Alabama Track & Field Hosts Inaugural "Border Clash" on Friday

April 10, 2014

THE MEET: The Alabama track and field team continues its current home stand, hosting its final home meet of the season, The Border Clash meet, a cooperative team scoring meet in which several Alabama schools compete as one team against schools from the state of Mississippi. Action is slated to begin Friday, April 11 with the women's weight throw at 10:30 a.m. CT, while the track events will get underway at 4:45 p.m. Alabama teams up with Auburn and Samford to take on Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.

THE VENUE: The Crimson Tide hosts the final of three 2014 home meets this Saturday at the Sam Bailey Track and Field Stadium. The facility was renovated in 2013. Work included the installation of a new surface that features wider turns that promise faster times in long sprints. The $4.7 million renovation also features a new building to house timekeepers, renovations to the press box and drastic improvements for the fan's game day experience.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION: Follow action for the Crimson Tide Invitational in real-time via branchsportstech.com 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.

LAST TIME OUT: Alabama track and field team won 18 events and set seven meet records while winning the men's team title on Saturday, April 5, at the Crimson Tide Invitational in Tuscaloosa. The Alabama's men's team netted 11 event victories and finished first in the team standings with 165 points while Penn State scored 115 points to finish second, and Louisville placed third with 86 points. The Alabama women earned a runner-up finish with seven event victories and 125 points while Penn State topped the women's team standings with 164.5 points and Florida State took third with 74 points.

COACH WATERS ON THIS WEEK'S MEET: How long has the Border Clash been a meet and how did it get started? "This is the first Border Clash. It came about as an idea that I had to increase interest in our program, as well as those at several other schools in the Alabama-Mississippi region. When I discussed it with other coaches they were very receptive and enthused. It's another chance for the competing schools to showcase their teams in an event with a concise championship-style evening using an action-packed schedule of events. It's the type of meet we feel most of college track and field should be having - something appealing to fans while also including a unique cooperative feel among schools that normally merely compete against each other."

How many of your athletes will compete in this weekend and what will be the events/athletes to watch? "We expect virtually our entire team to compete. All events will be exciting because we expect this meet to be very evenly balanced so each run, jump or throw will have a critical impact on the team totals. The team scoring could be very tight. I can easily anticipate the meet coming down to who wins the final event of the evening, the 4x400 relay, determining which team will take home the title."

What are you expecting out of the meet for your team? "It's another chance to raise our level as we approach the championship portion of our schedule in a few weeks, just like last week. Also like last week, the quality of competition should be conducive to our athletes putting up some good performances and raising their game a bit."

How do you think your team has done so far this season? "I've been pleased so far because we've come out with the right mental mindset each time and we've followed it up with good performances. This is still the developmental part of the schedule, so we are still a work in progress. But I like what I have seen so far and I am excited about the possibilities of our team."

What will be the biggest challenge that Alabama will face this weekend? "I foresee our biggest challenge being the ability to focus on this meet and this competition. That will determine how well we do. It is a slightly different circumstance for us as a team because we will have had a short week between competitions, so it will be essential to have the proper focus on the process of getting better this weekend, instead of thinking of what happened last or what will happen at the end of the season. We need to be in the moment to be at our best."

Your athletes keep reaching new PRs almost every week it seems like, how do you prepare your team to keep progressing and improving upon the successes? "That is just an indication of the teaching by our coaches over a long period of time. We have an excellent staff that is experienced and knows how to develop talent. We also have good kids that are very coachable and they help each other stay on task. They compete with each other each day, but they also help each other."

IN THE RANKINGS: The Alabama men's team is ranked 9th in the April 8th edition of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Division I National Team Computer Rankings. The No. 9 ranking is the tied for the highest ranking ever attained by the Crimson Tide in the seven-year history of the rankings (also ranked No. 9 the second week of 2008 outdoor season). The national team rankings are compiled by mathematical formulae based on national descending order lists and data taken from previous seasons. The purpose and methodology of the rankings is to create an index that showcases the teams that have the best potential of achieving the top spots in the national team race. Rankings points do not equate with NCAA Championships team points.

PROJECTING WELL: After a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships, the Alabama men's team is projected by Track & Field News magazine to place fifth at the NCAA Outdoor meet in the magazine's first NCAA Form chart released March 27. Diondre Batson is projected to win the 200 meters and finish second in the 100 meters while Jacopo Lahbi is currently forecast to finish eighth in the 800. Other projected high finishers by the magazine are the 4x100-meter relay (fourth), Kamal Fuller in the long jump (fifth), Jeremiah Green in the triple jump (fifth) and Elias Hakansson in the hammer (third). Overall the Tide is forecast to score 38 points as a team in the magazine's first form chart guess regarding the June meet.

BURCHELL NAMED TO BOWERMAN AWARD LIST: Junior sprinter Remona Burchell has been named as one of 10 elite women's track and field student-athletes recognized on The Bowerman Trophy Women's Preseason Watch List, announced prior to the start of the outdoor season. Burchell, a native of Montego Bay, Jamaica, has burst into prominence in her first year at Alabama after a standout career at Barton County Community College in Kansas. On March 15 she won the national title at 60 meters in a 2014 collegiate-best 7.11 at the NCAA Division I Indoor Championships by .01 over rival Watch List member Dezerea Bryant of Kentucky, moving her up to No. 3 on the all-time collegiate performers list and equal to No. 8 on the 2014 world list.

HAKANSSON LEADS SEC IN HAMMER: Elias Hakansson re-set the UA hammer throw on March 20 at the John Mitchell Alabama Relays in Tuscaloosa while he competed in his only outdoor meet to date. Hakansson's mark of 234-2 currently ranks first in the SEC in the hammer throw and is second in the nation, behind USC's Remy Conaster (238-8).

REED'S HOT START: Redshirt freshman Hayden Reed captured another win at the Crimson Tide Invitational last weekend, bringing his win total for the year to four. Reed won the discus throw and in the process set a new PR with a throw of 193-10, a mark that ranks fifth in UA history. Reed's 193-10 currently ranks 12th in the nation, and third in the SEC.

FONDREN SOARS TO NEW HEIGHTS: Sophomore Justin Fondren set a new PR in the high jump at the Crimson Tide Invitational by clearing a height of 7-3 (2.21 meters) and in the process captured his third win of the year. The mark is tied for third in the nation, and is second in the SEC behind NCAA-leader Ricky Robertson (7-6, 2.29 meters).

BURKS MAKING HER MARK: Freshman Quanesha Burks took home another title in the women's long jump last weekend at the Crimson Tide Invitational by jumping 19-11. The previous week she set with a personal-best mark of 6.19 (20-3.75), tied for seventh-best in school history, and Burks is tied for 17th nationally.

10 UA ATHLETES EARN ALL-AMERICA HONORS FOR INDOOR PERFORMANCES: Ten University of Alabama track and field athletes who competed at the 2014 NCAA Division I Indoor Track & Field Championships earned All-America honors based on their performances, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced. The 10 athletes combined for a total of 11 All-America citations overall, including five first-team honors by four athletes led by sprinter Diondre Batson earning first-team honors both for his victory in the 200 meters and his third-place finish in the 60-meter dash. Other first-team honorees included women's 60-meter dash national champion Remona Burchell, Jeremiah Green (men's triple jump) and Elias Hakansson (men's weight throw). Six athletes earned second-team All-America honors: Kyle Felpel (men's shot put), Kamal Fuller (men's long jump), Jacopo Lahbi (men's 800 meters), Yanique Malcolm (women's 800 meters), Alexis Paine (women's pole vault) and Charodd Richardson (men's weight throw). First-team honors were given to those who placed in the championships' top eight in an event or were a member of an eight-person final. Second-team honors were earned by those who finished between ninth and 16th place. In addition, 14 men and four women earned honorable mention honors. Overall, the Southeastern Conference led the way in total first-team honorees both in the men's (39) and women's (65) competitions, with the Pac-12 both second in both with 38 and 31 respectively.

GREEN NAMED SEC FRESHMAN FIELD ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Freshman triple jumper Jeremiah Green (Tampa, Fla.) is the 2014 Southeastern Conference Men's Freshman Field Athlete of the Year for indoor track by virtue of a vote of the league's head coaches. Green is the first Alabama athlete to be voted the SEC's Freshman Field Athlete of the Year. At the SEC Indoor Championships, Green was one of three Alabama athletes to win SEC titles in individual events as he won the triple jump with a personal-best mark of 16.29 meters (53 feet, 5.5 inches), an improvement of 11 inches over his previous personal career best. In doing so, Green became Alabama's first SEC indoor triple jump champion since 1978 and only the second in Alabama history.

BATSON RACKS UP THE HONORS: Sprinter Diondre Batson is expected to make his 2014 outdoor season debut this Saturday at the Crimson Tide Invitational, but he has already made quite an impact on the Alabama track and field program. In the 2014 indoor season, Batson captured an SEC title in the 60 meter sprint, and then took home an NCAA championship in the 200 meters, by running the fastest time in the nation. Batson holds four of the top 10 marks in UA history in the 60 meters indoors, and eight of the top 10 marks in the indoor 200 meters. Batson also has produced seven of the top 10 marks in Tide history in the 100 meters and four of the top 10 marks in the 200 meters.

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.

WRAPPING UP INDOORS: The Crimson Tide finished off the 2014 indoor season in style at the NCAA Indoor Championships, as the men finished sixth and the women tied for 19th. Diondre Batson broke two school records (60 meters, 6.54, and 200 meters, 20.32) and captured an NCAA championship in the 200 meters, running the fastest collegiate time in 2014. On the women's side, junior college transfer Remona Burchell clocked the fastest UA 60-meter time in history and won Alabama's first women's title in the 60 meters. Alabama's men racked up 20 points in the meet to tie Oklahoma State for sixth in the team standings, the best by an Alabama men's team since 2002, when the Tide finished fourth, and the seventh men's top 10 finish at the indoor championships in school history. Burchell picked up all 10 points for the Alabama women's team, propelling the Tide to a 19th-place team finish and its first top 20 finish on the women's side since 1995.

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 2014-15. Among the signees were 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 Jacopo Lahbi, all three of whom 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 81 on the roster, 59 are underclassmen (73 percent). Only 13 athletes are seniors. The breakdown of classifications: 23 freshmen/6 redshirt freshmen/30 sophomores/10 juniors/12 seniors.

WHERE THEY COME FROM: UA's 2014 track and field squad represents 21 states. The largest contingent is from Alabama, with 21 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 OUTDOOR SEASON: Alabama landed its highest team finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 11 years by finishing 11th in 2013. The men were led by 100-meter SEC champion Diondre Batson and a 4x100-meter relay team that finished second.

RETURNING ALL-AMERICANS: The Crimson Tide returns six first team All-Americans from the outdoor team that finished 11th at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships including Diondre Batson (100 meters and 4x100-meter relays team), Imani Brown (triple jump), Kamal Fuller (long jump), Elias Hakansson (hammer throw), Akeem Haynes (4x100-meter relay team) and Alex Sanders (4x100-meter relay team). The Tide also returns five second-team All-Americans including Batson (200 meters), Dwight Davis (4x400-meter relay team), Justin Fondren (high jump), Quincy Smith (4x400-meter relay team) and Ken Taylor (4x400-meter relay team).

ROAD TO EUGENE: The 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships will be hosted at historic Hayward Field, June 11-14 in Eugene, Ore., on the campus of the University of Oregon. Qualifying for the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships will occur May 30-31 at the NCAA East Regional in Jacksonville, Fla.

UP NEXT: Alabama hits the road next weekend and travels to Walnut Creek, Calif., for the Mt. SAC Relays. The relays will run from Thursday, April 17, to Saturday, April 19.