By Hunter Jones/Special to The Tuscaloosa News
The opportunities are there.
Now it’s up to Alabama to seize them.
The Crimson Tide track and field team will compete in the NCAA Outdoor championships in Austin, Texas, which starts Thursday and wraps up Sunday.
The Crimson Tide will send 23 athletes to compete, 19 in individual events. Alabama also has 25 scoring opportunities at the championship, with the women having 16 chances, the second most behind Arkansas with 17.
“Well it just shows that you have opportunities to score in a number of different areas and truth of the matter is that the more opportunities you have the better opportunities you’re going to have to score some points and it doesn’t take very many points to do pretty good here,” head coach Dan Waters said.
Of the 23 athletes, 17 are women, with 14 qualifying for individual events and three qualifying for the women’s relay pool. Of the 17, four of the athletes are making their NCAA championship debut, while others such as senior Portious Warren, Stacey Destin and sophomore Tamara Clark boast a little more experience. All scored at the NCAA Indoor championships, guiding the Crimson Tide of a seventh-place finish.
Warren is the No. 1-ranked shot-putter in the country and looking to improve from her third-place finish at the Indoor championships. Warren said she’d like to realize the mistakes she made at the indoor meet and turn them into an advantage.
“It’s a great opportunity because it opens a lot of doors for me and really puts me in a position to go there and show what I’m really capable of along with my other teammates,” said Warren.
The Crimson Tide men had six men qualify, two freshmen, two juniors and two seniors. Seniors Gilbert Kigen and Kord Ferguson lead the way, with five NCAA Division I Championship appearances each.
“I’m just really happy with the focus that they’ve shown as we’ve gone through the championship portion,” Waters said. “They’re only getting better and better and advancing through each round whether it be SEC and regionals into nationals. It usually shows that kind of mojo, for lack of a better word, that you’re going to have great performances and that’s what we’re expecting.”