SEC Track and Field Weekly Release (PDF)
SEC Championship Central
By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – One of the foremost track and field analysts for more than three decades, Larry Rawson provides one of the best perspectives in collegiate track and field. He will be on the announce team for ESPN3 this weekend as the network provides live streaming video coverage of the Southeastern Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships in Lexington.
ESPN3 will stream the meet live during the following times: Saturday, February 25 – 2:05-7:30 p.m. ET; Sunday, February 26 – 1:25-5:00 p.m. ET.
In advance of the meet, Rawson sat down with the SEC Digital Network to offer his insight on the upcoming SEC Championships. The Q&A with Rawson is featured below:
SEC Digital Network: Having covered collegiate track and field and the SEC for as long as you have, what is most impressive to you about the SEC Championship meet?
“It is a terrifically fast conference, meaning from the 60-meter dash all the way to the 4x4s; it is known for that. Often times, the athletes in the SEC lead the country with their performances. When you’ve got people who are great hurdlers, they are often very good long jumpers and high jumpers, and coaches can use their versatility in that way to score many points. Many of the fastest kids come from the south, so the recruiting for the SEC schools is right in their backyard. The statistics are pretty amazing – something like 85 percent of the fastest 100-meter dash sprinters in the country come from California or the Southern United States.”
SEC Digital Network: Talk about how different the challenge is of winning the SEC meet as opposed to the national meet. How important is depth in having success at the conference level?
“Depth at the conference championships will very often prevail at the SEC level vs. winning at the NCAA level, because the quality of competition is measurably higher at the NCAA Indoor and NCAA Outdoor Championships. For example, Kimberlyn Duncan of LSU will likely win the 200 easily here, which makes her the odds-on favorite to win the NCAA Indoor Championships. Her talent level is so high and in the SEC, you look at athletes who can be champions at the NCAA level. You can score many points with athletes ranked in the SEC with depth. For instance, if you have maybe the three best milers in the SEC on your team, you’re going to score a lot of points. Depth that way is the reason that a lot of college scholarships are divided up into pieces. Coaches are working to add more and more depth to their programs.”
SEC Digital Network: What do you expect to see from this meet on the men’s side?
“Arkansas has done an excellent job regrouping after Chris Bucknam had a tough start replacing John McDonnell; there were some injuries and redshirts and things like that. He and his group of excellent coaches have built a strong, deep team. They’re leading the pack so to speak, at least for this meet. Florida is also in great pursuit, and it’s kind of wide open for third place with that possibly being LSU. Arkansas is very strong in distance, while Florida and others are stronger from 400 meters on down, and also in field events. I think it will be a real battle here.”
SEC Digital Network: What do you expect to see from this meet on the women’s side?
“The women’s competition is going to be even closer. I think the favorite is probably Coach Dennis Shaver’s LSU Lady Tigers. Lance Harter’s Arkansas team is also in close pursuit and Florida’s women’s team is very solid. Sometimes a meet like this is just a false start away from everything being thrown into a state of upheaval. Right now, LSU’s sprinting corps is extraordinarily strong, as well as in the hurdles, so they will be able to rack up some big points there. The Arkansas women have talent scattered all over the event structure of the meet. They have some very good 800-meter runners and a lot of talent in the mile and the 3,000 meters. Florida also has some strength there with Cory McGee and their new addition Agata Strausa. It will be interesting, as it always is with the SEC. Four of the top eight women’s teams nationally are SEC teams. There is tremendous talent in the conference.”
SEC Digital Network: Who are some key people to watch who stand out to you on the women’s side?
“Kimberlyn Duncan is a star in my mind. I think this woman, who is now a junior, will be someone who makes the Olympic Trials. Whether she makes the team or not, we will see. She has tremendous range and is really talented. I think she will stand out in this competition as far as what can be accomplished for LSU. There are some good international athletes in this meet. Tina Sutej from Slovenia is easily the best women’s pole vaulter. If she has just a normal day, she should shine again and perform well for Arkansas. Another thing to watch for is the brilliance of the LSU 4x4 team. They lead the country and are an enormously talented group of ladies.”
SEC Digital Network: Who is a key guy to watch on the men’s side?
“Someone I am watching with interest is Jeff Demps. There is truth in what Coach Mike Holloway has said earlier that, ‘Look at what he’s done while he’s had to concentrate on football as well.’ Will he be a better track athlete without balancing that with football? Based on his past performances in high school, I think that’s true. He should just get faster and faster. Everybody will be watching carefully what that man will do. He is still the high school national record holder for 100 meters.”