High hopes for outdoor track & field

Zane Clodfelter

Despite the below-freezing temperatures and snow on campus, Friday marks the beginning of the men’s outdoor track and field schedule for head coach Mike Hillyard and his Southern Indiana athletes.

“We have been trying to deal with the weather,” Hillyard said. “We are used to dealing with it without an indoor facility.”

Even with the irregular outdoor track season weather, Hillyard said his team is continuing to work hard in preparation for the Eagles’ opening meet in St. Louis this weekend.

“We haven’t missed a beat,” he said.

Leading the transition for Hillyard from a productive indoor season to the outdoor slate is the senior All-American Michael Jordan, who collected two All-American honors earlier this month in indoor track and field competition.

Jordan attributes his readiness and transition to the outdoor schedule with his experiences running cross-country in fall.

“I feel like cross-country prepares you for any kind of weather,” Jordan said. “You learn to take it as it comes.”

Joining Jordan is Purdue transfer Johnnie Guy, who qualified for the NCAA Division I Championships as a freshman last year, running the 10K for the Boilermakers.

“He has his head right early,” said Jordan about his new teammate. “He is very mature along with having the talent.”

Hillyard says the strength of his team during the outdoor season will be experience

“It all starts with Michael (Jordan),” he said. “We have a lot of depth behind him.”

This weekend’s opening meet, hosted by Washington University, will also be a homecoming for redshirt freshman Lakeem Scott, who grew up across the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, Mo.

Scott is coming off a top 10 finish at the GLVC Championships during the indoor season and credits his redshirt season last year in making his first year of competition so successful.

“It made me better,” Scott said. “I was still able to practice with the team and gain valuable experience.

As for Jordan, his goals for his final outdoor season are simple – he wants to finish with a national title.

“I would like to finish off my senior season in the steeplechase and go at the national title,” Jordan said. “I’m putting all of those cards in the steeplechase.”