The excitement surrounding Alabama track and field’s lone home meet Friday and Saturday is not what fans would expect.
Sure, there is plenty of buzz surrounding the program this spring after winning the conference title indoors, and the team still consists of multiple school record holders, but the members of the track team are excited about something completely different.
Because the team can travel with only a limited number of athletes, the Crimson Tide Invitational will give UA the opportunity to let all of its athletes compete.
“We have a large roster,” assistant coach Blaine Wiley said. “We have over 100 people on our roster, and we don’t travel 100 people every weekend. So, it gives us a chance to compete literally everybody we want to compete this weekend. And so, it’s an opportunity for some young kids — maybe some kids that are redshirting that are allowed to travel — to compete at home, and gives us a chance to see what they can do.”
Track and field is a sport largely centered around training, and the team does not get to compete every weekend. For many Crimson Tide athletes, it’s difficult to commit such significant amounts of time and effort without opportunities to showcase what they can do.
The athletes that do most of the traveling for the Crimson Tide understand that, and many are excited to finally compete alongside their training partners.
“It’s very exciting for the team as a whole,” sophomore sprinter Takyera Roberson said. “When you travel, the people who are going to redshirt and stuff, they miss track. We love track, that’s why we run. (The home meet) is just an opportunity for you to come out here and have fun and run with your teammates who you train with.”
Roberson was voted a second-team All-American in the outdoor 400 meters, and a first-team All-American in the 4×100-meter relay in 2017. She is also a school record-holder in the 4×100 relay and the 4×400 relay.
“We are always at practice rooting for each other,” Roberson said. “For them to eventually be at a meet with us is like ‘OK’, because either they are across the country running, or, you know, they are never here. So, for them to be here we can support them entirely.”
For the seniors like first-team All-American hurdler Ruebin Walters, Friday and Saturday’s Invitational will be their final meet at the Alabama track and field complex. Having the full team to surround the group should be a nice compliment to an already emotional moment.
“This meet is going to be a special one for the entire team because not all the athletes — like some were injured and some weren’t cleared to run — now we are just going to have the entire group here,” Walters said. “This weekend is going to be a really special meet.”