Men's Relay Team Just Misses Finals

EUGENE, Ore. – With the largest crowd ever in attendance for the second day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships with 11,172 fans on Thursday, the Alabama men's track and field team competed in only one event, the 4x400 meter relay semifinal, at historic Hayward Field.

Though the 4x400 meter relay was the only event for Alabama on Thursday, the Tide squad of freshman Fabian Norgrove, sophomore Aaron Stockstell, freshman Kirani James and senior Matt Watson made sure to make it entertaining – as the relay competition always is.

Alabama finished third in the first of three heats with a time of 3:07.22, leaving it up to the next two heats to run a slower time as only the top two times advance to the final after the top two in each heat are removed – the top two in each heat automatically advance.

By the third leg, Alabama was in seventh in their heat, but it wouldn't stay that way once James took the handoff. Even though James had to leap over a fallen athlete at the beginning of his leg to avoid falling himself, he picked off nearly every team as he sprinted around the oval to an enormous roar from the capacity crowd, handing off the baton in third place – the squad's eventual finish.

The time looked as if it would hold up as the second heat only had one team faster, but the third and final heat had five teams post times faster than the Tide. Alabama finished 10th in the semifinal, just .57 seconds out of qualifying.

The Alabama men's team will conclude its competition in Track Town USA when it returns to Hayward Field on Friday as junior Fred Samoei competes in the 800 meter final at 5:40 p.m. PDT (7:40 central time) and James competes in the 400 meter final at 6:25 p.m. PDT (8:25 central). Both events will be aired live on CBS College Sports as the championships will be broadcast from 7-9 p.m. (CT).

On the women's side, senior Chealsea Taylor led the Alabama women's track and field team once again as she earned All-America honors in the heptathlon, finishing third with 5,617 points. It is Taylor's second All-America honor on the weekend as she had also garnered the honor Wednesday night in the open high jump competition.

This was only Taylor's second season competing in the heptathlon and just her sixth heptathlon competition ever. Taylor won the high jump and 200 meter events in the heptathlon. At last year's outdoor championships, Taylor finished 19th with a score of 5,138 points.

With the addition of the heptathlon All-America accolade, Taylor became the first Alabama female student-athlete to garner two All-America honors in one NCAA Outdoor Championship meet since Beth Mallory accomplished the feat in 2005 in the discus and hammer throws. The Denver, Colo., native is also just the second Crimson Tide heptathlon performer to earn All-America honors in school history – Yutta Shelton in 1985.

In her last time wearing an Alabama uniform, Taylor came just 55 points from breaking the heptathlon school record – her school record. Taylor set a new heptathlon school record at this year's SEC Championships, breaking a 25-year-old record with 5,672 points.

After day one of the heptathlon, Taylor held a slim lead over defending champion and hometown favorite, Oregon's Brianne Theisen, by a score of 3,619 to 3,615 points.

The first event in the heptathlon competition on day two was the long jump, in which Taylor leaped a season-best 18-3 (-0.8) into a small headwind. Unfortunately, Theisen was able to win the event with the help of the wind, jumping a mark of 20-0 1/4 (+2.6) to catapult her into the lead with two events remaining.

The javelin event saw Taylor heave a mark of 103-4, finishing 16th in the event, but she stayed in second place overall with one remaining.

In the final event, the 800 meters, Taylor clocked a season-best time of 2:23.58 to finish 14th. She was just .38 seconds off her lifetime-best.

In the final heptathlon standings, Theisen successfully defended her NCAA title with 6,094 points – the most points scored since 1997 (Tiffany Lott of BYU). Maryland's Kiani Profit was second with 5,682 points, while Taylor followed closely in third with 5,617 points.

In the 100 meter hurdles, junior Kim Laing advanced to the final with a wind-aided time of 13.04 (+2.5). Laing, who finished second in her heat to qualify for the Saturday final automatically, advances with the fifth-fastest time of the meet.

Laing is the first Alabama student-athlete to make the 100 meter hurdle final since Brandit Copper in 2000 – Copper would go on to finish fifth.

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