May 16, 2010
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Junior Kim Laing claimed the first Southeastern Conference 100 meter hurdle 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 sixth as a team, tallying 64 points - the highest team finish and point total since 2006.
"The team did really well, especially today," head women's track and field coach Sandy Fowler said. "The girls got together as a team and really got it done. Kim winning the hurdles gave everybody else a lot of confidence and they followed suit. I can't say much about the javelin - 21 points says 21 points - and I'm excited about them because they're all going to be back next year. It's been a number of years (since finishing this high). The kids are excited and I feel like they know what they can do now. We did this with some people not making finals that maybe should have and we also have a SEC champion in Angelica Howard returning next year."
Aiming for her first SEC title in the 100 meter hurdles, Laing successfully did just that as she became the first in program history to win the event at the SEC Championships. Laing entered the finals with the seventh-fastest time from the prelims, but took over the lead almost immediately as the gun was fired in Sunday's final. The St. Catherine, Jamaica, native clocked a season-best time of 13.32 (-1.2) into a small headwind, just .04 seconds off her career-best. Laing's time ties her for the 21st-fastest time in the nation this year and makes her the No. 41 hurdler in the world this year.
"It feels really good," an ecstatic Laing said. "It feels really, really awesome. I worked really hard during the season and this is a really big accomplishment. This just starts the road to regional's and nationals in Oregon. There are always things you can work on, things you can get better at, so we're going to review the tape and try to get faster."
Laing adds the SEC 100 meter hurdle championship to her SEC 60 meter hurdle championship that she attained during the indoor season. In addition, she is just the sixth female athlete in the past 10 years to double with the 60 meter hurdle and 100 meter hurdle Southeastern Conference titles in the same year.
"What can you say about Kim Laing," hurdle coach Scott Roberts said. "I wish I had a whole team of Kim Laing's - that girl has ice water in her veins. She doesn't let anything get to her and she came into this race confident and ready to go. I think it's a tremendous testament to her that she's the first Alabama hurdler to win the 100 meter hurdle event at this meet. This young lady is a joy to coach and I'm just tremendously excited for her."
"I think Kim came into this meet extremely confident because of her win from indoors," Fowler said. "She was really, really confident going into the race - almost as if she knew in advance that she was ready and prepared and that in it self gives you the confidence to win. I'm very proud of her. The exciting thing is that she comes back again next spring."
With senior Chealsea Taylor's SEC heptathlon title and Laing's 100 meter hurdle title, this marks the first time since 2006 the Alabama women have had two individual SEC outdoor champions (Aymara Albury, shot put; Beth Mallory, discus).
The day started with a fourth place finish by the 4x100 meter relay team of sophomore Audra Frimpong, Taylor, Laing and senior Heather Matherson. The squad won the first heat with a season-best time of 45.26, an improvement of a stunning .63 seconds on their previous best.
In the 1,500 meter final, sophomore Leigh Gilmore and freshman Katlyn Will finished 10th and 12th with times of 4:32.07 and 4:33.90, respectively. The duo became the first Alabama women in the 1,500 meter final since 2004 (Julia Hicks, 5th).
The javelin contest turned out to be a huge event for the Tide when it picked up 21
team points from four athletes. Junior Meghan Austin led the quartet with a second-place finish and a personal-best launch of 155-0 to earn All-SEC honors for the first time in her career. Austin moved into fourth all-time in the Alabama record books.
True freshman Bekah Hoppis and sophomore Brittany Hines followed in third and fourth in the javelin with career-best marks of 150-11 and 143-1, respectively. Hoppis improved her best mark by just over nine feet, while Hines improved hers by over 13 feet. In addition, Hoppis earned All-SEC Freshman honors for being the top freshman finisher in the event. Junior Rachel Robbs, returning after finishing ninth in the heptathlon two days ago, was seventh with a heave of 133-7. Hoppis is now sixth in the Alabama record books, while Hines moves into eighth.
"The javelin was phenomenal," Fowler said. "Two days ago, we talked about a scenario that could happen with places and some high points. It was kind of an interesting day because some bad weather rolled in too. We got a few personal-bests from the girls and I'm proud of them. You really have to stick together to get that done and really be able to be a competitor. We surprised the other competitors today."
In the shot put, freshman Wilamena Hopkins placed fourth with a launch of 51-3, which is just one half inch off her season-best throw. Due to finishing as the top freshman in the event, the Archer, Fla., native earned All-SEC Freshman accolades. Hopkins was fifth at the SEC Championships during the indoor season earlier this year, also earning All-SEC Freshman honors.
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 North Carolina A&T State University campus.
Sunday's Alabama Women's Results
4x100 Meter Relay: 4. Frimpong, Taylor, Laing, Matherson - 45.26*
1,500 Meters: 10. Leigh Gilmore - 4:32.07; 12. Katlyn Will - 4:33.90
100 Meter Hurdles: 1. Kim Laing - 13.32*
5,000 Meters: 13. Kelsey Johnson - 17:08.47*; 16. Andrea Torske - 17:40.18!
4x400 Meter Relay: 11. Owens, Romero, Armstead, Matherson - 3:46.30*
Javelin: 2. Meghan Austin - 155-0!; 3. Bekah Hoppis - 150-11!; 4. Brittany Hines - 143-1!; 7. Rachel Robbs - 133-7
Shot Put: 4. Wilamena Hopkins - 51-3; t17. Amethyst Holmes - 41-7
Alabama Women's Scorers (Top Eight Finishers - All Weekend)
Heptathlon: 1. Chealsea Taylor - 5,672 points!SR (10 points)
Hammer Throw: 6. Amethyst Holmes - 175-2! (3 points)
High Jump: 3. Krystle Schade - 5-10 3/4 (6 points); 5. Chealsea Taylor - 5-8 3/4 (4 points)
4x100 Meter Relay: 4. Frimpong, Taylor, Laing, Matherson - 45.26* (5 points)
100 Meter Hurdles: 1. Kim Laing - 13.32* (10 points)
Javelin: 2. Meghan Austin - 155-0! (8 points); 3. Bekah Hoppis - 150-11! (6 points); 4. Brittany Hines - 143-1! (5 points); 7. Rachel Robbs - 133-7 (2 points)
Shot Put: 4. Wilamena Hopkins - 51-3 (5 points)
! - Personal-best; * - Season-best; + - Advanced to next round; DQ - Disqualified; DNF - Did not finish; NM - No mark; FS - False start; SR - School record
Women's Team Standings (21 of 21 Events Scored)
1. LSU - 132
2. Florida - 107.5
3. Arkansas - 98.5
4. Auburn - 97
5. Georgia - 74.5
6. Alabama - 64
7. Tennessee - 62
8. South Carolina - 48.5
9. Mississippi - 48
10. Kentucky - 44
11. Mississippi State - 36
12. Vanderbilt - 5