June 7, 2013
EUGENE, Ore. -
The Alabama track and field team earned a pair of individual fourth place finishes on the third day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships being held in Eugene, Ore., at Hayward Field this week.
"We had another great day," UA head coach Dan Waters said. "Everybody is competing so hard and it shows. That's one of the things that I really like about this team. They set the tone - they go out there and compete hard at every meet, I mean every single time out."
Junior Diondre Batson blazed to another career-best time in the finals of the 100-meters, crossing the line at 10.01 to take fourth place. With his finish, he becomes the first Crimson Tide to score in the 100m at the NCAA Championships since Emmitt King and Calvin Smith in 1983, reigniting the Tide's sprint fortunes in the process.
"It was an impressive run," Waters said. "He went out there and just gutted it out. I'm more than happy with the way he's competed so far."
Batson also passed King, the 1983 NCAA 100m champion, for second all-time at Alabama, standing just behind Olympian and world record holder Calvin Smith. Since joining Alabama for the spring semester in January, Batson has shaved nearly a tenth of a second off his career-best 100m time.
"At Alabama, we have great coaches, great facilities - everything is making it easy for me to run fast," Batson said.
Senior Alexis Paine cleared her first four heights on her first attempt before topping out at 14 feet and 3 ¼ inches, earning fourth place, the highest individual national finish of her career.
"I wish I had gotten over that last height, but I cleared every other bar on the first attempt, so I have to be happy," Paine said. "I took a spill a few weeks ago, so it was nice to come back from that, and clearing all those heights on the first attempt was confidence booster."
When Waters and the new coaching staff came in prior to Paine's junior season, she changed her focus to the pole vault and the results speak for themselves. With one indoor season left, she has bettered the school record numerous times, scored at two NCAA Outdoor Championships and the 2013 NCAA Indoor meet.
"As an athlete, Alexis has made amazing strides from where she is now from where she started when we got to Alabama," Waters said. "She's a super person and an amazing competitor, and she's courageous, which is all you can ask from any athletes.
The Tide's other competitor on the day, freshman Justin Fondren, took 13th in the high jump with a mark of 7 feet and ½ inch after coming into the meet seeded 20th.
"I was really proud of the way Justin went out there and competed hard," Water said. "This week and this experience gives him a great foundation going forward."
Alabama's men are currently in 23rd place with nine points while the women, on the strength of Paine's five points, are in 32nd place.
On Saturday, the final day of the championship, Batson, junior Alex Sanders, junior Akeem Haynes and senior Dushane Farrier will race for a national title in the 4x100m relay while freshman Imani Brown will compete in the triple jump. The UA women finish off the meet with seniors Krystle Schade and Wilamena Hopkins in the high jump and shot put, respectively.
"I can't say enough good things about our meet so far," Waters said. "Now we just have to close it out on Saturday."