May 21, 2008
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama women's track and field duo of Talaya Owens and Betty Rotich have enjoyed instant success in 2008. The duo helped lead the Crimson Tide at the SEC Championships and is poised to further their season as the NCAA Championships loom around the corner.
Talaya Owens Storms on to National Scene in 400 Hurdles
In a matter of four short weeks, University of Alabama redshirt freshman Talaya Owens has gone from an unknown, chasing a regional qualifying mark, to posting the ninth best time in the country in the 400 meter hurdles.
"Talaya has come into her own and realizes that the 400 hurdles is her main event," head coach Sandy Fowler said. "It was tough for her at first there was a lot of learning going on each race. She hasn't even hit the tip of the iceberg. I think Talaya will get our school record here in the future."
Owens, from Denver, Colo., was not ranked among the top 30 in the country on April 23. Owens' big breakthrough came at the Mississippi Invitational, the first weekend in May. There, she clocked 58.10, launching her in to the top 15 in the nation. The grueling race ran over ten hurdles, combines speed, power, endurance, coordination, and most of all guts. Owens seems to be made for the event as she continues to impress.
This past weekend at the SEC Championships Owens did one better, running 57.76. That time stands as the number nine mark in the country going into next weekend's regional championship in Fayetteville, Ark. Owens needs to only finish among the top twelve at the regional to assure her a spot in the NCAA Championships held in Des Moines, Iowa in June.
Owens spent most of her freshman year in and out of the line up dealing with nagging injuries while adjusting to the rigors of college training. In addition to her specialty, Owens will also run on the 4 x 100 and 4x400 meter relays at the regional championship. Both relays ran regional qualifying times at the SEC Championships.
Alabama Distance Ace, Betty Rotich, Leaving her mark in First Semester at the Capstone
Junior college transfer Betty Rotich has wasted little time in leaving her mark on the University of Alabama women's track and field record books. Since her arrival in January from Colby Community College, Rotich has put her name in the record books no less than five times.
"First and foremost Betty brings a work ethic that needs to be emulated by the whole team," Fowler said. "It is very hard for a junior college athlete to make the transition to a Division I program, in January especially, and adjust. Her work ethic is such she wants to do more. She is always in the office asking how to get better and that is what you want to bring to your whole program."
This past weekend she raced to a second place finish in the women's 10,000 to earn her second All-SEC honor of the semester, the first coming during the SEC Indoor Championship where she placed second in the 5,000 meter run.
Along the way she has moved herself onto several all-time lists at Alabama. Betty currently ranks No. 3 all-time indoors at 5,000 meters. Her time of 16:25 moved her just ahead of Julia Hicks, who took over the number three spot a year ago. This past weekend she moved to number four all time at 5,000 meters with a 16:29 clocking. In April she posted the No. 4 all-time outdoor mark for 10,000 meters 34:19.
Rotich's All-SEC honors coupled with freshman Haley Moody's All-SEC honor in cross country marks the first time since 1998-1999 that the University of Alabama women has earned All-SEC honors by a distance runner in all three sports. Ashley Labudde accomplished the feat with her fourth place finish in cross country, her runner-up finish in the indoor 5,000 and her two second place finishes at the SEC outdoor championships.
Owens, Rotich and a large Crimson Tide contingency will next be in action at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships. The meet is scheduled to start on Friday, March 30 in Fayetteville, Ark. at John McDonnell Field.