The University of Alabama women's track and field team begins the championship portion of its schedule this week at the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Championships in Athens, Ga.
The Crimson Tide will begin competition in the four-day event on Thursday at 11:30 a.m. CDT with the first four events of the women's heptathlon. UA's Kaylon Eppinger enters the meet with the second highest heptathlon score in the SEC this season and the second highest in UA history with 5,499 points.
"I think we have a very talented group and I always like to lead with strong competitors in the heptathlon," UA head coach Sandy Fowler said. "Both Kaylon and Rachel Robbs can place and I think that can jumpstart the team and move us in a positive direction."
The heptathlon will wrap up Friday afternoon along with the hammer throw that features two UA throwers ranked in the top 10 with Angelica Howard's mark of 186-3 ranking fourth in the league. Preliminary heats of the 200m, 800m, 400m hurdles will also be staged on Friday along with the finals of the 10,000m.
Action Saturday is slated to begin at 11 a.m. CDT with preliminary events on the track and a wide array of field finals followed by a full day of championship heats on Sunday. ESPN3 will offer live streaming of both days' events beginning on Friday at 3 p.m. CDT and on Sunday at 1 p.m. CDT.
Last year the Tide's javelin throwers had four scorers in the finals and appear poised to repeat that feat on Sunday with five competitors ranked in the top 15 of the SEC with Meghan Austin's mark of 160-4 ranking second. Also in field events on the final day, SEC indoor shot put champion Wilamena Hopkins will try to add the outdoor title to her resume.
On the track, senior Kim Laing aims defend her 100m hurdle title while Fowler expects her distance crew of Kelsey Johnson, Leigh Gilmore, Katlyn Will and Sarah Gilmore to potentially score in their respective events.
"With some of the things we have had in town the last two weeks has made everyone quite a bit stronger and has caused this team to bond together. Our throwers know more about sprinters and sprinters about distance folk and so on," Fowler said. "That in itself is going to help going forward with this team and is the type of mindset we want to have heading into a championships meet."