Southern vies for cross country, women’s tennis titles

Southern University will make the short trip to New Orleans this weekend in search of Southwestern Athletic Conference championships in men’s and women’s track and field as well as women’s tennis.

The Southern tennis team enters as the women’s No. 1 seed as the Jaguars shoot for their fourth SWAC title in a row. Following a first-round bye, Southern opens action at City Park at 9 a.m. Saturday against the winner of a matchup Friday of Alabama State and Prairie View.

The track and field championships get underway at 8 a.m. Friday at Tad Gormley Stadium.

Southern track coach Brian Johnson said the Jaguars have the talent to contend for a title in both the men’s and women’s divisions.

“We’re chasing a championship,” Johnson said. “We’ve just got to put it together.”

Southern tennis was led during the regular season by SWAC player of the year Demetria Woods, but coach Jeff Conyers said the senior standout will not compete this weekend because of health issues not related to tennis. No. 2 player Gabrielle Moore will move into the No. 1 spot, and Morgan Taylor will move into the singles lineup at the No. 6 spot.

With their top player sidelined, Conyers said he expects the Jaguars to come together.

“This was going to be an opportunity for her to win her fourth championship,” Conyers said of Woods, who went 6-1 this season. “It weighs heavy on her that she can’t compete.”

Southern dominated the All-SWAC team in women’s tennis, claiming all six spots on the first team. No. 3 player Danielle Dixon was named the conference’s freshman of the year.

In track and field, Southern has Dwayne Houston and Kashmia Weary to help lead the way.

Houston took Top Field Performer honors at the SWAC indoor meet after winning the shot put and weight throw. Weary did the same in the women’s division thanks to a second-place showing in the weight throw and a third-place finish in the shot put.

On the men’s side, Grambling will be going for its fifth straight title in outdoor track and field.

Alabama State won the women’s outdoor meet going away last year, finishing with 243 points — 77 more than second-place Prairie View. Then, the Hornets won the women’s indoor meet this winter, taking indoor honors for the fourth year in a row.

The Southern men placed third in the outdoor meet last year. The women finished sixth.