The Alabama Crimson Tide men stormed to their first conference title since 1972 on the final day of the 2018 Southeastern Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships on Sunday at Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Track & Field Stadium in College Station, Texas. In second place after Saturday’s events, the Tide roared to the front of the pack behind a 21-point performance in the 5,000 meters and four additional top-three finishes on Sunday to clinch the crown.

“This was a total team championship,” head coach Dan Waters said following the meet. “Everyone contributed. One of the most impressive things about this championship was where the points came from. Our freshman triple jumper, Christian Edwards, finishing second. Kord Ferguson finishing second in the shot put with an amazing mark. Shelby McEwen winning the high jump for our only individual title. Our distance runners scoring 31 points in the 3,000 and 5,000. It was a total team effort and that’s how we built this program. Everyone chipped in one way or another.”

Alabama won the title with 91 points, three points ahead of runner-up Arkansas (88). Florida (83.5), Texas A&M (75.5) and Georgia (71) round out the top five.

The conference crown is the sixth indoor championship in school history. The men previously won the SEC in 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962 and 1972.

Alabama entered the day trailing Saturday leader Florida, 30.5-28 following junior Shelby McEwen’s win in the high jump, a second place finish by senior Daniel Haugh in the weight throw and third- and fifth-place finishes by Vincent Kiprop and Gilbert Kigen, respectively, in the 3,000 meters. The Gators extended the lead with multiple scorers in Sunday’s first-five events but senior Ruebin Walters and junior Keitavious Walter kept the Tide within striking distance with second- and seventh-place finishes in the 60-meter hurdles and 60 meters, respectively.

However, it was the longest race of the day that catapulted the Crimson Tide into championship contention as juniors Kigen, Kiprop and seniors Alfred Chelanga and Conner Thompson finished 2-3-5-6 in the men’s 5,000 meters for 21 points to push Alabama into a lead it would not relinquish.

Alabama continued to pile up the points as senior Will Herrscher and freshman Jake Spotswood finished 3-4 in the pole vault. Freshman Christian Edwards and junior Kord Ferguson added second-place finishes in the triple jump and shot put, respectively, and Walter finished sixth in the 200 meters. Alabama clinched the championship with an eighth-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay, the final event of the evening.

“I’m just so proud of everyone,” Waters added. “From our student-athletes to our assistant coaches, support staff and our administration. It’s been a seven-year process to get here so it’s extremely rewarding to win this championship. We’ve built a complete program and it took every part of it – sprinters, hurdlers, distance, jumpers, vaulters, throwers – coming through to win this title. To do something like this takes a lot of hard work and dedication. If you buy in to that, you’ll see the fruits of your labor. That’s what we saw tonight.”

Leading the way for the Alabama women on Sunday were freshman Daija Lampkin and junior Stacey Destin. Lampkin finished fifth in the 200 meters in 23.16, which ranks as the fifth-fastest time in school history, and, along with sophomores Takyera Roberson and Symone Darius and freshman Tamar Clark, turned in the fourth-fastest time in UA history in the 4x400-meter relay. The quartet finished fourth in 3:34.50.

Other scorers for the Crimson Tide included junior Tamara Moncrieffe, who finished sixth in the triple jump with a leap of 42-7 ½ (12.99m); junior Kristyn Williams (2:08.33) and senior Kaitlin Walker (2:09.37), who were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 800 meters and sophomore Elisabeth Danis, who ran a personal-best 16:47.92 for an eighth-place finish in the 5,000 meters.

The Tide women finished eighth at this year’s SEC championships with 37 points. Arkansas claimed the women’s title for the fourth year in a row with 108 points.

Alabama will return to College Station in two weeks to compete in the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, March 9-10. Qualifiers for the NCAA meet will be announced this week.

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