BIRMINGHAM – Starting strong and finishing strong, the Alabama men’s and women’s track and field teams both finished in the top-10 in the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships held at the Birmingham CrossPlex this weekend.
“Obviously, we are super happy,” UA head coach Dan Waters said. “To have top-10 finishes on both sides, that is fantastic. The way the athletes competed all week long we couldn’t be prouder. Where we are right now, we are extremely satisfied.”
The Crimson Tide women finished seventh with 18 points. It was 10th top-10 finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships and second in the past three years. The Alabama men were eighth with 23 points. It marked just the second time in school history that both teams finished in the top-10 at the indoor championships, with the first coming in 2017, when the women were third and the men eighth.
The Tide men started the day with a national championship when junior Shelby McEwen soared to the NCAA high jump title after clearing 7-6 (2.29m) on his final attempt.
“The whole meet I stayed focused,” McEwen said. “I worked hard at practice and that carried into the meet, and I got the job done.”
He cleared three bars over seven feet on his first attempt, before clearing 7-5 on his second attempt. After 7-5 there were three jumpers left, with Tennessee’s Darryl Sullivan and LSU’s JuVaughn Harrison joining McEwen in the hunt for the title. All three men missed 7-6 on their first two attempts. Sullivan missed his third attempt before McEwen came up. After he made it over 7-6, the second-best clearance of his career, McEwen waited on Harrison, the NCAA title in the balance.
When Harrison missed his final attempt, the stands, packed with Alabama fans and McEwen’s family, erupted, celebrating the Tide’s latest NCAA champion.
“It feels great to have this type of support at meet like this,” McEwen said. “They came out to support me as an individual and as a whole team representing the University. I appreciate everyone for coming out.”
McEwen is the first Alabama jumper to win an NCAA indoor high jump title, and just the second to win one in either indoor or outdoor, following Jeff Woodard, who won the outdoor title in 1980. His championship also marked the 27th NCAA title for the Tide men and the 13th indoor title.
Sophomore Tamara Clark led the women on day two, grabbing the silver in the 200 meters. The SEC champion in the event last month, Clark clocked a 22.99, the second fastest time of her career, to take second place.
“I was very shocked at first, because coming in I did not have the best time,” Clark said. “I was really nervous trying to execute the race and stay focused. I told myself to push and keep going and fight till the end.”
It was a strong finish for the UA women after seniors Portious Warren (shot put) and Stacey Destin (pentathlon) got things started with a pair of top-five finishes on Friday. In addition to being the Tide women’s second top-10 indoor finish in the past three seasons, it was also their 10th overall.
Alabama also grabbed points in the men’s 200 meters on Saturday, when senior Keitavious Walter turned in a 20.76 to take third place.
“I told my teammates I was going to come out strong and execute,” Walter said.
Combined with McEwen and Walter on Saturday and top-six finishes senior Kord Ferguson (shot put) and Vincent Kiprop (5,000 meters) on Friday, the Crimson Tide men earned their third top-10 finish over the last three indoor seasons, and 10th overall.