Bama Track and Field heads west

The No. 25 University of Alabama men's track and field team continues its outdoor schedule this weekend at the Mississippi Open in Oxford, Miss.

The Crimson Tide will aim to build upon last week's results that saw UA student-athletes Fred Samoei and Kirani James record performances in the 800m and 200m that rank in the top five nationally.

James, the defending NCAA outdoor champion in the 400m, is expected to make his 2011 debut in 400m this weekend. UA head coach Harvey Glance also anticipates running his top team in the 4x400m relay for the first time this season. He expects fast times from both providing the weather, which has made training difficult, cooperates.

"We're in a tough league and nine of the 11 teams in the league are ranked in the top 25," Glance said of his team's performance to date. "We've got a tough job ahead of us but we've kept our team in the top 25 and I'm real proud of that."

Glance is hopeful his squad can build upon its early season times and add to the 11 performances it has already recorded that rank among the top 10 in individual events in the Southeastern Conference this season.

The Mississippi Open gets underway at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning with the field events. The bulk of the track events will begin after noon and continue until approximately 8 p.m.


The Alabama women's track and field team continues the outdoor season this weekend as it heads to Oxford, Miss. to compete in the Mississippi Open. The meet will feature schools from across the Southeast, including a handful of Southeastern Conference rivals.

"The goal again is to step it forward," UA head coach Sandy Fowler said. "We're getting close to the Drake Relays next week against some high-caliber schools so we need to walk out of this meet feeling confident and go after some season and personal bests."

The Crimson Tide is coming off a solid outing at last weekend's Auburn War Eagle Invitational, recording 17 top-10 finishes including three in the 1,500m where junior Leigh Gilmore finished third in the 1,500m run with a time of 4:37.50 while teammates Katlyn Will and Elsbeth Denton ran times of 4:42.48 and 4:44.42 for seventh and eighth, respectively.

In the javelin throw, Meghan Austin finished second with a mark of 144-11 while Brittany Hines threw a season-best 135-11 for fifth and Bekah Hoppis finished seventh, throwing 132-10, also a season-best mark. The javelin has been one of the most successful events for the Tide this season with UA throwers recording four of the top-10 throws in the SEC this season. Austin leads the league with a mark of 160-4 achieved at the Alabama Relays.

The squad has also had strong showings in the hurdles. Last weekend, Kim Laing and Kaylon Eppinger advanced to the finals of the 100m hurdles, where they ran times of 13.52 and 13.68 for fourth and sixth. Senior Talaya Owens, competing in the 400m hurdles, ran a time of 59.71 to finish fourth. UA hurdlers own two of the top 10 times in the SEC in the 100m hurdles with Laing ranking fourth and Eppinger eighth. Owens owns the seventh fastest 400m time in the league this season.

Competition begins Saturday with the women's javelin at 9 a.m. and continuing well into Saturday evening. On Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. the three final events of the women's heptathlon (long jump, javelin, 800m run) will take place.

INFORMATION SOURCE: University of Alabama Athetics