Track and Field Squads Primed for Conference USA Championships
May 11, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The University of Memphis track and field team will hit the road for Houston, Texas and the 2011 Conference USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, beginning Wednesday and continuing through Sunday at Holloway Field and Ley Track on the campus of Rice University.
At February’s Indoor championships, the men’s squad placed third, behind Houston and Tulsa. The women’s squad tied for ninth with Tulane. Head coach Kevin Robinson thinks this squad is poised to make a leap up the standings at the outdoor championships.
“I’ve said all year that we’re a better outdoor team,” Robinson maintained. “With the ability to train more outside during the spring, we do much better during outdoor season.”
The men’s squad has several athletes primed to improve on last season’s outdoor title or build off the momentum of 2011’s indoor victory. Defending C-USA 110m hurdles champion Robert Jackson will try to make it three straight conference titles in the event; he leads the conference in the event by nearly four-tenths of a second this season.
Senior Richard Lowe was runner-up in the 400m hurdles at last year’s Outdoor championships to Houston’s Jason Perez. He’s second in the conference heading into this year’s championships, nearly three-tenths of a second ahead of Perez and only 0.14 behind East Carolina senior Mario Briscoe. Briscoe hasn’t finished ahead of Lowe in the 400 hurdles at the C-USA Championships since 2008.
Seniors Darius Anderson and Nick Harold, along with freshman Brandon Williams, complement Lowe and Jackson in what is the deepest hurdles group the U of M has trotted out in some time. All five could earn All-Conference distinction this weekend.
Senior Tayanna Simpson could wind up All-Conference in both the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles on the women’s side. She’s set Memphis records in both events this year. Senior sprinter LaShundra Kershaw is looking to get back to the NCAA East Regional for the second year in a row (currently, she’s 31st in the 100m dash and 19th in the 200m dash). She’s eighth in the 100 and sixth in the 200 among Conference USA sprinters.
Senior middle distance runner Guy Hudson, who was all-conference in the 800m run last year, is sixth in the conference entering this year’s Outdoor championships.
Junior pole vaulter Karlis Pujats earned his first C-USA pole vaulting championship at the 2011 Indoor meet and looks to make it back-to-back titles this season. He and teammate Austin Crenshaw are tied for second in the conference at 5.14m (16’ 10.25”) heading into the championships.
Crenshaw will look to repeat his all-conference performance in the heptathlon at the 2011 Indoor championships; this decathlon (which is the men’s multi-event competed in during the Outdoor championships) will mark Crenshaw’s first-ever attempt at the 10-event multi on the collegiate level.
Senior Desiree’ Blow will give it one more try in the women’s seven-event heptathlon after being agonizingly close to all-conference honors at the past two Outdoor championships (10th in 2010, ninth in 2009).
In women’s pole vault action, junior Janelle Mason is vying for her first all-conference bid (she sits at seventh heading into the weekend), while sophomore Alyssa Northcutt will try to repeat her all-conference bid of 2010. She sits ninth entering the championships, two inches behind the eighth-place competitor.
Senior jumper Jerome Leslie will be trying to pull off a rarely-seen feat at the championships; if Leslie can finish top-eight in the high jump and the triple jump, it will be the third championship in a row (2011 Indoor, 2010 Outdoor) in which the Plainsboro, New Jersey native has been all-conference in both events. Currently, Leslie is third in the triple jump and eighth in the high jump among C-USA athletes.
Freshman Darius Lynwood is also a threat in the high jump, where he currently sits tied for third with three other competitors.
In the women’s high jump, sophomore Kirsten Berding will look to make it three consecutive conference championship meets where she’s come away with all-conference honors (eighth in 2010 Outdoor, tied for seventh in 2011 Indoor); currently, she’s seventh in the conference.
The throwers, a long-standing bastion of the Tiger track and field program, are once again a deep group. As many as three athletes could earn All-Conference honors in the shot put and discus throw, with sophomore Savvas Arestis a favorite to win the discus.
Sophomore transfer Casey Carl, who was the Mid-South Conference javelin champion last season, will vie for his first All C-USA spot, Sunday. Carl is currently seventh in C-USA in the javelin.
Following the 2011 Conference USA Outdoor Championships, select U of M athletes will travel to Arizona to compete in the Elite Throws Meet, hosted by the University of Arizona, next weekend in hopes of qualifying for the NCAA East Regional, May 27-28, in Bloomington, Indiana.