NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The Stephen F. Austin men's and women's track and field teams will be in Natchitoches, La., beginning Friday for the opening day of the 2011 Southland Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The meet begins Friday morning with the first events of the heptathlon and decathlon. The lone field event final of the day begins with the women's discus at 3:30 p.m., followed by the men's discus at 6 p.m. The first day of events will conclude with the running of the men's and women's 10,000 meters.
The Ladyjacks again enter the championship meet with a target on their backs. The SFA women enter the outdoor championship meet looking for their third consecutive outdoor title, and their sixth-overall title in a row. SFA heads to Natchitoches with a little more motivation this season as the women are looking to obtain the elusive track and field triple crown. The Ladyjacks have already captured the SLC cross country and indoor track and field titles this season.
The Lumberjacks enter the outdoor season looking to improve upon a very strong third-place showing during the indoor season, that saw SFA combine for three individual titles, 12 All-SLC honors and set two school records. The Lumberjacks will be led by several athletes who enter the meet in strong position to win a conference title. Juniors Nick McCloud and Jon Arthur enter the meet with the top marks in the 110-meter hurdles and the shot put, respectively. McCloud has posted a time of 13.61 in the 110-meter hurdles, while Arthur has a throw of 60-3.00 in the shot put. Freshman Clint Harris owns the league's top mark in the discus (184-8). SFA will also be one of the favorites in the 1,600-meter relay, owning the league's top time by four-hundredths of a second.
It's a similar story on the women's side with several athletes vying for conference titles. Junior Mary Dickerson leads the women's 400-meter dash with a mark of 54.24, while senior Amy Shackelford (35:08.07) leads a trio of Ladyjacks in the 10,000 meters. Freshman Chelsea Stephen owns the league's top time in the 100-meter hurdles with her mark of 13.70. Sophomore Crystal Walker has recorded a jump of 20-0.25 to lead the long jump, and is also considered a serious contender in the women's triple jump.
The second day of competition will begin Saturday morning with the final events of the heptathlon and decathlon. Field events will get under way at 1 p.m. with the men's long jump, while the track events are slated to begin at 3 p.m. with the 1,500 meters.