The University of Alabama track and field team begins competition at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships with competitors in the long jump and pole vault on Wednesday afternoon in Des Moines, Iowa.
Sophomore Kamal Fuller and junior Alexis Paine will both be making their first appearance at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the men's long jump and women's pole vault, respectively. Both are slated to begin competition at 5:30 p.m. CDT inside Des Moines' Drake Stadium.
"The athletes that have made it this far have done exactly what we've asked of them, which is learning to compete and get the job done," UA head coach Dan Waters said. "Hopefully this meet will draw something special out of them. Physically, they're as ready as they can be and the coaches have done a fantastic job of preparing them for the meet. I know they'll have the great performances we expect out of them."
Fuller, a two-time indoor All-American, will aim to add an outdoor honor to his resume to cap a season in which he finished fourth at the Southeastern Conference Championships with a wind-aided personal best of 25-8.75.
"Being at the national championships means you've done what it takes to compete against the best in the country," Fuller said. "I've got to make it a regular day like Coach Waters always says and be ready to compete."
Paine will hit the runway at the same time to put the finishing touches on a breakout season that has seen her add nearly two feet to her previous personal best in the pole vault. Earlier this season she set the outdoor school record at 13-5.25, finished seventh at the SEC Championships and then matched her school record mark at the NCAA East Region Preliminary Round two weeks ago in Jacksonville, Fla.
"Being here is awesome, because I never thought I would come to an NCAA Championships, especially in pole vault because I was never a pole vaulter before this year," Paine said. "I'm still learning a lot of technique at this point but would like to hit another personal best this week."
On Thursday, the Tide will continue action with Tyler Campbell in the men's high jump and Kaylon Eppinger in the first four events of the heptathlon. UA will conclude competition on Friday with Krystle Schade in the women's high jump and Eppinger in the final three events of the heptathlon.