), and Tennessee (17), while the men’s squads are LSU (5), McNeese State (16), Texas A&M (19), and Mississippi (25).
Also expected to compete are a collection of Olympians who are former students at LSU including Alleyne Francique, who still trains with Coach Henry. Tyrone Edgar, a former A&M All-American sprinter, will run his first outdoor race of the season in Baton Rouge.
The meet begins at 11:30 a.m. Saturday with field events while running events get started at 2 p.m. The meet concludes around 7 p.m. with the 4 x 400.
Around 35 athletes entered in the meet are currently ranked among Trackwire’s Dandy Dozen. In addition the women’s relays feature three of the top five rated teams in both the 4 x 100 (2. LSU, 3. Texas A&M and 4. Tennessee) and 4 x 400 (2. Texas A&M, 3. LSU, and 5. Louisiana Tech), while the men have two of the top rated teams in the nation in Texas A&M (No. 2 4x1, No. 4 4x4) and LSU (No. 8 4x1, No. 2 4x4).
Showdowns in the women’s sprints will include the three athletes in the women’s 400 have clocked sub 53-second times this season. LSU’s Cynethia Rooks has the top time of 52.60 followed closely by A&M’s Clora Williams with a 52.67 while Deonna Lawrence sports a 52.80. Katie Baker will contest her first 400 of the outdoor season after running a 52.9 lead-off split on the winning Aggie 4 x 400 last weekend.
In the hurdles, the top five entrants are separated by a scant 0.2 of a second with their season best times to date. Meanwhile, the 400 hurdles will feature LSU’s Nickiesha Wilson, who is the current national leader with a 56.67 clocking.
Texas A&M had a trio of hurdlers set career bests in placing 3-4-5 among an professional field at the Miami Elite Invitational last week. They group was led by Jennifer Williams, who lowered her best from 13.40 to 13.27, and followed by Tresha Henry (13.56) and Whitney Holmes (13.58).
In the relays, LSU and the Aggies have recorded some of the faster times this season. The Tigers have a best of 43.70 in the sprint relay along with a 3:32.80 in the 4 x 400. Texas A&M has clocked a school record of 43.87 twice this season in the 4 x 1. The best mark in the 4 x 400 is a 3:38.40, but the Aggies have yet to run the unit that posted a 3:29.93 for runner-up honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
On the men’s side the 400 will likely be the featured race of the meet as Francique runs in the same heat with fellow LSU Olympian Derrick Brew and former Tiger Xavier Carter, who had a hand in four victories (100, 400, 4 x 1 and 4 x 4) at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships.
The sprint fields have five sprinters separated by 0.10 of a second in the 100 and just 0.05 of a second in the 200. A&M’s Richard Adu-Bobie recently set season best marks of 10.33 and 20.95 last week at the Miami Elite Invitational.
LSU’s Isa Phillips currently has the second-fastest 400 hurdle collegiate mark on the season with a 49.76. A&M’s Nick Robinson, who set a season best of 51.14 during the prelims of the Texas Relays, defeated Phillips on his home track a year ago, 50.52 to 50.66.
The Aggies head into the Alumni Gold meet with the second best collegiate time in the 4 x 100, a 39.49 which won the Miami Elite Invitational, while LSU sports a 39.64. In the 4 x 400 it’s LSU who holds the edge with a 3:04.64 to A&M’s 3:05.98.
In the field events a highlight event will likely be the javelin, where six throwers have exceeded 220 feet this season and rank between No. 3 and No. 16 on the current collegiate list. The group is led by McNeese State freshman Chris Hill, who is third in the nation with a 234-1.
The women’s javelin field has five throwers who have bettered 151 feet this season, led by Aggie Michelle Inocencio, who is fifth in the nation with her career best toss of 171-8 set in Monterrey during spring break this year.
A&M triple jumper Zuheir Sharif will contest the long jump this week against a field that will include three jumpers who have marks among the top 12 in the nation as well as eight athletes who have jumped better than 24 feet.