With three teams that have combined for 35 of the 59 past Southland indoor track and field team championships missing from this year's meet, the battle to see who raises the 2013 men's and women's trophies is wide open.
Sam Houston State looks to step into the void when the 10 Southland teams gather at the Mosier Center at the University of Oklahoma in Norman Friday and Saturday. The event will kick off with the women's 60-meter hurdles at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Texas State, Texas-San Antonio and Texas-Arlington all have moved away to other conferences. UTSA has won the last seven men's indoor team titles. The Roadrunners, Bobcats and Mavericks have won 19 of the 33 men's championships and 16 of the 26 women's crowns since 1980.
As four-time defending champion, Stephen F. Austin is the favorite on the women's side. The Lumberjacks are the top returning competitor in the men's event with a third place finish last year.
Based on marks in Sam Houston's indoor competition in January and February, the Bearkats definitely are ready to give the Jacks a run for their money.
Several Sam Houston athletes rank among the top performers in their specialties in the league this year.
For the men, Matt Johnson has posted the best multi-events score with 5,537 points and owns the third best mark in the 60 meter hurdles (8.06). Johnson competed for the USA national team in last year's Germany versus United States Decathlon international event.
Matt Viverette has been the second fastest in the hurdles with a 8.01 clocking. Charles White is tops in the conference in both the long jump (24' 5") and triple jump (51' 0.75").
Fred Arellano also stands second in the 800 meters with a time of 1:53.51. Brian Helaire comes into the Southland indoor with the third best 400 meter mark of 47.81.
Both the Sam Houston men's and women's 4x400 relays rank second in the league with times of 3:13.43 and 3:45.11, respectively.
Four Bearkat women stand atop the Southland performances in their events.
Allyson Pettit is tops in the pentathlon with 3,556 points. Morgan Davis is the defending Southland Conference women's multis champion, giving the Kats a one-two punch in the event.
Alyssa Dooley leads in both the mile (4:55.44) and the 800 meters (2:12.67), Lygia Foreman is number one in the 400 meters (54.79) and Ana Moreno is tops in the 5000 meters (18:20.72).
Sam Houston State has won two Southland Conference women's indoor championships (in 2007 and 2008). The Bearkats' top men's indoor finishes have been as runner-up in 2006 and third four times.