Alabama Track and Field Advances to Championship Finals in Four Events on Day One of NCAA Outdoor Championships
The Alabama track and field team qualified three men and its 4x400-meter relay for the championship finals on Wednesday, day one of the NCAA Outdoor Championships being held at historic Haywood Field in Eugene, Ore., this week.
Ruebin Walters (110-meter hurdles), Jereem Richards (200 meters) and Steven Gayle (400 meters) all advanced to the finals, while Alabama’s 4x400-meter relay also moved on to the finals on the opening night of the men’s competition. In addition to advancing in four events, the Crimson Tide men also recorded eight performances that rank in the top-10 in school history on Wednesday evening.
Richards advanced to Friday’s final in the 200 meters by winning the opening heat of the semifinals in a time of 20.04, the fourth-fastest time in school history.
“I thought I could have been going a little bit harder on the turn,” Richards said after the race, “but I qualified with the second fastest time going into the final and I’m really proud of that. There are little things I can fix, but in the final I’ll do what I’m supposed to do.”
Walters moved on to the championship final of the 110-meter hurdles, winning his heat in a time of 13.43, the third-fastest in the semifinals.
“It was a pretty cool race,” Walters said. “I just went out and did what my coach told me to. He said to attack the first three hurdles and just stay focused coming home. The wind messed with me a little around the sixth hurdle, but I kept it composed and won my heat.”
In the final running event of the evening, the Tide’s 4x400-meter relay team of freshman Will Allen, Richards, sophomore Skyler Bowden and Gayle rolled to a time of 3:03.26 to easily advance to Friday’s final. The time is the fourth-fastest in school history and the quartet has now run four of the seven fastest time ever at Alabama in their last four outings this season.
“This was the qualifying round, so coach said just go out there and finish in the top two,” Gayle said. “That was the main goal today so we’d have a chance to execute in finals on Friday.”
Gayle also advanced to the final in the men’s 400 meters with a semifinal time of 45.45, the seventh-fastest in school history.
In the only final on the track on Wednesday, junior Alfred Chelanga finished 11th in the 10,000 meters in 29:12.34, the 10th-fastest time in Alabama history, while senior Antibahs Kosgei finished 16th in 29:34.13 in his final race for the Crimson Tide.
In the field event finals, senior McLean Lipschutz finished 10th in the javelin with a mark of 227-8 (69.41m), the ninth-best mark in school history. Lipschutz had an earlier throw of 226-5 (69.03m), which ranks as the 10th-best all-time at UA. He ends his career with six of the top-10 throws in school history, five of which were recorded this season.
Sophomore Will Herrscher tied for 12th in the pole vault with a clearance of 17-4 ½ (5.30m). The mark ranks No. 5 all-time at Alabama. Herrscher ends the season having recorded seven of the top-10 pole vault marks in Crimson Tide history in 2017.
In other action on Wednesday, Tony Brown ran a personal-best 10.12 in the semifinals of the 100 meters. The time is Alabama’s best of the season and ties for the eighth-fastest time in school history. Brown did not advance to the final as the semifinal was one of the fastest 100-meter races in NCAA history. The top-eight times came in at 10.03 or faster, led by Tennessee’s Christian Coleman, who set an NCAA record with a time of 9.82 to lead all qualifiers.
The Alabama women open competition Thursday afternoon with junior Danielle McConnell in the hammer throw at 4 p.m. (CT). Senior Quanesha Burks will be in action in three events on Thursday, the final of the long jump and the semifinals of the 100 meters and 4x100-meter relay. Burks, the 2015 NCAA outdoor champion in the long jump, will be looking to improve on her runner-up finish at the 2016 championships.