Track ready for SEC Championships
May 9, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Vanderbilt track and field team will head to Baton Rouge, La., for the 2012 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which begin on Thursday, May 10, at LSU's Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
Most of the action for the Commodores will take place on Saturday, May 12, with the prelims and finals for the high jump and pole vault, the steeplechase, and prelims for the 1,500 meters. Sunday's action will include the finals in the 1,500 and 5,000.
Head Coach Steve Keith expects strong showings from the Commodores to begin with the jumpers in the pole vault and high jump. Ellie Tidman and Brionne Williams will compete in the high jump, with Meagan Martin and Morgan Toone in the pole vault.
"All four of our jumpers have their best meets waiting for them," Keith said, knowing that if they can bring consistency, they will have a chance at scoring team points for Vanderbilt.
Williams and Tidman are both sophomores with marks this season that put each of them in the top-40 nationally. Williams' best mark was 1.78m (five feet, 10 inches) at Georgia Tech's Yellow Jacket Invitational at the end of March, while Tidman cleared 1.77m (five feet, 9.75 inches) at William & Mary's Colonial Relays.
In the pole vault, Meagan Martin will head to her final SEC Championships with a season-best mark of 3.91m (12 feet, 10 inches), while Morgan Toone is right behind her with a top mark of 3.90m (12 feet, 9.5 inches). Both rank in the top-100 in the nation.
The pole vault and high jump both compete on Saturday, starting at 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., respectively. They will both occur during the ESPN3.com broadcast, which begins at 4:30 p.m. that afternoon.
As for the runners, Keith expects Kristen Findley to be one of the top performers in the 1,500 meters. The junior set a school record in the event at the Vanderbilt Invitational, clocking a time of 4:17.45, which ranks 21st in the nation. The adjustment for Findley will be running against some of the best competition in the country.
"She's learning how to run championship-style races, which are usually slow-to-fast, so her training has been geared towards that," Keith said. "It's still a little new to her and she's a little lacking in championship experience, but she's got a good engine."
The prelims in the 1,500 begin at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, with finals at 3:20 p.m. on Sunday. The finals will take place following the start of ESPN3.com's live coverage, which begins on the final day at 3:00 p.m.
In the 5,000 meters, look for Vanderbilt's Kristin Smith and Alexa Rogers to possibly score points. Both are among the top-100 in the nation. Smith's best time was a 16:21.22 mark at the Colonial Relays, while Rogers posted a 16:26.46 at the Vanderbilt Invitational. Keith is also anxious to see how freshman Grace Orders does in her first SEC Outdoor Championship.
The 5,000 will be run on Sunday at 5:40 p.m., also during the live ESPN3.com broadcast.
Keith knows having a young squad going up against some of the best competition in the country could be quite an experience.
"We've got some youngsters that are going strictly to have their eyes opened," Keith said. "What better way to get your feet wet then by going to SEC's? Some of them saw (the high competition level) at the indoor meet and still ran personal bests, so we're looking for more of that."
While the highest possible team score is still the goal, Keith knows it's not necessarily about the results at the Championships, but continuing to build the program.
"For our new, young program, it is a big measuring tool for us at the end of the season," Keith explained. "For our young kids, it's not just asking how many events we can score in, but if we can score in multiple places and use that as a building block for the future."
The 2012 SEC Outdoor Track Championships will air live on ESPN3.com on Saturday, May 12, (4:30-7:15 p.m.) and Sunday, May 13 (3-7:00 p.m.). In addition, ESPNU will air a highlight show on Wednesday, May 23, from 7-9:00 p.m.
Live results and other meet information are available at: www.lsusports.net/secoutdoors. Note all listed start times are Central.
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