Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Seven athletes advance to national championships


Seven members of the University of Alabama women’s track and field team reached the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore.

The inaugural NCAA East Preliminary Round, held May 27-29 and hosted by North Carolina A&T State University at Irwin Belk Track, culminated on Saturday evening with seven of Alabama’s 10 competitors advancing to the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

A total of 96 athletes in each event, except the combined events and relays, competed in the opening rounds in each of the individual events over the weekend in Greensboro.

In the 4×100 meter relay, the squad consisting of sophomore Audra Frimpong, junior Kim Laing and seniors Heather Matherson and Chealsea Taylor started their tournament off on the right foot for the Tide.

The foursome combined for the eighth fastest time in school history, 44.66, and qualified for the NCAA Championships with the eighth fastest time of the day. The relay squad cut their previous best time by a remarkable six-tenths of a second.

Junior Meghan Austin, freshman Wilamena Hopkins and sophomore Krystle Schade each advanced to the national championships in individual events.

Head coach Sandy Fowler said she was extremely proud of her girls and has high expectations for those competing in Eugene.

“I think they will do very well,” she said. “They’re hard to break down.”

Fowler said her own national championship triumphs help her relate, but it is ultimately the girls’ responsibility to finish the job.

Hopkins and Austin will be making their first appearance in the national championships with Hopkins competing in shot put and Austin in the javelin.

Krystle Schade will be competing in the high jump, her third overall national championship competition in her short career at the University.

Chelsea Taylor and Kim Laing will be competing in the 4×100 meter relay, in addition to their respective individual events. Taylor is also competing in the heptathlon, while Laing will be a part of the 100-meter hurdles national championship event.

“We’ve had some fantastic hurdlers over the years, and she’s right up there with the best of them,” assistant coach Scott Roberts said of Laing’s performance.

Both athletes have prior national championship experience with Taylor competing in her fifth overall national championship, while Laing will compete in her third.

Fowler also said she has confidence in the girls without national championship experience.

“The first round qualifiers were enough for them to build on,” she said.

The two remaining members of the 4×100 relay team, Audra Frimpong and Heather Matherson, will compete at the highest level for the first time in their careers.

Three members of the team competed well, but fell short of the national championships.  Sophomores Brittany Hines and Kelsey Johnson along with freshman Bekah Hoppis just missed out on qualifying for the championships.  Fowler said these girls would take it to heart, and this experience would provide the drive and hunger to reach the final competition next year.

The national championship competition started Wednesday and will continue through Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

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