March 29, 2007
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
Following a week off from competition, the University of Louisville track and field program will return to action in a big way this weekend as the Cards will have athletes competing at three national level meets around the nation, including the Missouri Relays, the Stanford Invitational and the LSU Tiger Classic.
U of L will send most of its distance runners and throwers to the Missouri Relays on Friday and Saturday in Columbia, Mo., site of the NCAA Mideast Regional in May, while the Cardinal jumpers and sprinters will travel to Baton Rouge, La., for Saturday's Tiger Classic. The Cards will also have three distance runners competing Friday and Saturday at the Stanford Invitational in Stanford, Calif.
"As we embark on our outdoor schedule, our goal was to create enough competitive opportunities for all of our student-athletes to reach their full potential and this week, that meant competing at three different meets around the nation," said U of L head coach Ron Mann. "We know it's not the most ideal situation for our fans, but our home meet on April 21 (Cardinal Invitational) will be our primary chance to showcase our team to our fans and we feel it's important to have a product on the track that is worthy of our fan base."
This weekend will include the first outdoor competition of the season for some of the Cardinal athletes, including 2007 NCAA indoor champions Tone Belt and Andre Black. This weekend will also feature great regional and national competition for the Cardinal athletes at all three meets.
"I know Tone and Andre are ready to open their outdoor season at LSU and we've had a number of athletes who have been practicing very well this week," Mann said. "Brandon Cook and Arthur Turland have looked great this week, and Steven Hnat and ZeNai Savage also had a good week of practice. For all of our throwers, the meet at Missouri should be very beneficial because they'll be able to gain competition experience in the same facility that will host the NCAA Mideast Regional later this season.
"As for the meet at Stanford, year-in and year-out, I would guess about one-third of the regional qualifiers in the 5,000-meter run come from that meet and with so few opportunities to earn a top level time each season, we felt it would be very good for Wesley Korir, Cory Thorne and Soimo Kiplagat to make that trip out west."
And with so many athletes competing this weekend against some of the nation's top competition, the Cardinal coaches expect to add to the list of nine regional qualifiers earned at the season-opening Baldy Castillo Invitational on March 16-17 in Tempe, Ariz.
"We're focused on earning as many regional and national qualifiers as we possibly can over the next six weeks," Mann said. "And I think it's safe to say we'll have more regional qualifiers this year than last year."
Following this week's events, the Cards are scheduled to have athletes competing at the prestigious Texas Relays on April 4-7 in Austin, Texas, and the Indiana Relays on April 6-7 in Bloomington, Ind.