T&F To Be a Part of Elite Competition at Alabama Relays in Tuscaloosa

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Senior Joanna Lapucha currently sits at third in the C-USA standings
Senior Joanna Lapucha currently sits at third in the C-USA standings

March 20, 2014

NEW ORLEANS - A full squad of Tulane track and field athletes will head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for Friday and Saturday's John Mitchell Alabama Relays at the Sam Bailey Track and Field Stadium as they look to build upon marks set during the first two weekends of the outdoor season against very stiff competition.

Live results can be followed by clicking the `live results' link on the TulaneGreenWave.com track and field schedule page. Final results for Tulane athletes will be posted to TulaneGreenWave.com at the conclusion of the weekend.

Bits and pieces of the outdoor squad have competed during the last two weekends of the young outdoor season. Many of the Green Wave athletes have put up solid results, including some that rank among the nation's best. But with the NCAA Indoor National Championships having wrapped up this past Saturday, most track programs will be focusing their entire attention to the outdoor season. But with the prior two weeks dedicated to the outdoor season, the Green Wave track and field program has already posted some experience in the outdoor campaign.

"I really do believe that as an entire staff, we are having increasingly higher expectations in performance levels for everybody on the team," said Tulane track and field director Eric Peterson. "We've gone through the transition period from moving to outdoor from indoor. The men have a couple of meets under their belt now. Going to a big meet like the Alabama Relays will make us more competitive. Our athletes will have to raise their level of their game."

Sitting atop the NCAA leaderboards so far this year is redshirt freshman Daliadiz Ortiz. The native of Puerto Rico leads the nation in the javelin throw with a distance of 49.02 meters (160-10), tossed at the Jaguar Opener on March 7. Last weekend, Ortiz wasn't far off from her personal best, as she launched the javelin 48.86 meters (160-4) at the Southern Miss Invitational. Ortiz missed most of last season because of a shoulder injury, but the Green Wave coaching staff is encouraged with her progress so far this year.



Tulane will get a boost in the pole vaulting department, as redshirt junior Merritt Van Meter will make her outdoor debut, as she competed last weekend in the NCAA Indoor National Championships. Van Meter leapt 4.00 meters (13-1.5) at the indoor meet to become the just the fifth multi-time All-American in Tulane track and field history.

While Van Meter has been wrapping up her indoor season, the rest of the stable of pole vaulters have made the most out of their last two weeks on the outdoor circuit, all having competed at the Jaguar Opener. Freshman Mary Carson Pitts and senior Joanna Lapucha are second and third in the conference rankings. Pitts - who leapt 3.76 meters (12-4) - and Lapucha - whose best jump is 3.68 meters (12-0.75) - currently sit at 13th and 15th, respectively, in the national standings.

"We have some internal competition in the pole vault," mentioned Peterson of his trio who are trying to get the edge on one another for the top spot on the team and in the league.

On the track, sophomore Lilla McMillan is pacing the league in two different events. McMillan posted two league-leading performances at the Southern Miss Invitational last weekend in the 100 meter dash and the 200 meter dash. The Mill Valley, Calif., native ran 12.31 in the shorter distance while finishing the 200 meter dash in 24.29. McMillan will run in a longer distance this weekend, as she will compete in the 400 meter dash.

"Lilla has shown tremendous strength and speed so far in the indoor season," stated Peterson. "I think she is really going to surprise some people in the 400 meters."

Two mid-distance runners are pacing the league for the Green Wave in freshman Sara Kebede (800 meters) and sophomore Jessica Adamson (1,500 meters). Kebede will again run in the 800 meters after making her season debut last weekend with a time of 2:18.74. Adamson will join Kebede in the 800 meter race, which was her top event during the indoor season. Kebede will make her debut in the 1,500 meter race, as well.

The men have put up some top performances on the year, as well. Sophomore Jack White leads the league in the 1,500 meter run, after finishing 4:05.81 at the Jaguar Opener in the season opener. Freshman Kade Kistner made his outdoor debut last weekend at the Southern Miss Invitational in the event, and his time of 4:08.02 is good for second place in the conference. Both, along with top-five placeholder Nicholas Meloro, will take part in the event over the weekend.

Tulane has gotten some solid outings from the men's field team athletes in freshman pole vaulter Caleb Bertrand and junior discus thrower Thomas Lynch. Bertrand owns the league's third best leap with a jump of 4.65 meters (15-3) from the Jaguar Opener, which doubled as his collegiate debut. Lynch, who is the school record holder in the discus, had a throw of 46.63 meters (152-4) at the Southern Miss Invitational that stands as the sixth best toss in the conference through two weeks.

"We are looking for some leadership on this team from guys like Thomas," mentioned Peterson. "With Caleb, we've seen some significant adjustments in his technique, and it's just a matter of time before that shows up in competition."

But the name of the Alabama Relays is that for a reason. The Tulane relay teams will face strong competition but figure to stack up well. Two women's relay teams - the 1,600 meter sprint medley and the 4,000 meter distance medley - will take part in the competition this weekend. Two legs of the DMR - Kebede and junior Michelle Kreutzberg - were half of a point scoring indoor DMR quartet at the C-USA Indoor Championships. McMillan and Adamson will run the two other legs, and both have experience in relays, having run in the 4 x 400 during the indoor season.

Last weekend, the men's 4 x 100 meter relay team posted a third-place finish in the event with a time of 42.01, ranking the quartet in the top-ten in Tulane track and field history. Freshman Sherman Badie, freshman Richard Allen, sophomore Lorenzo Doss and junior Taurean Nixon traded in their pads and helmets for spikes and a baton, and notched a top-three finish in the conference on the season. Doss will not run this weekend, and instead, will be replaced by fellow footballer and jumper Devon Breaux.

"We are excited about the development of our 4 x 100 meter relay team," added Peterson. "The team is comprised of four excellent football players. The team ran for the first time last weekend at the Southern Miss Invitational, and they did a fabulous job, but they are capable of so much more. There is a lot of speed on this team. Devon will not jump for us, but he'll run in the relay."

Tulane will be battling alongside many Southeastern Conference schools. A total of 28 schools have entered the competition, including Alabama, Georgia, UAB, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Southern Miss, Georgia Tech and Louisville.

"This is the time of the year where the level of competition is beginning to heat up, and the meets are going to much more competitive moving forward," said Peterson. "This weekend is going to be a perfect opportunity for our kids."

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 Alabama Relays


Women's 400m Dash
Lilla McMillan
Hilary Woods

Women's 800m Run
Jessica Adamson
Sara Kebede
Michelle Kreutzberg

Women's 1,500m Run
Sara Kebede
Mikayla Sonneborn

Women's 5,000m Run
Paige Callahan

Women's 100m High Hurdles
Dominique Hever

Women's 400m Intermediate Hurdles
Dominique Hever
Madison Smith

Women's 3,000m Steeplechase
Mikayla Sonneborn

Women's 1,600m Sprint Medley
Tulane (McMillan, Woods, Kreutzberg, Adamson)

Women's 4,000m Distance Medley
Tulane (Kebede, McMillan, Kreutzberg, Adamson)

Women's High Jump
Melanie Mainor

Women's Pole Vault
Joanna Lapucha
Mary Carson Pitts
Merritt Van Meter

Women's Long Jump
Tamika Brazzel

Women's Triple Jump
Tamika Brazzel
Briana Santiago

Women's Shot Put
Taylor Potts

Women's Discus Throw
Cheyenne Swanson

Women's Javelin
Daliadiz Ortiz
Dana Ohlson


Men's 400m Dash
Christopher Arechiga
John Mouton

Men's 800m Run
Jonathan Heil
Kade Kistner
Jack White

Men's 1,500m Run
Kade Kistner
Nicholas Meloro
Jack White

Men's 5,000m Run
Geoff Zelek

Men's 3,000m Steeplechase
Nicholas Meloro

Men's 4 x 100m Relay
Tulane (Badie, Allen, Breaux, Nixon)

Men's 1,600m Sprint Medley
Tulane (Arechiga, Allen, Nixon, White)

Men's Pole Vault
Caleb Bertrand

Men's Shot Put
Eldrick Washington

Men's Discus Throw
Thomas Lynch