LMU opens outdoor season at L-R Southside Power and Fitness Invitational

HICKORY, N.C. — The Lincoln Memorial men’s and women’s track & field teams will open their outdoor seasons this weekend at the Lenoir-Ryne Southside Power and Fitness Invitational in Hickory, N.C., Friday and Saturday.

This weekend’s event will kick off a schedule of four meets, which will culminate with the South Atlantic Conference Outdoor Championships April 18-20. The SAC Championships will also be run at the L-R facility.

“At the end of the indoor season I explained to the team that we have a lot of people that are better suited to the outdoor season,” Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Rochelle Black said. “Kyle Nabe is a 400 hurdler and will compete in the decathlon, Jamaal Wiggins was in the 200-meter but is a 400 hurdler, Anna Verdu Cobo was in the 60-meter hurdles but is a better 400-meter hurdler.

“I’m hoping that when we start the outdoor season they will be in their comfort zone and it shows in the results,” he continued. “We’ve been training pretty hard for this first meet and I just want us to go out and compete and see what happens. As the season progresses the workouts get less intense and gives them more time to recover.”

During the indoor season, the teams don’t get an opportunity to train on an indoor track. During the outdoor season, the teams are able to train on local tracks.

“We are very thankful and fortunate to be able to use Middlesboro High School and Cumberland Gap High School to train,” Black said. “They have been gracious enough to let us use their facilities. We have 11 schools in the SAC competing and only two have their own tracks. This is the first year in the program where we have been able to consistently train on a track.”

Moving to outdoors gives some of the athletes an opportunity to specialize in events that are not part of the indoor season.

A native of nearby Tazewell, Tenn., junior Aaron Reed will compete in the javelin throw along with Nabe and the sprinters will move to the more traditional 100-meter distance rather than the 60-meter sprints run indoors.

“No more 60s, I’m happy about that,” said Black. “Also, we have different relays. During the indoor season, we have a distance medley relay. That is gone and we substitute with the 4×100 meter relay. We may contest in that event this year, especially on the women’s side.”

The only competitors in the outdoor field events will be Reed and Nabe, while Morgan Salyers will once again participate in the triple jump, an event where she is the indoor school record holder and medaled at the SAC Indoor Championships.

“Aaron will compete in the javelin in every meet and I think he is doing well in practice,” Black said. “His coordination has improved and his strength is up. Over the past three weeks I think he sees that he is throwing a lot better than last season.”

Outside of Salyers, the only athlete to compete in jumping events will be Nabe as part of the decathlon.

“Kyle will jump this season but it probably won’t be this week,” said Black. “We’ll probably wait two weeks when we get down to Emory. He is definitely going to jump as part of the decathlon.

“Morgan will triple jump, but not this week,” continued Black. “She had a little leg soreness after the indoor season so I’m probably going to let her rest and be ready for the latter half of the season.”

One area where Black expects the men to excel is in the distance and middle distance events.

“The 400 and up is where I think we’ll do well,” he said. “We’ve got Miguel Reis in the 400 and we have Jaeden Douglass coming back from an injury. We’ve got Brandon Vaughn in the 1500, Roberto Fajardo in the 800 along with Chris Buford and Jonathan Hughes. Sam Lloyd-Perks did well in the indoor season and should do really well in the 10K. That is what he came here for. The longer the run the better for him.”

On the women’s side, Black is looking to the sprints for points.

“Speaking on the women’s side our strength looks to be in our 400 group,” he said. “We have Jerrica Covington, who holds the outdoor school record in the 400, Jordan Crawford has been very consistent, Anna in the 400 hurdles and we have two freshman, Destiny Gibbs and Grace Mathis. They have really matured over the past few months learning how to run in college. Add in Kate Zander and I don’t think that group will be outdone. Chloe Harp ran very well last year and had a good indoor season this year.”

The L-R Southside Power and Fitness Invitational kicks off at 1 p.m. on Friday and continues Saturday at 1:40 p.m.