March 10, 2011 at 9:40 PM CST - Updated June 23 at 2:27 PM
TROY, Ala. - The Troy University track and field program opens the 2011 outdoor season this weekend at the Southern Invitational, hosted by Birmingham-Southern College.
The women are in the midst of making the transition from the indoor season to the outdoor season, as the scored in numerous events at the Sun Belt Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships just two weeks ago. However, this is a week in which they will make a transition, with some - if not most - of the student-athletes competing in events they will not likely compete in at the end of the season.
Sophomore Ja-Courtney Alexander, and fellow sophomore Veronica Bryant, return from an exciting outdoor season in 2010. Alexander was named the Freshman of the Year in the conference last year as she finished as the silver medalist in the 400-meters and was part of the conference champion 4x400-meter relay team. Meanwhile, Bryant also enters her second season on the track for the Trojans, looking to defend her high jump conference championship from a season ago.
Also returning for another season for the Trojans are junior Ariel Cavazos, a member of the 4x400-meter relay conference champions; as is Naquita Rowe, one of the best hurdlers in the conference over the last two seasons.
Meanwhile, on the men's side, the Trojans will be entering their first competition of the season as they do not compete as a team during the indoor season.
Returnees for the men this year include Stanley Arukwe - an alternate for the Sun Belt Conference champion 4x100-meter relay team - who qualified for the East Region in the 100-meters, 200-meters and 4x100-meter relay. Also coming back for the Trojans this season are Payton McGhee and Antonio McLeod - both members of the 4x100-meter relay team. McLeod also saved his best for last in his junior season, as he ran a personal best 10.34 seconds in the 100-meters at the East Region last season.
"The younger athletes will definitely look to their strengths," Troy University Directodr of Track and Field/Cross Country Jill Lancaster said. "They will look to those strengths to try and make a presence immediately."
Away from the track, in field events, the attention will be turned toward the javelin as Matt Braswell and Mackenzie Howell - two of the best throwers in recent memory at Troy - will do battle once again. Both throwers are among the elite at the school, with Braswell holding the school record. Then the Trojans went out and signed one of the best junior college throwers in the nation in Martin Pildavs, to make the competition that much tougher.
Meanwhile, Cody Bahrke will look to improve on his freshman campaign in the discus, shot put and hammer; along with teammate Eddy Lynn.
"We expect big things from our long throws group," Troy assistant coach Chip Brundage said. "They have have been very patiently waiting their opportunity to throw outdoors."
The weekend's meet will be about experience for the Trojans, as the team comes off Spring Break.
The Trojans will be competing against teams from UAB, Samford, Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Birmingham-Southern, Jacksonville State and Alabama.
The Southern Invitational kicks off at 10 am Saturday starting with the field events and will conclude that afternoon with the track events.
Results will be posted once they become available from Birmingham-Southern.