Tide familiar with tough competition at upcoming nationals

CW Staff

By Zackary Al-Khateeb

The Alabama men’s track and field team will compete in the NCAA Indoor Championships Friday and Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark.

The No. 26 Crimson Tide, which finished seventh in the Southeastern Conference Championships, prepares for intense competition. Head coach Harvey Glance noted his team’s success and the difficulty of the SEC in comparison to the NCAA.

“It’s pretty much the same,” Glance said. “We have 10 teams that compete in the SEC, and nine of them are in the top 30. We’ve always called the SEC Championships the mini NCAA Championships.”

Despite the fact Alabama finished seventh in the conference, Harvey is still pleased with his team’s performance. The Tide finished with 47 points overall, the highest marks earned in the SEC tourney for Alabama since 2006.

“I think [the SEC Championships] has prepared [the team] pretty well,” Glance said. “It doesn’t excite people, but we’re never disappointed finishing in the middle of the pack. If you can score in the SEC, there’s a good chance you’ll score in the NCAA Championships.”

The SEC, much like every other athletic event, dominates the polls. Indeed, as of Tuesday, the SEC has three teams in the top 10, with Florida, LSU and Arkansas ranked second, fourth and sixth, respectively. Auburn, South Carolina, Ole Miss and Georgia are also in the top 25, while Kentucky is ranked 30th. With competition like this on a regular basis, the Tide seems well prepared to take on the rest of the nation.

While Glance preps his team for the Championships, many of Alabama players already seem ready to help the team.

“I think [all the players] contribute,” Glance said. “They’re all competitive. They’ve had experience… We’ll go in and represent the University.”

One competitor, Kirani James of Gouyave, Grenada, said he is prepared for the challenge. James, who competes in the 200m and 400m sprints, is one of the best not only in the nation, but the world. Earlier this year, the freshman set the year’s fastest time in the 400m dash with a personal best of 45.79 seconds, setting a new world record for the junior 400 meter dash. Then, he smashed that record en route to a second-place finish in the 400-meter sprint, posting a time of 45.24 seconds. The freshman said he doesn’t let his early success go to his head, however.

“I ran a good time, but all that’s over,” James said. “I need to shift my attention and stay focused on the NCAA Championships. I’m not taking [the competition] for granted.”

As the Tide prepares to take on the rest of the nation, one key to success always remains the same for Glance and company: focus.

“There are a lot of talented guys [we will face],” James said. “We just have to go there and remain focused.”

Glance has stressed the importance that his team will be ready, both physically and mentally, for the Championships.

“It’s important that we do well,” Glance said. “We’ve got a young team, but these young men are focused. They’re hungry.”