Laing First Tider To Win SEC Hurdles
Aiming for her first SEC title in the 100 meter hurdles, Laing successfully did just that as she became the first in Alabama track and field history to win the event at the SEC Championships. Laing entered the finals with the seventh-fastest time from the prelims, but took over the lead almost immediately as the gun was fired in Sunday's final. The St. Catherine, Jamaica native clocked a season-best time of 13.32 (-1.2) into a small headwind, just .04 seconds off her career-best. Laing's time ties her for the 21st-fastest time in the nation this year and makes her the No. 41 hurdler in the world this year.
"It feels really good," an ecstatic Laing said. "It feels really, really awesome. I worked really hard during the season and this is a really big accomplishment. This just starts the road to regionals and nationals in Oregon. There are always things you can work on, things that you can get better so we're going to review the tape and try to get faster."
Laing adds the SEC 100 meter hurdle championship to her SEC 60 meter hurdle championship that she attained during the indoor season. In addition, she is just the sixth female athlete in the past 10 years to double with the 60 meter hurdle and 100 meter hurdle Southeastern Conference titles in the same year.
"What can you say about Kim Laing," hurdle coach Scott Roberts said. "I wish I had a whole team of Kim Laing's – that girl has ice water in her veins. She doesn't let anything get to her and she came into this race confident and ready to go. I think it's a tremendous testament to her that she's the first Alabama hurdler to win the 100 meter hurdle event at this meet. This young lady is a joy to coach and I'm just tremendously excited for her."
With senior Chealsea Taylor's SEC heptathlon title and Laing's 100 meter hurdle title, this marks the first time since 2006 the Alabama women have had two individual SEC outdoor champions (Aymara Albury – shot put; Beth Mallory – discus).
The day started with a fourth place finish by the 4x100 meter relay team of sophomore Audra Frimpong, senior Chealsea Taylor, junior Kim Laing and senior Heather Matherson. The squad won the first heat with a season-best time of 45.26, an improvement of a stunning .63 seconds on their previous best.
In the 1,500 meter final, sophomore Leigh Gilmore and freshman Katlyn Will finished 10th and 12th with times of 4:32.07 and 4:33.90, respectively. The duo became the first Alabama women in the 1,500 meter final since 2004 (Julia Hicks, 5th).
The javelin contest turned out to be a huge event for the Tide when it picked up 21 team points from four athletes. Junior Meghan Austin led the quartet with a second-place finish and a personal-best launch of 155-0 to earn All-SEC honors for the first time in her career. Austin moved into fourth all-time in the Alabama record books.
True freshman Bekah Hoppis and sophomore Brittany Hines followed in third and fourth in the javelin with career-best marks of 150-11 and 143-1, respectively. Hoppis improved her best mark by just over nine feet, while Hines improved hers by over 13 feet. In addition, Hoppis is named to the All-SEC Freshman team for being the top freshman finisher in the event. Junior Rachel Robbs, returning after finishing ninth in the heptathlon two days ago, was seventh with a heave of 133-7. Hoppis is now sixth in the Alabama record books, while Hines moves into eighth.
In the shot put, freshman Wilamena Hopkins placed fourth with a launch of 51-3, which is just one half inch off her season-best throw. Due to finishing as the top freshman in the event, the Archer, Fla., native earned All-SEC Freshman accolades. Hopkins was fifth at the SEC Championships during the indoor season earlier this year, also earning All-SEC Freshman honors.
The Crimson Tide will have a week off to prepare for the NCAA Preliminary Round, May 27-29, in Greensboro, N.C. The meet is being hosted on the University of North Carolina at Greensboro campus.
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