Alabama Men’s Track & Field Posts First Top-Five Finish at NCAA Championships Since 1986
The Alabama men’s track & field team received All-America performances in the high jump, triple jump, shot put and 110-meter hurdles to finish fifth at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships Friday evening in Eugene, Ore.
Junior Shelby McEwen finished second in the high jump while junior Kord Ferguson finished fourth in the discus. Senior Ruebin Walters and freshman Christian Edwards finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles and the triple jump, respectively, at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.
The finishes on the final night of the men’s competition, coupled with the 14 team points scored in the hammer throw by Daniel Haugh and the 10,000 meters by Vincent Kiprop and Gilbert Kigen on Wednesday, vaulted Alabama into a tie for fifth place in the final team standings with Texas Tech. The finish is the first in the top-five for the Crimson Tide at the men’s outdoor championships since a fourth place finish in 1986 and just the third in program history (3rd- 1983).
“We had some spectacular performances this week and everyone competed incredibly hard,” Alabama head coach Dan Waters said. “It came down to centimeters and thousandths of a second for a trophy so I’m very proud of our guys. They competed hard throughout the year. I can’t say enough about their commitment and what they were able to accomplish.”
Georgia won the team championship with 52 points, followed by Florida (42), Houston (35), USC (34) and the Crimson Tide and Red Raiders (33) in the top five.
McEwen finished second in the high jump with a clearance of 7-3 (2.21m) for Alabama’s first top-two finish in the event since a runner-up finish by Thomas McCants in 1985. McEwen also finished as the runner-up at the NCAA indoor championships this season.
“It was a great day today,” McEwen said. “I didn’t let the weather get to me and we all went out and just had fun competing against each other. It feels great to finish in the top two again. I’m going to keep improving and working hard to finish one spot higher.”
Ferguson finished fourth in the discus with a throw of 191-8 (58.42m) on his first attempt of the competition and saw it stand up for the All-America finish. The first-team honor is the first for the Tide in the event since 2014, when Hayden Reed won the national championship in the event in 2014.
“I knew I needed to come out with a good throw right at the start and I was able to do that,” Ferguson said. “Our coaches have been telling us we had a chance to do something special at this meet and I think we wish we’d done just a little better but a lot of us are coming back so we have a chance to do better next year.”
Walters finished sixth in the 110-meter hurdles in 13.95 to earn first-team All-America honors for the second year in a row. The back-to-back first-team honors are the first for Alabama in the event since Ron Bramlett won consecutive NCAA titles in 2001 and 2002.
Edwards finished sixth in the triple jump with a personal-best mark of 53-8 ½ (16.37m) on his final jump of the competition. The mark ranks No. 5 all-time at Alabama.
“We didn’t quite get what we wanted,” Waters added, “but the nice thing is almost every one of these athletes comes back next year and we should have a really strong team. Being in the top five in the country will help you do some things in the future.”