Stage Set for T&F at Conference USA Indoor Championships on Friday, Saturday

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Director of Tulane track and field Eric Peterson is looking for strong performances from his squad over the weekend
Director of Tulane track and field Eric Peterson is looking for strong performances from his squad over the weekend

Feb. 27, 2014

NEW ORLEANS - All of the hard work and preparation put in by the Tulane track and field indoor squad over the last three months will come to fruition on Friday and Saturday as the team will take to the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala., for the Conference USA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Live stats will be available on the Tulane track and field schedule page on TulaneGreenWave.com. Results will be available at the conclusion of the meet.

During the C-USA Indoor Championships last year, the Green Wave finished 10th, with points coming from seven athletes who will take to the stage over the weekend. Tulane's track and field team has had many successes during the course of the regular season, as many of the weekend's competitors who will compete for the Green Wave posted new personal bests at some point during the 2014 campaign.

At the Conference USA Indoor Championships, the top eight marks in each event will score the team points.

"We are really excited about the Conference USA Indoor Championship being here at this point in time," stated director of Tulane track and field Eric Peterson. "With the conference realignment, the makeup of teams has changed quite a bit from what we are accustomed to over the past couple of years. We are going into a conference championship with 15 teams instead of 12. The power structure has kind of changed, and it has created more parity among the team competition aspect as we go into this championship."

Tulane's jumpers will play a major role in how the team performs this weekend, as the Green Wave enters the meet with seven jumpers in the top-eight in the league standings in addition to a few others who are sitting right on the outskirts of the conference leaders.

Three Tulane pole vaulters are in the top-eight, including current conference leader Merritt Van Meter. The redshirt junior posted the league's top mark in the pole vault on the season, doubling as the Tulane school record, when she cleared 4.27 meters (14-0) at the Cherry and Silver Invitational in late January. Van Meter I s joined in the top-eight by true freshman Mary Carson Pitts and junior Jessica Knierim. Pitts notched the school's third best jump last weekend at the LSU Twilight, clearing 3.84 meters (12-7.25), and is currently ranked fifth in the conference. Knierim owns the league's sixth best jump, posting a jump of 3.80 meters (12-5.5) at the Southern Miss Cupid Classic on Feb. 14.



In addition to those three, Tulane is looking for potential points from senior Joanna Lapucha, whose season-best jump of 3.71 meters (12-2.5) at the Cherry and Silver Invitational sits at ninth in the conference rankings.

Tulane's triple jumpers have made their mark on the league this year, as they also own three of the top eight marks in C-USA. Redshirt junior Estefany Cruz enters the meet with the fourth-best triple jump in the league, having leapt 12.44 meters (40-9.75) at the Southern Miss Cupid Classic. Senior Briana Santiago posted a career-high at the LSU Twilight with a jump of 12.35 meters (40-6.25) for the sixth best triple jump in the league. Along with those two, sophomore Tamika Brazzel sits at eighth with a triple jump of 12.19 meters (40-0) on the season.

Brazzel is the lone Green Wave athlete who ranks in the top-eight in two events, as she also owns the eighth-best long jump after posting a career-best 5.88 meter (19-3.5) jump at the Samford Mutlis and Invitational.

"We are obviously counting on the areas of our team in which we stand out in, and the pole vault and the triple jump are the cornerstones of our team," mentioned Peterson. "Merritt Van Meter is one of the top pole vaulters in the country, and we have a very strong contingent of triple jumpers in Estefany Cruz, Tamika Brazzel and Briana Santiago. But we also have a lot of kids on the team who are developing and have a chance to impact our team."

In the high jump, senior Melanie Mainor sits right on the cusp of cracking the top-eight in the event, as she is currently at ninth. Mainor posted a jump of 1.65 meters (5-5) during season-opener at the BSC Panther Icebreaker in December.

On the track, Tulane will look for solid performances from their relay groups as well as some runners in individual events.

The Green Wave's distance medley group will enter into the meet with the third-best time in the conference this season, having run an 11:45.72 at the Husky Classic in Seattle. Freshman Sara Kebede, senior Hilary Woods, junior Michelle Kreutzberg and sophomore Mikayla Sonneborn will take part in the event.

Sophomore Lilla McMillan has been stellar in the 200 meter dash so far this season, and she will look to build upon her year by scoring for the Green Wave this weekend. McMillan has the fourth-fastest time in the event, running 24.31 in early December. The Green Wave will need her to put together one of her better performances to score in an event where the top 19 participants are within less than a second from one another.

"Lilla is ranked fourth in the event, but she has the potential to win the event," said Peterson.

In the throws portion of the meet, Tulane freshman shot putter Taylor Putts elevated her status amongst the league's best last weekend at the LSU Twilight with a new career-best throw. She will look to replicate her toss of 13.98 meters (45-10.5), which currently sits as the third-best throw in the conference.

Lastly, junior Tiffany Kenney hopes to score points in the pentathlon, as she came in fifth place during last year's meet. Kenney scored 3,309 points in the lone pentathlon she competed in this year, but the Colorado Springs, Colo., native has competed in each of the five events on many occasions throughout the 2014 season.

In addition to all of the athletes who will enter the meet in the top-eight, or near the top-eight, in the league standings, the Green Wave should also get some strong performances from sophomore Jessica Adamson in the 800 meter run, as well as from Sonneborn in the mile. Long distance runners Paige Callahan and Katharine Smiley will compete in both the 3,000 meters and the 5,000 meters, and both have the potential to score points for Tulane.

"We have a chance to improve and maybe even surprise some teams, so we are looking for a big weekend," added Peterson. "We have chances to score in areas where we haven't in the past."

Tulane will take part in the pentathlon (9:15am CT), the weight throw (12pm CT), the long jump (5pm CT), the 5,000 meter (5pm CT), the 800 meter trials (5:50pm CT), the 60 meter hurdles trial (7:45pm CT), the 200 meter trial (8:40pm CT) and the distance medley relay (9:10pm CT) on Friday evening.

On Saturday, the Green Wave will return to the Birmingham CrossPlex for the high jump (12pm CT), the pole vault (2pm CT), the shot put (3pm CT), the triple jump (3pm CT), the one mile (2pm CT), the 60 meter hurdles final (3:05pm CT), the 800 meter final (3:40pm CT), the 200 meter (4pm CT), the 3,000 meter run (4:20pm CT) and the 4 x 400 meter relay (5:15pm CT).

Fans can follow the Tulane track and field programs on Twitter (@GreenWaveXCTF) or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TulaneXCTF.

Tulane Entries for the Conference USA Indoor Championships

Women's 200m Dash
Lilla McMillan

Women's 800m Run
Jessica Adamson

Women's 1 Mile Run
. Sara Kebede
Mikayla Sonneborn

Women's 3,000m Run
Paige Callahan
Katharine Smiley

Women's 5,000m Run
Paige Callahan
Katharine Smiley

Women's 60m Hurdles
Dominique Hever

Women's 4 x 400m Relay
Tulane A (Woods, McMillan, Adamson, Kreutzberg, Hever)

Women's 4,000m Distance Medley
Tulane A (Kebede, Woods, Kreutzberg, Sonneborn, Adamson)

Women's High Jump
Melanie Mainor

Women's Pole Vault
Jessica Knierim
Joanna Lapucha
Mary Carson Pitts
Emma Staisloff
Merritt Van Meter

Women's Long Jump
Tamika Brazzel

Women's Triple Jump
Tamika Brazzel
Taylor Caulk
Estefany Cruz
Briana Santiago

Women's Shot Put
Taylor Potts

Women's Weight Throw
Cheyenne Swanson

Women's Indoor Pentathlon
Tiffany Kenney
Dana Ohlson