Tiger track prepares for SIU McDonald's
Feb. 3, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Memphis track and field will compete, this weekend, at the McDonald's Invite, hosted by Southern Illinois, in what will be its final two-day tune-up before the Conference USA Indoor Track and Field Championships, Feb. 25-26. With only two one-day meets remaining after this weekend, the Tigers will use their time in Carbondale to assess their current conditioning and make the adjustments necessary to be competitive in Houston at the end of the month.
"I expect our men's squad to be in a position to win this weekend," said head coach Kevin Robinson. "I'm cautiously optimistic that this meet will be a winning experience for us."
Last season's McDonald's Invite was a turning point in the Tiger season, with Memphis gaining 24 season-bests en route to runner-up team finishes for both the men and the women's squads.
This season's meet will feature men's and women's squads from Central Arkansas, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, SIU-Edwardsville and host Southern Illinois, as well as the Murray State women's squad. Iowa Central Community College, whose women's squad won the 2010 Indoor Community College Championships, will also compete.
Several returning Tigers set personal-bests at last year's meet. Jumper Darrell Lewis set his career best mark of 6.60m in the long jump, while sprinter Vivian Haynes' best 400m dash clocked in at 60.92 seconds. Louisa Lingley's best 3000m run came at SIU last season, where she ran an 11:01.38 race.
In the 2009 meet, senior sprinter Darius Anderson recorded his personal-best in the 60m dash with a 7.61 mark.
This season, the Tiger men's squad is primed to make a run for a conference title. Coach Robinson believes that the assembled men's group is one of the best he's had, top to bottom, and that this weekend's meet will provide an indication as to whether or not this team can go all the way.
All eyes will certainly be on a couple of Memphis athletes whenever they compete. Sophomore pole vaulter and current C-USA Indoor Male Athlete of the Week Karlis Pujats shattered the school record last week at the McCravy Memorial with a 5.36m (17' 7") height. Pujats currently sits fourth nationally in the pole vault and will use his final four indoor meets to attempt to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
He could be joined there by senior thrower Knut Syversen, who ranks 26th nationally with his 19.55m (64' 1.75") weight throw at the ASU Kick-off Klassic back in December. Syversen will need to clear at least 68 feet to feel comfortable about making the field at the NCAA Indoor's.
Several Tiger athletes will attempt to improve their standing in their respective disciplines. Both men's relay squads rank third in C-USA, while Syversen (2nd) and sophomore Andrew Miller (3rd) are both contenders in the shot put.
The women's squad is expecting a strong weekend from its throwers, including redshirt freshman Britta Jaarats (shot put) and true frosh Anna Bischof (shot put) and Cyarra Wells (weight throw), all of whom are top-five in their respective disciplines in Conference USA's current rankings.
The competition is scheduled to kick off, Friday, at 4 p.m. with women's weight throw and pole vault, along with men's long jump. Men's weight throw and pole vault, as well as women's long jump, will also be contested on Friday.
Saturday, the remainder of the field events (shot put, triple jump, and high jump) will begin the days competition at 10 a.m.; the track events are currently scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m.
Two Tiger track and field athletes are currently in the top-50 nationally in their respective disciplines. Syversen is 26th in the weight throw, after the 19.55m (64' 1.75") throw he made at the ASU Kick-off Klassic. Sophomore Karlis Pujats furthered his aspirations for an NCAA Championships berth at the Rod McCravy Memorial with his school-record 5.36m (17' 7") height.
Nineteen Tigers currently have top-five rankings within Conference USA, a contingent that is currently reliant on many freshmen. Of the 19, seven are first-year competitors for the Tigers, including Britta Jaarats, who is currently second in the shot put, and Darius Lynwood, who's tied for third in the conference in the high jump.
Pujats (pole vault) and junior Robert Jackson (60m hurdles) lead C-USA in their respective disciplines entering this weekend's competitions.
Track on the Web
For all the latest in Tigers track and field, be sure to log on to gotigersgo.com, or check out the official Memphis Tigers Track and Field page on Facebook.