It is not big news when a coach says that the team is better with good players. That proved to be…
Tide Track Gets Two Top Eights
"It was another great day for us," Alabama Coach Dan Waters said. "To have two guys score and get us on the board, and to improve on our seedings and come away with personal bests in the biggest meet of the season shows we're moving in the right direction."
Kamal Fuller added three inches to his career-best outdoor mark in the long jump to snag sixth place overall after soaring to 25 inches 8 ? inches with his third jump of the day. Fuller's previous best outdoor mark of 25-5 ? came earlier this season. The junior had jumped 25-8 ? indoors where he is three-time All-American.
"I was eighth last year and sixth here, so I'm moving up the totem pole," Fuller said. "This was a time to stay resilient and to work through and be a competitor."
Fuller had been having an up and down outdoor season while battling through some nagging injuries, but he hit Thursday when it was on the line.
"That was a great way for Kamal to finish off his season, with a big jump at the national championships," Waters said. "He's struggled some bit at different points this season, but he focused in this week and fought through for a great performance. He'll come back next year with another year under his belt and this experience - he'll be the crafty veteran."
Freshman Elias Hakansson finished eighth in the hammer throw with a throw of 213 feet 10 inches in UA's first event of the day to get the Crimson Tide on the board in the team race. For Hakansson, who owns the top-10 throws in UA history after his rookie season, it was the third best throw of his career, just a matter of inches off his personal best.
"There are things that I'm working on that will help, but I have to be happy that I scored," Hakansson said. "I can't wait to get back to Tuscaloosa and start working on my technique. It's a methodical step-by-step process and you can't skip any and be successful."
"Talk about invaluable experience," Waters said. "Elias came in and scored at this meet as a freshman. That's something he can build on for the next three years. He's another who has great potential and this performance gives him a great launching pad."
Diondre Batson posted a career-best 20.35, shaving nearly two-tenths of a second off his previous best. The sophomore passed Olympian Kirani James and Latonel Williams on the Tide's all-time 200m list, moving into the third place behind James Mallard (20.07) and Calvin Smith (19.99). Batson returns to action Friday in the finals of the 100, where he was fifth after the semifinals.
"That was another amazing performance for Diondre," Waters said. "He staggered out of the block a little, but still shaved almost two tenth off his PR. The way he's running and competing after being on campus with us for just six months is phenomenal and this experience is going to priceless for him going forward. There were five seniors ahead of him in that race (200m) today. He's got a big future, and it continues tomorrow and Saturday."
The Tide's 4x400m relay, which included freshmen Dwight Davis and Quincy Smith and juniors Joel Lynch and Ken Taylor, turned in a 3:06.69 to take 12th place. The quartet came in seeded 18th and shaved more than three-tenths of a second off its seed time.
"That was another great race and a great example of what has made us successful," Waters said. "We've stayed within ourselves and stuck to what has made us successful coming into this meet. That's allowed us to continue to get better on the biggest stage."
The Tide women get things going on Friday when senior Alexis Paine competes in the pole vault. Batson will run the finals of the 100m while freshmen Imani Brown and Justin Fondren will compete in the triple jump and high jump, respectively.
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