Crimson Tide Track & Field At SEC Indoor Championships This Thursday Through Saturday



Feb. 26, 2014


THE MEET: The Alabama track and field team travels to College Station, Texas, for the 2014 SEC Indoor Championships. The championships run Thursday, Feb. 27, through Saturday, March 1. Action starts Thursday with the men's and women's multi events.

THE VENUE: This year Texas A&M University hosts the SEC Indoor Championships at the Gilliam Indoor Stadium. Named for 1980 graduates Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam, the facility is equipped with a six-lane, 200-meter hydraulically banked track. Opened in 2009, the stadium seats 4,100. The venue has hosted two NCAA Indoor Championships (2009 and 2011) and two Big 12 Championships (2009 and 2012).

FOLLOWING THE ACTION: Follow this week's action in real-time via and via social media by following @AlabamaTrack on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. General athletic news can also be found @UA_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram and AlabamaAthletics on Facebook. The meet will also be streamed live on on Thursday, while ESPN3 will carry the action on Friday (1:55 p.m. Central Time - 6:35 p.m.) and Saturday (12:50 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.). On-air talent includes Dwight Stones (play-by-play), Larry Rawson (analyst) and Lewis Johnson (sideline reporter). Following the conclusion of the championships, there will be part of a 90-minute show on ESPNU on Monday, March 10, beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT.

LAST TIME OUT: On the weekend of Feb. 14-15, the Alabama track and field team won three events at the Tyson Invitational, and garnered 15 top-five finishes. A total of 15 performances at the meet placed in the school's all-time top 10 lists.

IN HIS OWN WORDS: Alabama head coach Dan Waters on the outlook for this week: "I think we've set ourselves up for success at this meet, it's what we've been working toward and we are excited. We've improved with each meet this season, across the board in everything. We usually compete the same way we practice. Indoor track can be a little different due to the vagaries of indoor facilities, but this is an outstanding facility we are going to compete in this week, maybe the best in the nation for producing good performances. We're excited and ready to go."

MEN RANKED IN USTFCCCA POLL: The men's track & field team is ranked 12th in this week's edition of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division I National Team Computer Rankings released Tuesday. The Tide men maintained their No. 2 ranking in this week's South Region rankings while the Alabama women remained No. 5 in the South Region team survey. Overall, competing at the SEC Indoor Championships will be 15 ranked teams (7 men, 8 women). Joining No. 12 Alabama in the men's rankings are No. 1 Arkansas, No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Texas A&M, No. 11 Mississippi State, No. 15 LSU, No. 20 Mississippi and No. 24 Georgia.

RANKINGS RUNDOWN: The Alabama men started the season ranked No. 24 in the preseason USTFCCCA poll. Below is a breakdown of the movement in the polls:

Preseason No. 24
Jan. 28 No. 17
Feb. 4 No. 10
Feb. 11 No. 11
Feb. 18 No. 11
Feb. 25 No. 12

2014 HIGHLIGHTS: Entering the championship portion of the 2014 indoor season, Alabama athletes have produced 48 performances that rank in UA's all-time top 10 (31 in men's and 17 in women's). 18 Alabama athletes (12 men, 6 women) currently rank in the top 10 of the SEC in their respective events.

TIDE'S HISTORY AT THE SEC INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS: In its 57-year history, the Alabama men have captured five SEC Indoor titles (1958, 1959, 1961, 1962 and 1972). Arkansas leads all teams with 19 championships, while Tennessee (18) and Florida (six) are the other two teams that have more titles than the Crimson Tide. The Alabama women have one SEC Indoor championship (1994) in the 30-year history of the championships.

PAINE LOOKS TO DEFEND HER 2013 SEC CHAMPIONSHIP: Senior pole vaulter Alexis Paine will be defending her 2013 SEC Indoor Championship crown. Last year at Fayetteville, Ark., Paine cleared 13-8 1/2 feet to capture top honors. In 2014 she has recorded the top mark in the SEC at 14-3 1/2. Competitors this weekend include Georgia junior Morgann Leleux, whose top mark of 14-2 ranks second in the conference, and who is the only other SEC woman to clear 14 feet this year. Sophomore Arial Voskamp of Arkansas 13-11 1/4 currently ranks third in the SEC.

BATSON'S 60 METERS: So far this season, sprinter Diondre Batson has registered three of the top 10 times in Alabama history. While winning the event at the Indiana Relays, Batson ran a 6.61 in the finals, which is the 10th fastest time in the nation and third fastest time in the SEC in 2014.

BATSON ONE OF USA'S TOP SPRINTERS: Sprinter Diondre Batson finished 2013 ranked as the USA's eighth-ranked 100-meters sprinter according to Track & Field News magazine's January 2014 issue. The list included all athletes regardless for classification or professional status. Joining Batson in the top 10 was Crimson Tide volunteer assistant coach Mookie Salaam, who ranked sixth.

BURCHELL RUNS BAMA'S FASTEST 60 IN 8 YEARS: Newcomer Remona Burchell ran a 7.27 in the 60-meter dash at the Tyson Invitational on Feb. 14. The time ranks third in Alabama history, while it is second in the conference and is sixth in the nation.

ITALIAN IMPACT: Newcomer Jacopo Lahbi has competed in only three collegiate meets for Alabama, has already made an impact. After his second-place finish in the 800 meters at the Rod McCravy Memorial in January, Lahbi was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Jan. 28. Lahbi's seasonal best 800-meter time of 1:48.77 is the third-fastest in UA indoor history and is currently the 14th time in the country and the sixth in the SEC.

MALCOLM'S MAGNIFICENT 800 TIME: Senior Yanique Malcolm (Kingston, Jamaica) ran her first 800 of the year at the Rod McCravy Memorial in January and, in the process, she clocked the 25th-fastest time in the nation in 2014 and the fourth fastest time in the SEC (2:06.58), the third-fastest in UA history. Malcolm currently holds three of the top five times in Crimson Tide record books.

AIROLA CRACKS UA TOP-5 MILE TIME: Distance runner Matt Airola ran the fifth-fastest mile time in Crimson Tide indoor history to open the 2014 season at the Auburn Invitational on Jan. 18, the fastest time by an Alabama runner since 2008 (Emmanuel Bor). The junior from Altaville, Calif., ran 4:02.24, breaking his previous personal best by 12.24 seconds.

GREEN PRODUCING STANDOUT DEBUT SEASON: In his collegiate debut on Jan. 18, freshman Jeremiah Green made an immediate impact by winning the Auburn Invitational triple jump. His mark of 52-6 1/2 (16.01 meters) broke the facility record at the Birmingham Crossplex and ranked as the fifth-longest triple jump in UA indoor history and the longest in Alabama history by a freshman. Entering this weekend's SEC Championships, Green has tied for the second-longest jump in the SEC with the seventh longest mark in the nation. At the time, Green's jump was the eighth-longest in the world this year, according to

PAINE CONTINUES ASSUALT ON UA RECORD BOOK: In two years of competing in the pole vault senior vaulter Alexis Paine has re-written the Tide's records in the event. Paine now holds the top eight marks in Crimson Tide history, including last weekend at the Samford Multi Invitational, where Paine cleared 14-3 1/2 (4.35 meters), the first time a UA athlete has cleared 14 feet. Paine's mark is tied for fifth best in the nation and she ranks first in the SEC.

HAKANSSON AND RICHARDSON REIGN IN WEIGHT THROW: After sophomore Elias Hakansson (Halmstad, Sweden) re-set the Alabama indoor record in the weight throw Jan. 18 at the Auburn Invitational, junior Charodd Richardson (Blakely, Ga.) raised him by throwing the three of the top five marks at the Indiana Relays, including breaking Hakansson's top mark with a throw of 69-7 1/2. The duo currently rank 1-2 in SEC performances this year, and the two check in at 11th and 12th nationally.

MEN LOOK TO RETURNING ALL-AMERICANS IN 2014: Looking to build off of its 2013 indoor success, the Crimson Tide is led by several returning athletes. On the men's side, indoor All-American Diondre Batson looks to improve on his NCAA eighth-place finish in the 200 meters. Sophomore Elias Hakansson is looking to improve a third-place finish in the weight throw at the SEC Indoor Championships.

GREENLEAF AND PANAGIOTOU EARN USTFCCCA ALL-ACADEMIC HONORS: University of Alabama track and field/cross country sophomores Katelyn Greenleaf and Meropi Panagiotou are two of 129 women in Division I who earned United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) All-Academic honors for the 2013 cross country season, the USTFCCCA announced on Friday, Feb. 14. Honorees must have compiled a cumulative GPA or 3.25 or greater and must have finished as an All-American or among the 15 finishers (or 10 percent) in their regional meet. Greenleaf, a sophomore from St. Petersburg, Fla. (Northside Christian High School) has a 3.83 grade-point average in Nutrition at the Capstone while Panagiotou, a sophomore from Nicosia, Cyprus (Koutsofta-Panayide) boasts a 3.86 GPA in Fashion Design. To qualify for the honor, both Greenleaf and Panagiotou finished among the top 10 percent of competitors at the 2013 NCAA South Region meet in November. The ACC led the way with 18 total honorees, followed by the Big East with 16 and the Pac-12 and SEC with 15 each.

TIDE ADDS 19 WITH 2014 SIGNING CLASS: Head coach Dan Waters announced on Feb. 6 that 19 student-athletes will join the Crimson Tide track and field program for the 2014-15 season. Among the signees are nine recruits on the women's side and 10 newcomers to the men's squad. Ten of the signees are currently considered among the national leaders in their events and the class includes student-athletes across the full spectrum of disciplines: eight distance runners, six sprinters (three of whom are also hurdlers), four throwers and one pole vaulter. Signees come from eight states (Alabama - 3, Texas - 4, Florida - 3, New York - 1, Georgia - 1, Louisiana - 1, Utah - 1, Tennessee - 1) and one foreign country (Australia - 1). During the early signing period, UA signed Tony Brown II, Dominique Kimpel and Lacopo Lahbi. The three are currently competing for the Crimson Tide.

UA SPANS THE GLOBE: Included on the 2014 roster are 10 athletes from six countries other than the United States. Four Crimson Tide athletes call Jamaica home (Kamal Fuller, Candicea Bernard, Remona Burchell and Yanique Malcolm), while two hail from Canada (Akeem Haynes and Hilary Stafford). Elias Hakansson is from Sweden, while newcomer Jacopo Lahbi resided in Italy. Meropi Panagiotou hails from Cyprus and Merilyn Uudmae is from Estonia.

YOUTHFUL LINEUP: Alabama has a young roster in 2014. Of the 82 on the roster, 59 are underclassmen (72 percent). Only 13 athletes are seniors. The breakdown of classifications: 23 freshmen/6 redshirt freshmen/30 sophomore/10 junior/13 senior.

WHEY THEY COME FROM: UA's 2014 track and field squad represents 21 states. The largest contingent is from Alabama, with 22 athletes. The breakdown is as follows: Florida 7; Texas 7; Georgia 5; Tennessee 5; California 4; Pennsylvania 4; Illinois 3; Iowa 2; Virginia 2; Arkansas 1; Colorado 1; Kansas 1; Maryland 1; Massachusetts 1; Mississippi 1; Missouri 1; New Jersey 1; North Carolina 1; South Carolina 1; Wisconsin 1.

RECAPPING THE 2013 INDOOR SEASON: UA sent five athletes to the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships last year. Three of the five return to the team this year including Diondre Batson (200 meters); Kamal Fuller (long jump); and Alexis Paine (pole vault). As a team, the men finished tied for 32nd (six points) and the women finished tied for 46th (three points) last year at the NCAAs, which were hosted in Fayetteville, Ark.

ROAD TO ALBUQUERQUE: The 2014 NCAA Division I National Championships will be hosted in Albuquerque, N.M. this year at the Albuquerque Convention Center, March 14-15. The SEC Indoor Championships will be hosted by Texas A&M on Feb. 27-March 1 in College Station, Texas.

UP NEXT: The Crimson Tide is off next week, but will travel to Albuquerque, N.M., for the NCAA Indoor Championships that run March 14-15.

Get all the latest information on the team by following @AlabamaTrack on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. General athletic news can also be found at UA_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram and AlabamaAthletics on Facebook.