Tide Has Good Start In NCAA Track

EUGENE, Oregon – The Alabama Track and Field team got off to a strong start in front of 9,165 fans on day one of the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships being held at venerable Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus this week.

On Wednesday, Alabama advanced both the men's and women's 4x100-meter relays as well as the fastest 100-meter runner in the world this year to the championship finals.

"For us to do a great job early, it sets the tone and gets everyone excited," Matt Kane, UA's sprints coach said. "They get inspired when they see their teammates who have been working hard next to them every day start doing well, and they just feed off that."

In the women's 4x100-meter relay, freshman Quanesha Burks, junior Remona Burchell, junior Dominique Kimpel and senior Sarah Thomas raced around the oval in a time of 43.76. It was the Tide's fastest time this season and third fastest all time. Their time puts them fifth going into finals.

"I felt like we were moving out there," Dominique Kimpel said. "I wish my handoff could have been better, but that's something to work on going into finals."

It marks the first time since 2001 that Alabama has had a women's 4x100m relay advance to the finals of the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

"The way we set it up was to put pressure on the other teams and get way out in front," Kane said. "We run our best legs early and try to put pressure on other teams and make them make mistakes. We try to get a lead, and running a 43.7 at the right time makes you feel really good. They're really excited for the finals."

Burchell came back later in the day and blazed to a 10.95, the fastest wind-aided 100-meter time in the world this year. The only runner under 11 seconds on the day, she goes into the finals as the top seed.

"I was running to advance today," Burchell said. "I don't really show my excitement much, but it was a good race, it felt good."

Having two races on the day actually helped Burchell along Kane said.

"After the 4x100, I could tell she felt really good," Kane said. "I felt like it would be a good performance if she just reacted and did her job. Running the 4x100 helps her a lot - she's able to get the wheels turning and that helps her run fast in the 100."

The Crimson Tide quartet of senior Alex Sanders, sophomore Dwight Davis, senior Akeem Haynes and senior Diondre Batson posted a time of 39.36 to take second in the third of three heats of the men's 4x100m. Batson, in his first complete race since before the Southeastern Conference Championships, ran the anchor leg and roared past at least two teams to pull the Crimson Tide into the finals.

The men's and women's 4x100m relay finals are Saturday, while Burchell will run for the national title on Friday.

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