May 2, 2014
THE MEET: The Alabama track and field team competes in its final regular season meet of the outdoor season when it travels to Starkville, Miss., for the Jace Lacoste Invitational on the Mississippi State campus this Friday-Saturday, May 3-4. The meet begins with the women's pole vault and hammer throw Friday at 6 p.m. CT. Saturday's action starts at noon with the men's and women's long jump. Track events begin at 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday with the women's 4x100-meter relay.
THE VENUE: The Jace Lacoste Invitational is hosted at the Carl Maddox Track at W.O. Spencer Stadium, on the campus of Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss. Dedicated in 1982, W.O. Spencer Stadium is named in honor of one of Mississippi State's all-time athletic greats. The Carl Maddox Track at W.O. Spencer Stadium received a state-of-the-art renovation in 2011.
FOLLOWING THE ACTION: Follow action for the Jace Lacoste Invitational 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: Competing against dozens of teams from across the country, Alabama racked up a pair of event victories and 15 top-5 finishes at the Mt. SAC Invitational in Walnut, Calif., on April 17-19. Diondre Batson (men's elite 100-meter dash) and Merilyn Uudmae (women's collegiate triple jump) won events during the three day meet hosted at Mt. San Antonio College.
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 sixth at the NCAA Outdoor meet in the magazine's fourth NCAA Formchart released April 22. Diondre Batson is projected to finish second in the 100 meters and the 200 meters, while the men's 4x100-meter relay team is projected to place fourth. Other projected high finishers by the magazine are Kamal Fuller in the long jump (sixth), Elias Hakansson in the hammer (fourth) and Hayden Reed in the discus (ninth). Overall the Tide is forecast to score 29 points as a team in the magazine's fourth form chart guess regarding the June meet.
BATSON BACK AT IT: Senior sprinter Diondre Batson started his outdoor season less than a month ago but has already made his presence felt by picking up event victories in each of his first three meets of the season. Batson won the men's elite 100-meter dash at the Mt. SAC Relays with a wind-legal time of 10.06, the fifth-best time in school history. Batson won the 100 meters at the Border Clash on April 12 with a wind-aided time of 10.01, which leads the nation. Batson won the men's 200-meter dash at the Crimson Tide Invitational with a wind-legal 20.49, which ranks sixth in school history and 14th nationally.
HAKANSSON LEADS SEC IN HAMMER: Elias Hakansson re-set the UA hammer throw record on March 20 at the John Mitchell Alabama Relays in Tuscaloosa. Hakansson's mark of 234-2 currently ranks first in the SEC in the hammer throw and is third in the nation, behind USC's Remy Conaster (238-8) and Kent State's Matthias Tayala (235-1).
FONDREN SOARS TO NEW HEIGHTS: Sophomore Justin Fondren set a new PR in the high jump at the Crimson Tide Invitational by clearing 7-3 (2.21 meters) to win the event. The mark is tied for eighth in the nation, and is third in the SEC behind Mississippi's Ricky Robertson (7-6, 2.29 meters) and Arkansas's Anthony May (7-3 3/4, 2.23 meters). Since then, Fondren has picked up his fourth win of the year at the Border Clash and finished second at the Mt. SAC Relays, clearing 7-0 1/4 at both meets.
BURKS MAKING HER MARK: Freshman Quanesha Burks was the top collegiate finisher in the women's long jump at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 18. Burks' mark, a personal record of 20 feet, 4.25 inches, is tied for sixth-best in school history and ranks ninth nationally. Burks won the women's long jump at the Crimson Tide Invitational on April 5 by jumping 19-11, and her mark of 6.19 meters (20-3.75) at the Yellow Jacket Invitational is tied for seventh-best in school history.
REED NAMED SEC FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK: Redshirt freshman Hayden Reed was named the SEC Track and Field Men's Freshman of the Week on Tuesday, April 15. Reed earned the honor by carding a pair of marks at the Border Clash in Tuscaloosa on Friday, April 11, that make him the top-ranked freshman in Division I in both the men's discus and the men's shot put. Reed won both events at the Border Clash, posting a personal-best performance of 60.68 meters (199 feet, 1 inch) in the discus, a mark that ranks third all-time in Crimson Tide history, while improving his personal best by more than five feet from his prior PR set one week earlier and giving him a victory for the third consecutive meet. Reed also won the shot put with an effort that ranks sixth all-time in Alabama history at 18.68m (61-3.50). In the discus, Reed established the lead on his first throw, an effort of 58.65, before getting the clincher on his second toss and fouling on the subsequent four tries. In the shot put, Reed put up an impressive and consistent series of throws: 17.35/56-11.25; 17.74/58-2.50; 18.01/59-1.25; 18.28/59-11.75; and 18.68/61-3.50. In total, Reed has six wins on the year (three discus titles, three shot put titles).
BURCHELL ON BOWERMAN 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.
10 INDOOR ALL-AMERICANS: 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: Prior to the 2014 outdoor season, Batson had 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 (Texas - 4, Alabama - 3, 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 take place 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: The Crimson Tide is off for two weeks until Alabama competes at the SEC Outdoor Championships at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., Thursday-Sunday, May 15-18.