May 16, 2010
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - True freshman Kirani James claimed the sixth Southeastern Conference outdoor 400 meter title in program history on the fourth and final day of the 2010 SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Tom Black Track at LaPorte Stadium on Sunday. The Crimson Tide finished 11th as a team, tallying 41 points.
“We’re 11th in the conference, but really its no surprise when you’re talking about the top nine teams being ranked near the top 25,” head men’s track and field coach Harvey Glance said. “I’ve got a feeling that even after this weekend, with the performances we had, we’ll be a highly-ranked team – I’m hoping we move into the top 25. We’ve just got to stay focused. I’ve always said we’re a better national team than a conference team and hopefully we’ll be able to prove that in a couple weeks.”
Clocking a personal-best time of 45.01, James claimed the sixth SEC outdoor 400 meter championship in program history - the fourth Alabama athlete to win the event and first since 1993. The Gouyave, Grenada, native was runner-up in the 400 meters at the indoor SEC championships. James is the first freshman to win the 400 meter event since Calvin Smith of Florida (2007).
"It's just good to gain experience," a humble James said. "Coach said just go out there and compete to the best of my ability. I knew if I just went out there and followed my race plan, I would get the win. I felt really good the whole way around."
By winning the 400 meter conference title, James defeated two of the fastest sprinters in the world including No. 1 Smith and No. 3 Tavaris Tate (Mississippi State). The 17-year-old's time of 45.01 betters his No. 5 world ranking as well as his school record and gives him the third-fastest time in the nation this year. In addition, James is named to the All-SEC Freshman team for being the highest finishing freshman in the event.
With James' SEC 400 meter title, this marks the third consecutive year the Alabama men have had at least one individual SEC outdoor champion (Tyson David - 10,000 meters in 2008 and 2009). The last time Alabama had a three-year stretch of at least one SEC outdoor champion came in 2000-02.
“This is a great honor for Kirani,” Glance said. “This was not easy to do. When you have to beat the No. 1 and No. 3 guy in the world, not college, to win the SEC title, that’s pretty amazing. He’s still 17 years old and just poised. I’ve never seen anything like this – he does it in practice, he does it here in competition – nothing seems to faze him. His goal was to come in, and not necessarily be a SEC champion, but compete against the best in the world and he did that. He is something special and is bringing a SEC championship back for our program.”
The day started with a sixth place finish by the 4x100 meter relay team of junior Brandon Spradley, James, senior Ray Jadusingh and senior Matt Watson. The squad clocked a season-best time of 39.64, an improvement of .11 seconds on their previous best and the 10th-fastest time in school history.
In the 1,500 meter finals, juniors Julius Bor and Joel Rop finished fourth and 11th with times of 3:51.86 and 3:53.96, respectively.
Junior Fred Samoei, in his first SEC Championship finals experience, finished third in a
fast and very close 800 meter race. Samoei clocked a lifetime-best time of 1:47.15, bettering his previous best by well over a second. He was just .34 seconds behind the champion, Richard Jones of LSU. Samoei finished with the fifth-fastest time in the country and moved up to fourth in the all-time Alabama record books.
The Tide gained six more points to add to the team total in the high jump. Sophomore Tyler Campbell, fourth at last year's SEC Championships, placed fourth again with leap of 6-10 3/4. Freshman Mike Edwards tied for seventh, clearing the bar set at 6-8 3/4. Campbell and Edwards were fifth and sixth, respectively, at the indoor conference meet earlier this year.
In the last event of the weekend, the 4x400 meter relay, the squad of freshman Fabian Norgrove, sophomore A
aron Stockstell, James and Watson combined for a season-best time of 3:06.49 to finish fifth.
“Right now, we’ve got the No. 1 cross country program in the conference and the No. 3 cross country team in the country and we come out with zero points in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters,” Glance said. “That’s not good. But at the same time, there’s a reason for that and injuries played a major part of that. We’ve got to make sure when we come to a meet like this that our athletes are healthy. That’s the number one thing. If you can’t compete, then you can’t score. I’m not just putting this on a couple events, but we’ve got to make sure that our athletes are prepared and ready to compete.”
The Crimson Tide will have a week off to prepare for the NCAA Preliminary Round, May 27-29, in Greensboro, N.C. The meet is being hosted on the University of North Carolina at Greensboro campus.
Sunday’s Alabama Men’s Results
4x100 Meter Relay: 6. Spradley, James, Jadusingh, Watson – 39.64*
1,500 Meters: 4. Julius Bor – 3:51.86; 11. Joel Rop – 3:53.96
400 Meters: 1. Kirani James – 45.01!SR
800 Meters: 3. Fred Samoei – 1:47.15!
4x400 Meter Relay: 5. Norgrove, Stockstell, James, Watson – 3:06.49*
High Jump: 4. Tyler Campbell – 6-10 3/4; t7. Mike Edwards – 6-8 3/4
Alabama Men’s Scorers (Top Eight Finishers – All Weekend)
Decathlon: 7. Michael Hughes – 6,794 points! (2 points)
3,000 Meter Steeplechase: 4. Andrew Kirwa – 9:00.11! (5 points)
4x100 Meter Relay: 6. Spradley, James, Jadusingh, Watson – 39.64* (3 points)
1,500 Meters: 4. Julius Bor – 3:51.86 (5 points)
400 Meters: 1. Kirani James – 45.01!SR (10 points)
800 Meters: 3. Fred Samoei – 1:47.15! (6 points)
High Jump: 4. Tyler Campbell – 6-10 3/4 (5 points); t7. Mike Edwards – 6-8 3/4 (1 point)
4x400 Meter Relay: 5. Norgrove, Stockstell, James, Watson – 3:06.49* (4 points)
! – Personal-best; * – Season-best; + – Advanced to next round; DQ – Disqualified; DNF – Did not finish; NM – No mark; FS – False start; SR – School record
Men’s Team Standings (21 of 21 Events Scored)
1. Florida – 124
2. LSU – 100
3. South Carolina – 89
4. Auburn – 88
5. Georgia – 83
6. Mississippi – 74
7. Arkansas – 64
7. Mississippi State – 64
9. Tennessee – 46
10. Kentucky – 44
11. Alabama – 41