Tide looks to get one last tune-up at AuburnBy Billy Whyte | 04/17/2012 11:10pm
With only two events left until the SEC Championships, the Alabama track and field team looks to continue to build up momentum toward the end of the season at the Auburn War Eagle Invitational this weekend.
The event will serve as one last tune-up for many of the athletes on the team, as the only other event remaining, the Drake Relays, is mostly a relay and sprinter event. Head coach Dan Waters said it is important for the team to have a strong showing this weekend.
“It’s important for us to kind of set the stage for the SEC meet,” Waters said. “That’s exactly what this meet was put on the schedule for is to get great opportunities down the runways and the ovals and compete in events that we feel like we can get the last little technical stuff done before we go to the SEC meet.”
The Crimson Tide is coming off an impressive showing at the Spec Towns Invitational, recording 18 top five finishes and multiple season best performances. Waters said he was impressed with the team’s efforts last weekend and looks for the team to continue to progress this weekend.
“Every one of those athletes stepped up and had a new level of performance,” Waters said. “We learned that we are capable of doing more and can get more out of ourselves as long as we compete, and then, hopefully, we continue to do that and follow the process of getting better and better each time.”
The team’s goal in Waters’ first season has been to progress in the technical aspects from week to week in order to reach the level of competing they want to be at before the SEC Championships.
No one has epitomized this goal of progression this season as much as junior pole-vaulter Alexis Paine, who is coming off a breakout performance last weekend where she cleared a height of 13-4.25 — the second best jump in school history and only a quarter of an inch away from the school record. Waters said he is impressed with how far she has come since the beginning of the season.
“She was an 11-foot vaulter when we came here last year and started working with her,” Waters said. “She is starting to believe and understand what she has been given and how she is progressing, and now she’s progressed by almost two and a half feet, and that is remarkable.”
Paine said she credits the coaching staff to her success this year.
“They’re a really talented group of coaches,” Paine said. “They really want us to do better, so they give us everything they have.”
This weekend will also give the Tide multiple chances to take down Auburn at their home track, a fact that isn’t lost on senior high jumper Tyler Campbell.
“We plan on beating anybody that has Auburn [on their] jersey,” Campbell said. “They have a good high jumper there, so I plan on giving him some good competition.”