Jereem Richards won the men’s 200 meters and Alabama received top-three finishes from Alfred Chelanga and Antibahs Kosgei in the 5,000 meters, Kord Ferguson in the shot put, Will Herrscher in the pole vault and the men’s 4x400-meter relay team to earn a second-place finish at the 2017 Southeastern Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships in Nashville on Saturday. The finish is Alabama’s first in the top two at the SEC indoor meet since finishing second in 1983 and 1984.
The Crimson Tide finished the 2017 championships with 93 points, one point off the team record set in 1984. Arkansas won the team title with 98 points. The championship wasn’t decided until the end of the final event on Saturday – the 4x400-meter relay. The Crimson Tide quartet of sophomore Skyler Bowden, junior Jereem Richards and seniors Jacopo Lahbi and Steven Gayle lowered the school record for the second week in a row with a time of 3:02.92 to finish in third place, just ahead of the Razorbacks. But it wasn’t enough to catch the Hogs for the team championship. Florida, Texas A&M and Ole Miss tied for third with 76 points.
The Alabama women finished sixth with 51 points for their best finish since a sixth-place finish in 2006. Arkansas also won the women’s title with 106.5 points. LSU was second with 94, followed by Kentucky with 72, Georgia with 64 and Ole Miss with 61.5.
“I’m very proud of our entire program today,” said head coach Dan Waters. “The team points worked out close to what we anticipated. I thought we could make a run for the men’s title and finish about where we did in the women’s standings, and we did. I’ve never been prouder of a team than I am this one today. Our kids came ready to compete this week, and it showed. They have the mentality to be a championship program now, and that’s due to their hard work and their attitude. I was just so proud of our people this week.”
In addition to the 93 points scored by the Tide men’s team, the Alabama women’s team’s points total of 51 is the most since 2010 at the SEC indoor meet and ties for the third-most scored since 1994. In addition to the men’s team achieving its highest team finish since success runner-up finishes 33 and 34 years ago, the Tide women’s team’s sixth-place finish marks Alabama’s second top-six SEC indoor finish since winning the team title 23 years ago (1994).
Richards joined weight thrower Daniel Haugh as Alabama’s second individual champion at the 2017 championships as the junior raced to victory in the men’s 200 meters in a personal-best 20.34, the second-fastest time in school history. The victory is the first for Alabama in the 200 meters at the SEC Indoor Championships since Clive Wright won the event at the 1991 meet. Chelanga (13:58.08) and Kosgei (13:59.72) finished 2-3 in the 5,000 meters, posting the seventh- and ninth-fastest times in Alabama history. Ferguson finished third in the men’s shot put with a personal best mark of 61-2 3/4 (18.66m). Senior Kyle Felpel finished fourth at 60-10 3/4 (18.61m). Herrscher finished second in the men’s pole vault, and extended his school record, with a clearance of 17-7 3/4 (5.38m). Herrscher now owns the top four indoor pole vault marks in school history.
Vanessa Clerveaux got the women off to a fast start on Saturday, as the senior finished second in the women’s 60-meter hurdles in a personal-best 8.05, the second-fastest time in Alabama history. Quanesha Burks followed that up with a fourth-place finish in the women’s 60 meters in a time of 7.28, the second-fastest time of the senior’s career. Other top finishers for the women included Alex Gholston, who finished third in the women’s 400 meters in a personal-best 52.49, the second-fastest time in school history and Stacey Destin, who finished third in the women’s high jump with a clearance of 5-10 (1.78m).
Alabama will await the announcement of final qualifiers early next week for the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, which will be held March 10-11 at Texas A&M University.