Trojans hit road for FSU relays

TROY, Al. After two weeks of preparation in season-opening meets around the Southeast, the Troy University track and field teams will step up the competition this week as they head to the FSU Relays beginning on Wednesday.

The Trojans will face a field that features the host team Florida State, and other perennial powers in the sport in Michigan, South Florida and Air Force; as well as Sun Belt Conference foe South Alabama. The field will also feature NAIA power Embry-Riddle and NCAA Division II foe West Florida.

"We have been training really hard," Troy University Director of Track and Field/Cross Country, Jill Lancaster said. "We have been training hard, not just this week, but in the weeks leading up to this meet. Our student-athletes know that this is usually the time of year where we really start performing well, and they know history has a way of repeating itself. We are looking to our men's sprints and throwers to have a big weekend this weekend, and this could be a defining moment for some of our athletes – both male and female."

The meet begins on Wednesday afternoon with the decathlon and heptathlon events. Grant Bullington (decathlon) and Veronica Bryant (heptathlon) will be competing on the opening day of the meet. For both student-athletes it is the first time either will be in competition in the multi-events this season; however, Bullington was one of the competitors thought to challenge at the Sun Belt Conference Championships last season before illness kept him out.

The two multi-events will wrap up on Thursday, just as the throwing events will begin on Thursday afternoon. The Trojans' throwers on Thursday will include Eddy Lynn, winner of the event at last week's Morehouse College Relays, and Caleb Osbourne for the men; while the women will send Ashley Evans, Brynn Forsythe, Nicole Studstill, Erin Walker and Karen Wyatt.

The meet really begins in earnest on Friday with field and running events. The first event of the day will be the open men's and women's hammer throw beginning at 9 am, and running through the last event of the day, the women's 10,000-meter run featuring the Paulson twins (Allison and Morgan) at 9:25 pm.

Unlike this meet, most of the events that the Trojans will be competing in will be the events that the student-athletes are expected to compete in for much of the season. One of the first events to watch on tap for Friday is the men's javelin in which Martins Pildavs, who at one point held the longest throw in the country, will be featured. He has the second-longest mark in the country and in the Sun Belt Conference this season at 73.32 meters. Pildavs will be joined by Matt Braswell, former record holder at Troy as a freshman last season, and Mackenzie Howell, in the top five in the event at the school, in the competition.

Also on Friday, Terrell Irons will make his debut in the pits. Irons was one of the leaders in the jumps for the Trojans and has not competed yet this season. He will hit his first competition at 4 pm on Friday in the long jump.

On the track at noon, both the men and women's 4x100-meter relay team will head into competition. The women will send out Ariel Cavazos, Ja-Courtney Alexander (the reigning Sun Belt Conference Female Track Athlete of the Week), Adria Hill, Ashley Hall and Tamara Curtis; while the men – the reigning Sun Belt Conference champions and the third-fastest time in the country at this point – will send out Neko Freeman, Antonio McLeod, Payton McGhee and Stanley Arukwe. The team has posted two of the fastest times in the country this week in back-to-back competitions.

The running events continue throughout the day and into the night for the Trojans, with Alexander and Arukwe both hitting the track in the 400-meters beginning at 2:20 pm. The distance events will conclude the first full day of competition as Sylvia Chirchir, Agnes Kapsoiyo and Enock Kirui joining the Paulson twins in competition.

The meet will conclude on Saturday, beginning in the morning with the throws and Lynn in the discus.

The events will run through 4 pm in the field events, with the running events picking up at 12 noon with the 200-meter run for the women featuring Alexander and Hall. The 200-meter event for the men will run at 12:30 pm with Arukwe, McGhee, McLeod and Caleb Tarver running in the event.

The Trojans will send out one of the fastest 100-meter fields for both the men and women this weekend, with Alexander, Cavazos and Hall going for the women at 3:20 pm. They will be followed by the men at 3:55 pm; headlined by Neko Freeman with one of the best times in the country this year, running 10.40 seconds. He will be joined by McGhee and McLeod in the competition.

The meet concludes with the 4x400-meter relay teams on the track at 4:50 and 5:10, before the teams hit the road back to Troy.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Troy University Athletics