@LATechTandF Begins Conference USA Championships Thursday
May 13, 2015
EL PASO, Texas - Louisiana Tech begins postseason competition Thursday as the men's and women's track and field teams head to El Paso, Texas for the 2015 Conference USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
The four-day meet begins an outdoor postseason schedule that extends into the middle of the June culminating with the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. But first LA Tech athletes will go for gold in West Texas in a meet where the women are hoping to match or exceed expectations while the men want to surprise the field.
According to a tally of the league's performance list heading into the championship meet, LA Tech's women are projected to finish second to UTEP by scoring 92.5 points, nine points ahead of Western Kentucky's 83.5 points. The women's team competition is expected to be tense as less than 20 points on the projected order of finish separate teams four through seven and includes a cluster of schools with Rice, UTSA, Charlotte and Middle Tennessee projected to finish close together.
The men's side is also expected to be close among the second through fourth schools with UTEP, Western Kentucky and Rice separated by a projected 13.5 points. However the Bulldogs are projected to score 42 points and finish in a tie for eighth with Southern Miss with Charlotte projected seventh and scoring 42.5 points.
If the Bulldogs are to leapfrog several teams, they will have to create several upsets throughout the four-day meet with a strong finish in Sunday's finals. The men will also need to have a major upset to extend its 200m streak. A Louisiana Tech student-athlete has won gold in the 200m at an outdoor conference championship event each of the last nine years, a streak that dates back to 2006. But this year's C-USA performance list has the highest-ranked Bulldog (Darius Statham) at 16th in the league.
Jermey Hicks is ranked 18th in C-USA in the 200m but enters this week ranked first in the conference and 33rd in the nation in the 100m dash with a time of 10.31, a mark that ranks seventh in school history. Hicks, a sophomore from New Orleans, also runs on the 4x100m relay that is ranked second in the league with a time of 39.94, less than 0.2 seconds behind the league-leader Western Kentucky.
Jarrett Samuels enters the week ranked in a tie for the league lead in the long jump with Rice's Scott Filip as both have equally hit marks of 24-6.5 (7.48m) this year. Saturday's long jump competition could end up being a battle between the two. A potential dark horse in the event, Louisiana Tech's Jarvis Gotch, has been hampered by an injury throughout the outdoor season and has only hit one mark in the event but was one of the world's best long jumpers during the indoor season. A single big jump by Gotch could tip the scales in the Bulldogs' favor.
The long jump on the women's side should be one to watch for Tech fans as the Lady Techsters sport five of the league's top eight jumpers. Charla Craddock is ranked second in the league with a mark of 20-3.5 (6.18m), just three inches behind FIU's Phillicia Fluellen, while Tech's Mia Adams follows Craddock by less than two inches.
LA Tech is projected to score 20 points in the women's long jump but could score as many as 33 points if Lady Techsters finish in the top five spots. That positive swing would push Tech up over the 100 point mark in the team scores.
Craddock is expected to be an impact performer in more than just the long jump. Her time of 23.41 ranks atop the league in the 200m by a large margin - bettering UTEP's Aiyanna Stiverne by over 0.3 seconds - and she is a key component to both of Tech's 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams, both of which are currently atop C-USA's performance list. A native of Farmersville, Texas, Craddock could win multiple gold medals in her home state as the senior enters her final conference championship meet.
The multiple entry story of Craddock is not the only one on LA Tech's women's team as Mia Adams is ranked third in the league in the 100m and the long jump while Marlesia Carey is sixth in both the 100m hurdles and the long jump. Adams is in her second season at Louisiana Tech after transferring from Georgia State and spent most of the season at the top of LA Tech's long jump performance list. The McDonough, Georgia native also runs on the 4x100m relay team that ranks 37th nationally.
C-USA Championship action begins on Thursday with Laticia Watson competing in the heptathlon. Watson set the school record in the indoor counterpart pentathlon during the indoor season and could achieve the same notable achievement when the heptathlon competition concludes Friday. Friday's action also concludes the hammer throw.
The two main days of action will be Saturday and Sunday with field events throughout both days. Most of the running events will run preliminary heats Saturday with the finals races coming Sunday.
Live results for all four days will be available at LATechSports.com.
For complete coverage of Tech Track and Field and Cross Country, please follow @LATechTandF on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.
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