For the first time in 12 years, the Southeastern Conference Track and Field Championships will be held at LSU’s Bernie Moore Track Stadium starting Thursday.
That means local track fans will have a chance to see athletes who year after year make the conference one of the best in the nation up close this time.
With that in mind, here are 10 top athletes — five women and five men (in alphabetical order) — to keep an eye on during the four-day competition:
- Annie Alexander, Tennessee, shot put/discus: The SEC leader in both events, she’s already won six conference titles in her career, with four coming in the shot put and two in the discus.
- Kimberlyn Duncan, LSU, 100/200/4x100 relay: The reigning NCAA champion in the indoor and outdoor 200, she’s posted the nation’s top times in the 100 and 200 and anchors the country’s top 4x100 relay team.
- Semoy Hackett, LSU, 100/200/4x100 relay: One of the country’s top sprinters as well, she is the reigning SEC champion in the 100 and won the Commissioner’s Trophy as the high-point scorer last year after placing second behind Duncan in the 200.
- Charlene Lipsey, LSU, 800/1,500: The SEC indoor champion at 800 meters, who is equally adept as a front-runner and in coming from behind, has the second-fastest time in the country and will try to earn bonus points for her team by stepping up to the 1,500.
- Tina Sutej, Arkansas, pole vault: A two-time NCAA indoor champion, the native of Slovenia holds the collegiate record in both the indoor and outdoor vault and has dominated SEC meets with three indoor and two outdoor titles.
- Andrew Irwin, Arkansas, pole vault: This freshman has established himself as one of the best vaulters in the country with wins at the SEC and NCAA meets, and he has the top performance in the nation this spring at 18 feet, 41/2 inches.
- Tony McQuay, Florida, 400/4x400 relay: A standout quarter-miler who is the reigning USA outdoor national champion as well as in the NCAA indoor 400. He recently ran a 44.03-second split in his team’s 4x400 win at the Drake Relays.
- Marek Niit, Arkansas, 100/200/4x400 relay: A solid short sprinter who can also run on the mile relay, he’s the SEC’s reigning 200 champion indoors and outdoors and was on the 4x400 relay team that won the NCAA title in March.
- Barrett Nugent, LSU, 110 hurdles/4x100 relay: The reigning NCAA champ in the hurdles, he’s going for his third straight SEC outdoor title to go with his 2010 SEC indoor win in the 60 hurdles. He also capably runs the leadoff leg for the Tigers’ 4x100 relay.
- Ricky Robertson, Ole Miss, high jump: While he’ll also compete in the long and triple jumps, his specialty is the high jump. The junior has won every high-jump title he’s competed in at the SEC meets, with three titles indoors and two outdoors.