Optimism very high for NSU as 2006 indoor track & field season begins at LSU

BATON ROUGE – The 2006 collegiate indoor track and field season begins Saturday as 17 teams, including several state schools, compete at LSU's Purple Tiger Invitational and Northwestern State couldn't be more eager to get going.

Field events begin at 9:30 at the Carl Maddox Field House with running starting at 11 and competition continuing into the evening.

"We're really looking forward to Saturday," said veteran NSU coach Leon Johnson. "Our objective is to perform as well as we have in practice and if we do that, we'll have a good outing. We think we are ready for plenty of success this season, indoors and outdoors, men and women."

Johnson unabashedly says the 2006 Lady Demons are "probably the strongest team we've had in school history … certainly the most balanced with capable athletes in every area." As for the men's team, calling this squad the strongest would be a mouthful, but he says "we're definitely stronger than we've been in the last few years and in some events we could be as good as we've ever been."

Headlining the NSU entries Saturday are returning Southland Conference indoor champions J.D. Henry (men's 200 meters), Tameshia Milller (women's 60m hurdles) and Ravyn Hayward (men's 60m dash), along with senior Derrion Harris (high jump, SLC outdoor champion), sprinter Marcus Pitre, men's throwers Corey Jones and Daniel Yarbrough, distance runner Steve Kemei, and Lady Demon hurdler and triple jumper Shanae Steward and 800 meter runner Margeaux Fisher, an All-Louisiana cross country performer.

Joining LSU and Northwestern in the competition Saturday will be Southeastern Louisiana, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette, McNeese State, Nicholls State and New Orleans.

Senior high jumper Cameron Waugh and Lady Demon sprinter Samantha Flowers will not compete for medical reasons, although both could return next week, said Johnson.