Alabama Senior Wins Heptathlon

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Senior Chealsea Taylor, winning the Southeastern Conference heptathlon championship, led the Alabama women's track and field team on Friday at the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium on Friday evening. Alabama is tied for third after two days of competition.

"Chealsea is such a fantastic athlete and has always had so much potential to do so many different things," Alabama multi-events coach Scott Roberts said. "It's been a long road for her and here she is, in her senior year, getting the SEC championship. I'm really, really excited for her. She actually qualified in the hurdles for the regional meet and it's just the second year she's ever done the hurdles. I just could not be more thrilled for this young lady. This is one of the greatest rewards a coach can have is to have a person like this have this kind of success."

In record-breaking fashion, Taylor took down a 25-year-old Alabama school record while claiming the SEC heptathlon title. The Denver, Colo. native bested the field by 109 points with her lifetime-best point total of 5,672, which is the fourth-best mark in the nation this year. Finishing fourth at last year's SEC Championships, this is just the second year that Taylor has competed in the heptathlon. During the indoor season, she was second in the pentathlon after placing third in the event the previous two years.

"The school record and being a SEC champion have been goals since I started the heptathlon last year," Taylor said. "To finally see it come to fruition is kind of surreal. Since indoors, when I was so close to winning the pentathlon, I've wanted to be an SEC champion more than anything. I know it hasn't sunk in yet, but I'm sure tonight, when I'm laying down thinking about it, I'm going to start crying again."

The heptathlon athletes began the day with three events remaining. Taylor led the competition with 3,580 points followed by Precious Nwokey of Kentucky with 3,431 points, while sophomore Rachel Robbs sat in eighth with 3,156 points.

"That's a record that many years ago probably needed to be broken," head women's track and field coach Sandy Fowler said. "I always tell the girls, that's what records are for. They are to be broken for you to make your own history. I'm proud of Chealsea. She's been on the verge for a while, getting pieces, but never really putting the whole thing together so I'm happy to see her do that. I think she realizes now what type of heptathlete she can be."

Taylor started the second day of the heptathlon in the long jump where she finished seventh with a season-best leap of 19-0 1/2 (+1.2). Robbs came within two inches of a season-best leap with a mark of 17-6 (+0.9), finishing 11th in the event.

In the javelin event, Robbs placed fourth with a launch of 118-3, while Taylor was eighth with a 10-foot personal-best mark of 109-5.

In the last event of the heptathlon competition, the 800 meters, Taylor notched an eighth place finish with a season-best time of 2:24.50 which was good enough to earn her first SEC championship.

The final standings of the heptathlon had Taylor at the top with 5,672 points followed by Laquinta Aaron of Mississippi State with 5,563 points. Robbs just missed scoring for the Tide, as she was ninth with 4,962 points.

Sophomore Amethyst Holmes scored the first team points for the Tide on the weekend, finishing sixth in the hammer throw with a career-best launch of 175-2. The mark betters her eighth-best throw in school history by four inches.

The 800 meter prelims had two Alabama women set huge lifetime-best marks. Sophomore Leigh Gilmore, missing the finals by just .66 seconds, clocked a time of 2:10.54 to place 10th. Freshman Katlyn Will finished 13th, crossing the line with a time of 2:11.44.

Junior Talaya Owens just missed advancing to the 400 meter finals by .48 seconds, finishing 10th with a time of 60.27.

In the final event of the day, the 10,000 meters, junior Haley Moody posted a time of 37:33.48 to finish 10th.

"I was excited about the way we started the meet," Fowler said. "Amethyst was a pleasant surprise in the hammer throw. She's come a really long way and with another year under her belt, her future is completely untapped, I feel. It was unfortunate not seeing Talaya get through to the finals in the 400 meter hurdles. I really thought she would make it so I was surprised that we couldn't make that happen. Haley just didn't have it today in the 10,000 meters. She has a better background than what we saw today. She's a very powerful runner and has run faster in the past."

The Crimson Tide will return to action in the field on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (ET) with the pole vault, while the first running event for Alabama will be the 1,500 meter prelims at 6:00 p.m. The final event on Saturday is the 3,000 meter steeplechase, set for a 8:10 p.m. start.

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