Track & Field Is Improved
Up next, Alabama will travel select student-athletes to various Last Chance Meets around the country in hopes of qualifying more athletes for the NCAA Championships to be held here in Fayetteville, Ark. on March 12-13.
"This is our best finish in years and that makes me feel good about the direction we are headed as a team," head coach Harvey Glance said. "It's so hard to get points in this meet because there are so many ranked teams in the SEC. I think we're a better national team than conference team so I'm excited to see how we stack up in a few weeks when we come back for the NCAA Championships."
Due to a slower time in the prelims, true freshman Kirani James was placed in the slower of two heats for the 400m final but it didn't keep him from earning his first All-SEC accolade, finishing second overall.
Racing out front for the entire two-lap race, with no real competition to push the 17-year old international star, James posted a personal-best, NCAA automatic qualifying time of 45.24, setting a new junior world record for the 400m dash, indoors. James' time also bested his own school record of 45.79 set earlier this season, is the second-fastest time in the world this year and is the fifth-fastest time in collegiate indoor history.
"I just wanted to try my best, run well and hopefully I would have a good time," James said. "Torrin Lawrence is a good competitor, hopefully we will be in the same race at nationals in a few weeks."
In the faster heat of the 400m final, Georgia's Torrin Lawrence battled Florida's Calvin Smith for the first lap before making his move, lengthening the gap between the two sprinters along the backstretch. Lawrence leaned at the line for a time of 45.10 to claim the SEC title. Both Lawrence and James broke the meet record time of 45.29.
Two-time defending indoor 5,000m SEC champion, Tyson David, unfortunately saw his title stripped away on Sunday. The senior led for most of the race, but could not stay with the eventual champion, Scott MacPherson of Arkansas, when the Razorback made a strong move with three laps remaining. David finished third in the race with a NCAA provisional qualifying time of 13:58.20.
Also in the 5,000m run, sophomore Moses Kiptoo set a personal-best by 18 seconds, placing sixth with a time of 14:08.25. Junior Andrew Kirwa ran a season-best time of 14:33.78 to finish 12th.
After leading for the majority of the relay, the distance medley team of Julius Bor, Brandon Spradley, Aaron Stockstell and Joel Rop finished third with a time of 9:53.73.
In the final race of the championship, the 4x400m relay, the Crimson Tide's squad of James, Ray Jadusingh, Norgrove and Matt Watson combined for a time of 3:09.59 and a third place finish. It is the highest finish for Alabama's 4x400m relay since 1999.
"We've always come to this meet being close in events and this is the first time in a while that I've felt really well about how we finished," Glance said. "We've got the third best relay team in the conference and that's saying something."
In the final team standings, host institution Arkansas claimed the coveted title with 123 points, followed by Florida, tallying 119 points. LSU rounded out the top three teams with 108.5 points.
"I like how our guys competed today," Glance said. "We turned it around from yesterday when we looked like one of the worst teams in the conference. I'm real proud of the effort everybody made. We really looked like a good team today."
Senior Kim Laing and redshirt freshman Krystle Schade led the Alabama women's track and field team on the final day of the SEC Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center on Sunday. The Crimson Tide finished eighth in the final team standings, tallying 51 points.
Laing has always dreamed of being a SEC Champion. On Sunday, the Jamaica native's dream became a reality. From the starting gun to the finish line, Laing was in control of the 60m hurdle race, finishing with a personal-best time of 8.23 which ties her for the eighth-fastest time in the nation this year.
"It feels amazing to be a SEC Champion," Laing said. "I've worked really hard to get this done. I've tried to focus a lot on just powering home, using what I have and what I've learned and just taking it to the next level. I did that today."
With Laing's NCAA provisional qualifying time of 8.23, the fifth-best time in school history, she became the first Alabama athlete to win a SEC championship in the event since 2005 when Beau Walker also claimed the title on this track – Walker also won the 55m hurdle SEC title in 2006 in Gainesville, Fla.
"I'm extremely proud of Kim Laing," head coach Sandy Fowler said. "It's something she's worked really hard for over the last couple of years. I think she had a little bit of vengeance to pay after outdoors last year (fell in the 100m hurdle finals). This is going to jump start her into nationals and then also into the outdoor 100m hurdles as well because I know she wants that one as strong as this one."
In her first indoor SEC Championship meet, Schade earned her first All-SEC accolade as she finished second overall to LSU's Brittani Carter with a clearance of 5-10 1/2. She was also named to the All-SEC Freshman team for being the highest freshman finisher.
Also in the high jump, senior Chealsea Taylor finished fourth, clearing the bar set at 5-8 3/4. Junior Rachel Robbs finished in 10th place with a season-best leap of 5-5.
"With our high jumpers, for Krystle to earn All-SEC as a freshman means that this is just a starting point and she's going to have four fantastic years at Alabama," Fowler said. "She hasn't even come close to reaching her potential. Chealsea Taylor and her are great working partners together."
Sophomore Amethyst Holmes set yet another personal-best on the season in the weight throw, heaving the 20-lb. implement 60 feet and four inches to place seventh. Holmes' mark of 60-4 moves her into fourth all-time in Alabama school history. Overall this year, she has improved her weight throw mark by almost 12 feet. Freshman Wilamena Hopkins set a personal best by almost two feet, placing 17th with a throw of 51-7.
"I'm very proud of Amethyst Holmes," Fowler said. "A lot of people wouldn't know that she is a walk-on student-athlete. The type of dedication and time she has put in to learn her events is phenomenal. She's turning into a fantastic competitor."
After losing a shoe in the 3,000m run on Saturday night, sophomore Kelsey Johnson was fortunate enough to keep the pair on her feet in today's 5,000m race. Johnson improved from fifth in the 3,000 to fourth in the 5,000 with a time of 16:48.11. She came just .29 seconds from setting a new personal-best in the event.
"I am extremely impressed with the Kelsey Johnson's character and the way she approaches her events," Fowler said. "She's an extremely smart runner. Her placing fourth today does nothing but say how good she is and how great she can be. She is tenacious and I can see her eventually winning this championship."
The distance medley relay team of Leigh Gilmore, Talaya Owens, Katlyn Will and Elsbeth Denton turned in a fifth place finish with a time of 11:48.54.
"This is best distance medley relay finish in years," Fowler said. "I am proud of every one of the girls in that relay. Especially Talaya Owens who came back in the 4x400m directly after that relay. That says a lot about her character and ability to do things for this team."
The 4x400m relay team of Heather Matherson, Talaya Owens, Kim Laing and Camilla Armstead combined for a time of 3:55.53, finishing just out of the points in ninth.
The championship meet included five of the top-10 teams in the country. In the final standings, Florida claimed the elusive title with 110 points, followed by Arkansas, tallying 82 points. LSU rounded out the top three teams with 79.5 points.
BamaMag Top Stories
Crimson & Blue Chips: October 28The CABC podcast caps the week with a look at what needs to happen during the bye week, looking back at the 8-0 start and the latest in Alabama recruiting.
'Bama Football Recruiting Q&A - 10/28Alabama had a huge recruiting weekend ahead of its bye week and it looks like the beginning of the home stretch towards another No. 1 class. Dig into the latest in this week's…
With Alabama Open, SEC Has Blah WeekLook for Auburn and Tennessee to win in romps this week
Brannon adjusting to Bama projected positionAlabama hosted a bevy of commitments over the weekend during its win over Texas A&M including Hunter Brannon, who is adjusting well to the position UA envisions him at.
BamaMagYesterday at 9:46 AM