Nov. 4, 2013
BEAUMONT - The Lamar track and field team, which ranks among the most historic in the Southland Conference, is set to begin yet another season in January as head coach Trey Clark announced the team's indoor and outdoor schedule on Monday.
"I think the schedule this year really gives us a chance to compete at some excellent indoor and outdoor facilities this year," explained Clark, who is in his third decade of involvement with the Lamar track program. "I think that with the way we've set it up this year, it really gives the team a chance to perform well on some big stages."
The Cardinals will begin the indoor season with the first of two meets at Houston, beginning with the Houston Indoor Opener on January 11. LU will then return to Yeoman Fieldhouse later that month for the Howie Ryan Invitational, set to start on January 31.
"It's a short trip for us, and we like going there," Clark said. "It gives us a chance to compete without having to worry too much about how the travel will impact training in preparation for conference later in the year."
The other two meets on the indoor schedule include the Texas A&M 12-Team Invitational on January 17 and the Tyson Invitational on February 14, which is on the campus of the University of Arkansas.
"A&M and Arkansas each have banked 200 meter tracks, which is exactly what we'll have at the conference championships," Clark said. "It really gives a chance for some of our athletes to get some experience on those kinds of tracks early. They're pretty select meets, so we'll be taking smaller groups to both."
Following the trip to Fayetteville, the Cards will get ready for the Southland Indoor Championships, which is scheduled to begin on February 26 in Birmingham, Ala.
"I'm really excited about the conference championships being held in Birmingham this year," Clark revealed. "I think it's a very good thing for the conference and the program. It will let the kids perform their best at a great facility, and that hasn't always been true in the past. Everything we're doing in our schedule is a way of building up to that meet."
The NCAA Indoor Championships will take place in Albuquerque on March 14.
The outdoor season features a number of big meets, including the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on March 26.
"The Texas Relays is one of the biggest meets in the country, and it's obviously very important for colleges and high schools in this state," Clark said. "It's earlier in the season than it used to be, but it's still a good way to test your kids and see where they're at. It definitely gives the team a chance to compete against some of the best in the country."
The Lamar distance program, which brought home a pair of cross country championships last week, will get a chance to show off on the national stage, as a pair of trips to Stanford and the Mt. SAC Relays are also on the slate.
"You really have to the distance kids a chance to qualify for nationals," Clark explained. "It's going to be hard for them to qualify at some of the meets down here, but going out there is a good way to make it happen. A lot of schools in our position need to travel to meets like that, especially since we have a number of distance runners that have a chance at the national meet almost every year."
In addition to the bigger meets, the Cards are also scheduled to compete at Stephen F. Austin Invitational, McNeese Invitational, SLU Invitational and J. Fred Duckett Rice Twilight Meet.
"The staple of every program is the ability to take a short trip, get a quality meet in and get back to work on Monday," Clark said. "In order to continue to progress, you need to be able to compete without having too much of an impact on training. It also significantly enhances the experiences for the athletes."
The Red and White will end the regular part of the season on May 9 when the team sets out for Conway, Ark., to compete at the Southland Outdoor Championships.
"This will probably be the longest we've traveled for a conference meet since we were in a league with Arkansas State," Clark said. "It's really not that big of a deal to go somewhere that far away, and I understand that they have a nice facility. I'm looking forward to going up there for the first time."
NCAA Preliminaries are scheduled for May 29 in Fayetteville, Ark., with the National meet set to begin on June 11 in Eugene, Ore.