June 5, 2013
EUGENE, Ore. -
The Alabama track and field team opened up day one of the NCAA Outdoor Championships by posting school-record 38.78 in the semifinals of the 4x100-meter relay, advancing to Saturday's finals in the event.
Junior Alex Sanders, sophomore Diondre Batson, junior Akeem Haynes and senior Dushane Farrier combined to finish second in their heat, just two hundredths of a second behind Auburn and easily well ahead of the rest of the pack.
Batson came back later in the evening to run in the semifinals of the 100m, posting a 10.05, the fifth fastest time of the day, and advancing to Friday's finals.
"It was a great first day for us," UA head coach Dan Water said. "We were able to cross the school record in the 4x100m relay off our list of team goals and both of our entries moved on to finals, which is what today was all about for us. Now we just need to keep it rolling."
The previous 4x100m mark was set in 1990, well before three of the four members of the current speed kings were born. Farrier, the fourth member of the current record holding relay and the lone senior, was six months old when Richard Beattie, Clive Wright, Eduardo Nava and Brad McCuaig posted a 38.87 to win the 1990 NCAA 4x100m title.
The top three qualifiers for the finals - Southeastern Conference rivals Alabama, Auburn and Florida - finished within two hundredths of a second of each other. LSU and Arkansas will join the Tide, Tigers and Gators to give the SEC five of the eight teams in the final in the 4x100m final.
"We've been running fast all year," Sanders, the Tide's leadoff, said "We've had a couple of good runs before this, but it felt good to get out there and check something off our list today. Our coach had some goals for us and we knocked one of those off by getting the school record, so that felt good."
The new record holders are far from satisfied with their fast start and are looking for more come the finals.
"That was definitely a nice run for us, but we can definitely do more with our exchanges and just running to our full potential," Sanders said. "It's all up from here."
Sprint coach Matt Kane echoes that sentiment.
"We left a little bit on the table still," Kane said. "We can clean up some of our exchanges, just a little bit. It's definitely the best we've run, there's still room there for improvement."
For Baton, a poor start in the 100m meant he had to dig deep to grab a spot in the finals. Despite that fact, he still turned in a personal best, just one-hundredth of a second behind Emmit King's 1983 time of 10.04, which ranks second all-time at Alabama.
"It was exciting today," Batson said. "Making it to the finals is always what you want out of a day like today. it's a great atmosphere and a great stadium, I like running here, it makes you want to run fast. There are things that could have gone better today, but it's ok, that's why it's a round and not a final."
Kane also sees plenty of room for Batson to improve come Friday.
"He had a terrible start," Kane said. "He didn't execute very well in the first 30 meters and put himself in a bad position, but he's talented enough to overcome that and he did and he advanced which is what today is about."
Batson returns to action on Thursday with the semifinals of the 200m while the 4x400m relay - junior Joel Lynch, freshman Dwight Davis, freshman Quincy Smith and junior Ken Taylor - will also compete. In the field events, freshman Elias Hakansson will compete in the hammer throw while junior All-American Kamal Fuller will compete in the long jump.