One of the benefits of having an engaged coach like Nick Saban as the titular figurehead of the Alabama athletics department has been his continued push to improve all of the school’s programs, athletic and academic. Certainly, a lot of this has been to improve football recruiting, but these consequences are consequences nonetheless. And they are paying huge dividends: Throwing money into the programs has worked.
Take Alabama Track & Field, long a middle-of-the-pack program. Entering into the SEC Outdoor Championships this weekend, the Tide women were 19th in the country. The men have had an even better showing. Led by Vincent Kiprop, the Crimson Tide are 5th in the nation. And both had an excellent weekend at the SECs
The Alabama men and women...finished with three event champions, 12 All-SEC honorees and two school records at the conference meet in Knoxville, Tenn.
Vincent Kiprop (5,000 meters, 10,000 meters) and Shelby McEwen (high jump) took home men’s individual titles. Portious Warren (shot put) and Tamara Clark (100 meters) set school records on the women’s side while earning all-conference honors.
Joining Kiprop and McEwen in earning men’s All-SEC recognition were Alfred Chelanga (5,000 meters, 10,000 meters), Gilbert Kigen (10,000 meters), Kord Ferguson (discus) and Daniel Haugh (hammer throw).
Other All-SEC finishers for the Tide women were Clark (200 meters) and McKenzie Yanek (10,000 meters).
Though as a team Alabama men and women placed 4th and 9th respectively in SECs, those finishes show the remarkable transformation of the programs’ national status. More importantly, they place the Crimson Tide among the conference’s elite: the SEC women’s programs have eight USTFCCA ranked teams, and the men’s side has nine Top 25 teams, including four of the top five national teams.
Congratulations to Alabama’s T&F athletes. NCAA Championships begin regional competition May 24-26. Alabama is placed in the East, and will travel to USF’s Tampa campus.