The LSU track and field teams will officially join the national championship chase this weekend as they make the trip to E.C. Billy Hayes Track at Indiana University to compete with an eye on qualifying for the national semifinals at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds.
Indiana’s Hayes Track will serve as one of two host sites for the NCAA Preliminary Rounds this weekend as the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds will be held at Oregon’s Hayward Field in Eugene.
The NCAA Selection Committee accepted the top 48 performers in each individual event and the top 24 relay teams in both relays to compete at each site hosting the NCAA Preliminary Rounds for a total of 96 individuals and 48 relays competing in all events nationwide with the goal of advancing to the semifinals.
LSU has qualified a total of 61 entries into the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds between the teams, which includes 31 entries for the women and 30 entries for the men.
When competing in the NCAA Preliminary Rounds, the top 12 finishers in each open and relay event will qualify for the national semifinal and final rounds of the 2011 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships to be held at Drake Stadium at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, from June 8-11.
“Our student-athletes understand that they work and prepare the entire season to get to this point. We now compete for a national championship starting this weekend,” said LSU head coach Dennis Shaver. “There will be seven days of the NCAA Championships held over the next two weeks or so. This weekend marks the first three days of the meet, so it’s important that we give ourselves the best opportunity to contend for the national championship when we move on to Drake in two weeks.
“It’s time for our athletes to do what they need to do to give us that opportunity. If you do not finish in the top 12 this weekend, you do not advance. It’s as simple as that. We need to be ready from Day 1.”
Both the Tigers and Lady Tigers are among the national championship contenders this year as the women are ranked No. 2 and the men are ranked No. 4 in this week’s national power ranking released Tuesday by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
The Lady Tigers most recently completed the season sweep of Southeastern Conference championships at Georgia’s Spec Towns Track with a win at the 2011 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
With the win, the Lady Tigers captured their 12th SEC Outdoor title all-time and their 24th conference title in program history between the indoor and outdoor seasons. They also swept conference titles for the first time since the 2008 season after winning both SEC Indoor and SEC Outdoor championships in 2011.
Indiana University will provide live results and a live video stream at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds on its official athletics website at iuhoosiers.cstv.com. The live stream will be available beginning at 2:30 p.m. CDT on Thursday, 3:30 p.m. on Friday and 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Fans can also follow up-to-the-minute and behind-the-scenes coverage of the Tigers and Lady Tigers with at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds by becoming a fan of the official LSU Track & Field on Facebook and by following @LSUTrackField on Twitter. Fans are invited to join in the conversation on Twitter this weekend by using the hashtag #NCAAD1E in their tweets during the championship.