15 Olympians in field for LSU Alumni Gold meet

Associated Press file photo by Marcio Jose SanchezFormer LSU hurdler Lolo Jones practices before the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in June. Jones is schedule to compete at the LSU Alumni Gold meet on Saturday. Show caption
Associated Press file photo by Marcio Jose SanchezFormer LSU hurdler Lolo Jones practices before the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in June. Jones is schedule to compete at the LSU Alumni Gold meet on Saturday.

While the LSU Alumni Gold meet annually features some of the school’s top track and field athletes — both past and present — the Tigers and Lady Tigers will have a little extra company Saturday.

Fifteen Olympians, including 14 from the 2012 London Games, are expected to be on hand for the Alumni Gold, which begins with the field events at 9 a.m. and the track events at 1:30 p.m. in Bernie Moore Track Stadium.

The group is headed up by Aries Merritt, a former Tennessee star who claimed the gold medal for the USA in the 110-meter hurdles in London, and former LSU hurdler Lolo Jones, a two-time Olympian who will be making her outdoor debut in the 100 hurdles.

Merritt won the gold in 12.92 seconds before breaking the world record with a time of 12.80 seconds in a Diamond League meet in Brussels, Belgium shortly after the Olympics.

Host LSU will be joined by 15 collegiate teams — including Texas A&M, Houston, Illinois, Alabama, Minnesota,
Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, Tulane and Southern Miss.

The goal for the fourth-ranked Lady Tigers and No. 10 Tigers, coach Dennis Shaver said, is to improve some more after a strong showing in dominating the field in the Battle on the Bayou last week.

LSU won both team titles for the second year in a row, winning 12 individual events and all four relays, and Shaver wants to see more in the last “team” competition of the regular season before the Penn Relays next week.

“We’re just trying to get a little bit better as a team on both the men’s and women’s sides,” Shaver said. “We’re going to focus on some athletes who, so far this season, haven’t had a great opportunity because of nagging injuries or weather problems.

“We want some of them to get some things done that they’re capable of doing,” he said. “The Penn Relays don’t really give us an opportunity to do that. We’re also hoping for better marks in the field events, particularly the jumps, if the weather allows us to do that.”

Two events Shaver is eager to see are the men’s and women’s 4x100-meter relay, where he will tinker with the regular order with the goal of building some depth for the upcoming championship season.

“We want to improve some of our marks to draw some respectable heats for the SEC Championships and try to get a little better if we have a weakness in a particular event.”

The meet will also include a special Senior Recognition ceremony for members of Shaver’s teams who’ll be competing for the final time in an LSU uniform in Bernie Moore Stadium.

Among them are All-Americans Kimberlyn Duncan and Charlene Lipsey, who have been four-year stars for the Lady Tigers, as well as Damar Forbes and Caleb Williams on the men’s side.

“For all of our seniors, this is a special time for them,” Shaver said.

Among the LSU alumni competing are Richard Thompson, who has won three Olympic medals for his native Trinidad & Tobago, and Ade Alleyne-Forte, a member of the Trinidadian team that took the bronze in the 4x400 relay last summer.

Texas A&M’s Deon Lendore, who will also run for the Aggies on Saturday, was a teammate of Alleyne-Forte’s on the 4x400 team.

“I really look forward to this meet every year,” Shaver said. “We get a lot of alumni to come back and interact with the current team members and we have a little more spice to it this year with Aries Merritt here.

“With him, this may be the first time we’ve ever had the USA gold medalist from the previous Olympics and the world record holder running at Bernie Moore. So it should be a lot of fun.”