Tigers Prep for Ole Miss Invite
April 8, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The University of Memphis track and field team will have a short weekend, competing all day Saturday, at the Ole Miss Invitational. The meet will begin at 10 a.m. with the men’s hammer throw and is scheduled to conclude at 7:40 p.m. with the men’s 4x400m relay.
“Ole Miss is a fast track that can lead to some good marks if the weather cooperates,” said Memphis head coach Kevin Robinson.
Memphis comes into this weekend’s meet on the heels of a strong performance at last week’s SEMO Inivte; 11 Tiger athletes won their events in Cape Girardeau, last weekend.
Principle among that group was junior pole vaulting All-American Karlis Pujats. The Riga, Latvia, native won his first outdoor pole vault of 2011 with a 5.06m (16’ 7.25”) mark; after just one event, Pujats is second in C-USA. Though far below Pujats’ all-time best, the mark is still 20th-highest in the East Region this season.
“Karlis is capable of putting up a big mark at any time,” said Robinson. “The unfortunate news is that this weekend, the wind is supposed to get up to 45 miles per hour in Oxford, and that would blow him all over the place.”
Pujats is joined at the top of the C-USA leaderboard by junior hurdler Robert Jackson. Jackson leads Conference USA in the 110m hurdles by nearly four-tenths of a second, and his season-best mark of 14.02 is three-tenths of a second behind his all-time best of 13.72 and just over a half-second behind Daniel Kiss’ school-record of 13.49. Overall, Jackson is 19th in the nation and fourth in the East Region in the 110m hurdles this season.
The hurdles have been a strong point for the Tigers on the track this season. Seniors Richard Lowe (52.24) and Nick Harold (53.01) are second and third in the conference, respectively, in the 400m hurdles. Lowe is the owner of the 16th-fastest mark in the East Region to this point.
Lowe will have to go it alone this weekend, as Harold will be one of a number of Tigers, including freshman sprinter Jaz Davis. Senior thrower Knut Syversen, who is still recovering from indoor season, will also not compete.
“We’re a little banged up going into this weekend,” conceded Robinson. “We’re going to use it as an opportunity to rest a few people for the stretch run.”
The women’s squad also has a shining star in the hurdles; senior Tayanna Simpson is fourth in the conference in the 400m event, and will look to become the first Tiger female to break the one-minute mark in the event.
Even minus Syversen, the throwers are making their marks in the conference. Sophomore Savvas Arestis still leads C-USA in the discus on the strength of his 54.46m (178-08) throw at the Rhodes Opener, three weeks ago. Arestis’ mark is 26th in the nation and 10th in the East Region three weeks into the season.
Senior Marina Vojinovic is second in the conference in the shot put, with a 15.41m (50’ 6.75”) toss, two weeks ago, at the LSU Relays.
The Tigers also have received a significant mark from senior jumper Jerome Leslie. Leslie, who qualified for the NCAA East Regional in the high jump last season, is tied for 18th in the country in the triple jump this year with a 15.36m (50’ 4.75”) mark at last week’s SEMO Invite.
“Jerome’s a kid who looks to have put it all together,” Robinson said. “Earlier in his career he was just injured all the time. Now he’s fit, he’s hungry, and it looks like he has a chance to be competitive regionally not only in the high jump but the triple, as well.”
The Tiger track and field squad will travel to Auburn, next weekend, for the War Eagle Invite.