Alabama Freshman Wins 400 meter

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – True freshman Kirani James claimed the sixth Southeastern Conference outdoor 400 meter title in program history on the fourth and final day of the 2010 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium on Sunday. The Crimson Tide finished 11th as a team, tallying 41 points.

Clocking a personal-best time of 45.01, James claimed the sixth SEC outdoor 400 meter championship in program history – the fourth Alabama athlete to win the event and first since 1993. The Gouyave, Grenada native was runner-up in the 400 meters at the indoor SEC championships. James is the first freshman to win the 400 meter event since Calvin Smith of Florida (2007).

"It's just good to gain experience," a humble James said. "Coach said just go out there and compete to the best of my ability. I knew if I just went out there and followed my race plan, I would get the win. I felt really good the whole way around."

By winning the 400 meter conference title, James defeated two of the fastest sprinters in the world including No. 1 Smith and No. 3 Tavaris Tate (Mississippi State). The 17-year-old's time of 45.01 betters his No. 5 world ranking as well as his school record and gives him the third-fastest time in the nation this year. In addition, James is named to the All-SEC Freshman team for being the highest finishing freshman in the event.

With James' SEC 400 meter title, this marks the third consecutive year the Alabama men have had at least one individual SEC outdoor champion (Tyson David – 10,000 meters in 2008 and 2009). The last time Alabama had a three-year stretch of at least one SEC outdoor champion came in 2000-02.

The day started with a sixth place finish by the 4x100 meter relay team of junior Brandon Spradley, James, senior Ray Jadusingh and senior Matt Watson. The squad clocked a season-best time of 39.64, an improvement of .11 seconds on their previous best and the 10th-fastest time in school history.

In the 1,500 meter finals, juniors Julius Bor and Joel Rop finished fourth and 11th with times of 3:51.86 and 3:53.96, respectively.

Junior Fred Samoei, in his first SEC Championship finals experience, finished third in a fast and very close 800 meter race. Samoei clocked a lifetime-best time of 1:47.15, bettering his previous best by well over a second. He was just .34 seconds behind the champion, Richard Jones of LSU. Samoei finished with the fifth-fastest time in the country and moved up to fourth in the all-time Alabama record books.

The Tide gained six more points to add to the team total in the high jump. Sophomore Tyler Campbell, fourth at last year's SEC Championships, placed fourth again with leap of 6-10 3/4. Freshman Mike Edwards tied for seventh, clearing the bar set at 6-8 3/4. Campbell and Edwards were fifth and sixth, respectively, at the indoor conference meet earlier this year.

In the last event of the weekend, the 4x400 meter relay, the squad of freshman Fabian Norgrove, sophomore Aaron Stockstell, James and Watson combined for a season-best time of 3:06.49 to finish fifth.

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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