For the ninth time overall — and first since 2000 — LSU will host the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Bernie Moore Track Stadium this weekend.
The meet, which will feature seven men’s teams and five women’s teams in the top 25 of the latest U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s power rankings, will be held Thursday through Sunday.
The championships’ four-day run begins Thursday with the first day of the multi-events: the 10-event men’s decathlon and the women’s heptathlon, which is made up of seven events.
The heptathlon gets under way at 3 p.m. with the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200 meters. The 12 competitors will be followed at 3:30 p.m. with eight athletes participating in the decathlon, whose first-day schedule includes the 100, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400.
The competition resumes Friday with the final five events in the decathlon starting at 2 p.m., while the women finish up the heptathlon with three events beginning at 2:15 p.m.
Also on Friday’s schedule are finals in the men’s and women’s hammer and 10,000 meters as well as preliminaries in the men’s and women’s 200, 800 and 400 hurdles.
Nine finals and more prelims are on Saturday’s schedule before the meet concludes with 27 finals and crowning of the team champions Sunday.
The second-ranked LSU women have won the past two titles and four of the past five, while Arkansas is the defending champion on the men’s side.
The ranked teams in the men’s division are top-ranked Florida, Arkansas (sixth), LSU (ninth), Ole Miss (11th), Mississippi State (12th), Auburn (13th) and Georgia (19th).
Florida claimed its second straight NCAA indoor title in March.
Ranked teams joining No. 2 LSU on the women’s side are Florida (fourth), Arkansas (11th), Tennessee (19th) and Georgia (21st).
The decathlon field will be without one of the SEC’s top all-time performers in Florida’s Gray Horn, who was trying to become the first four-time decathlon champion in league history.
Horn, who is also a two-time SEC indoor heptathlon champion, was suspended indefinitely by coach Mike Holloway for breaking team rules and did not accompany the Gators to Baton Rouge on Tuesday.
LSU has no decathletes entered, but freshmen Alex Gochenhour and Kaitlyn Moreau will line up in the heptathlon. Gochenhour was the No. 1-ranked recruit in the nation for the Class of 2011 and was the champion at the 2010 USA Junior Championships.
Four SEC athletes who lead the nation in their respective events will compete this weekend.
The group is headed by LSU’s Kimberlyn Duncan, who leads the nation in the 100, 200 and anchors the Lady Tigers’ 4x100-meter relay team that has posted the fastest time in the country this spring.
Other national leaders are Ole Miss’ Ricky Robertson (high jump) and Arkansas’ Andrew Irwin (pole vault) on the men’s side, and Arkansas’ Tina Sutej (pole vault) on the women’s.
Jeff Demps, a Florida football standout who has the fastest time in the 100 this spring, will not compete this weekend because of a mild hamstring problem.
The Auburn men’s 4x100 relay unit also leads the nation.
There is no admission charge for the first day of the meet Thursday.
All-session tickets for Friday through Sunday are $20 for adults and $10 for youths, while single-day tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youths and will be available at http://www.LSUsports.net/ and each day at the Bernie Moore ticket booth.