Memphis Track and Field Faces Full Field at Auburn Invite
Go Tigers! Jerome Leslie, who was a regional qualifier in the high jump last season, looks to return in 2011 in the triple jump.
Go Tigers!
Jerome Leslie, who was a regional qualifier in the high jump last season, looks to return in 2011 in the triple jump.
Go Tigers!

April 14, 2011

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The University of Memphis track and field team will face a strong field at this weekend’s War Eagle Invitational, hosted by Auburn University.

The meet will feature strong competition from around the eastern half of the country, including Florida State, Georgia, Penn State, South Carolina and Southern Illinois.

For the Tigers men’s squad, two hurdlers will look to improve already-impressive marks, both regionally and in C-USA. Junior Robert Jackson leads C-USA with a 14.02 mark in the 110m hurdles, putting him three-tenths of a second ahead of his next closest competitor. Jackson possesses the East Region’s seventh-highest mark.

He’s countered in the 400m hurdles by senior Richard Lowe. Lowe is also the C-USA leader in his discipline; unlike Jackson, he has the slimmest of leads on Houston’s Jason Perez (52.02 to Perez’s 52.05). The 2010 NCAA Championshps qualifier will look to put some distance between himself and Perez at this weekend’s meet.

Another Tiger senior hurdler, Nick Harold, is third in the 400m event and just below a second behind Lowe and Perez. The Urbana, Ill., native should be well-rested for this weekend’s event after taking last week off from the hurdles.

The Tigers will look for a big day from junior pole vaulter Karlis Pujats. The Riga, Latvia, native was an indoor All-American and is 23rd in the region at 5.06m (16’ 7.25”), far below his personal-best.

The Tigers will look for a big boost from their throwers. Last week, sophomore Andrew Miller won the shot put and will need to continue his improvement. The Tigers also look for a big weekend from sophomore Savvas Arestis, who is 12th in the East and leads C-USA in the discus by nearly 10 feet, but has yet to crack the top-10 in the conference in the shot put.

On the women’s side, three female student-athletes (Seniors LaShundra Kershaw and Marina Vojinovic and sophomore Kirsten Berding) are all in the thick of the race for top marks, both in the region and in the conference. Kershaw is 16th in the East in 100m dash, but her 11.55 mark is behind four others in C-USA. The good news is that Kershaw hasn’t quite matched her personal-best 11.49, so she will most likely continue to post lower marks as the season progresses.

Vojinovic, a 2009 NCAA Regional qualifier, seems poised to return to the regional; her personal-best 15.41m (50’ 6.75”) mark is 19th in the region. She has some distance to close on the conference leading mark, which is currently 16.64m (54’ 7.25”).

Berding is 25th in the East in the high jump at 1.74m (5’ 8.5”), but in a highly-competitive C-USA, her mark is currently seventh-highest. Raising it by an inch would vault her into third in C-USA.

The women’s squad also has a highly-respected hurdler in junior Tayanna Simpson, who set the school record in the 100m hurdles at last week’s Ole Miss Invite with a 13.76 mark, placing her fourth in C-USA. She’s also fourth in the 400m hurdles at 1:00.95, another school record set earlier this season at the Rhodes Open.

On the rise are the middle distance runners; freshmen Nandia Taylor and Jenny Johnston, as well as sophomore Jasmine Darden, all set career-highs in the 800m run at last week’s Ole Miss Invite.

After this weekend’s festivities, the Tigers will split up next weekend, with some traveling to Nashville for the Vanderbilt Invitational, while some will stay more localized for the Mississippi Open, hosted by Ole Miss.



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