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LAFAYETTE, La. (5/10/07) After being tabbed to take the conference title a year ago, the Mean Green women were picked by the coaches to finish fourth at this weekend’s Sun Belt Conference Outdoor Meet to be held in Lafayette, La. The men were also picked in the middle of the pack as they were picked in the sixth spot.
Florida International was pegged as the favorite on this year’s women’s side with 81points, while on the men’s side it is South Alabama getting the nod slightly over Arkansas State.
For the Mean Green, the women will be in search of their first outdoor title since 2003; however, the team has not finished any less than third since claiming that last title, including a third-place finish a year ago also in Lafayette.
The women will return two of their three conference champions from a year ago with hopes of a repeat performance.
Ryan Hill’s leap of 5-8 was enough to claim her first conference title at last year’s meet, and with a regional-qualifying mark in her back pocket she can concentrate solely on defending that title. Her toughest competition looks to be a trio of jumpers that include Amy Fledderman of Arkansas State, Heather Davis of Louisiana-Monroe, and Nicole Knox of South Alabama. Each of those jumpers has also posted regional-qualifying marks.
Senior thrower Heather Wood is the second of those defending champions that will have a bulls-eye on her back for the weekend. The Georgia transfer took second in the shot put earlier this year at the indoor championships by the narrowest of margins after claiming that crown in both indoor and outdoor in 2006. The 2007 meet will undoubtedly put revenge on her mind as she currently holds the third-best throw in the Sun Belt this season.
The women have also had a number of other successes this season including regional-qualifying 4x100-meter relay team that has gone under that regional mark twice on the year. Sophomore jumper Brandi Stanfield has also notched her place in Des Moines in the triple jump and will be eyeing her first conference outdoor title.
On the men’s side it will be a trio of field performers that will be counted on to lead the way as they search for their first outdoor title since 2002. The Mean Green men have not finished higher than fourth in any of the last three seasons.
Senior Heath Smith is one of only a handful of athletes in the Sun Belt in 2007 that has regionally qualified in multiple events. He currently holds the conference’s longest toss in the javelin, and trails Louisiana-Monroe’s Walt Williams by mere inches for the SBC’s best in the shot put.
The Mean Green also has a pair of high jumpers that have fared well throughout this season’s campaign. Toby Edwards claimed his first conference title at the indoor championships in February, and has qualified for the regional meet for the first time as well in the outdoor season. Senior Mark Lee will be looking to defend his crown at his final conference meet this weekend. Lee took first with a jump of 2.05 meters last year and has already leaped 2.10 meters this season.
Events begin on Friday with the decathlon, while the bulk of the meet begins at 12:30 on Friday with field events. Competition will continue through Sunday evening with the final event, the men’s 4x400-meter relay, scheduled to take place at 9 pm.