March 13, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - True freshman Kirani James earned All-American honors to lead the No. 26 Alabama men's track and field team at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships at the Randal Tyson Track Center on Saturday.
"I really think Kirani came to run today," head men's track and field coach Harvey Glance said. "He only lost to the world-leading 400m sprinter and I think he represented the University of Alabama in fine fashion. We knew coming into the meet that this was going to be a very difficult race and he beat some good people today. I'm really proud of him. As a 17-year-old freshman, a lot people didn't think that he would come in and be an impact so early. Kirani has a very bright future ahead of him."
James, ranked second in the world this year, entered the finals with the fourth-fastest time from the preliminary round, 46.26.
In a final featuring three of the top-five fastest 400m sprinters in the world this year, James, the SEC Men's Freshman Runner of the Year and holder of the indoor Junior World Record, finished second overall with a time of 45.63 - the eighth-fastest time in the world this year.
"It was fast enough to get second," James said. "That's good enough for me. It's been a long adventurous indoor season for me so I am just happy with my performance right now. When I heard 21 seconds (at 200m) I knew it was a fast start, but I thought maybe (eventual NCAA champion Torrin Lawrence) would slow down. (The outdoor season) is going to be exciting. That's all I can tell you right now."
Leading from start to finish in the 400m dash was Georgia's Torrin Lawrence, who holds the fastest time in the world this year (45.03). Lawrence crossed with a time of 45.23 to claim the individual national title.
Becoming not only just the first indoor Alabama 400m All-American since 2008 (Michael Cooley), James turned in the highest-ever finish for an Alabama 400m sprinter indoors (Solomon Amegatcher, 4th, 1993) and is one of just six to earn the honor at Alabama.
In the final team standings No. 1 Florida claimed the coveted national title with 57 points followed by No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Texas A&M, both tallying 44 points. No. 5 LSU (42) and No. 8 Arkansas (38) rounded out the top five teams, respectively. No. 26 Alabama notched a 26th place team finish with eight points - its best indoor team finish since 2002 (2nd, 47 points).
Up next, Alabama will begin its outdoor campaign when it hosts the Alabama Relays, March 25-28 in Tuscaloosa.