By (James Fletcher)

The Alabama Indoor Track & Field team came away as the Southeastern Conference champions for the first time since 1972 as the men won the top honor at Texas A&M’s Gilliam Indoor Track & Field Stadium in College Station Texas, scoring across all disciplines.

“This was a total team championship,” coach Dan Waters said in a press release 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.

The Alabama men won the title by scoring 91 points, finishing three points ahead of runner-up Arkansas.

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

On day one of the event, junior Shelby McEwen became the Crimson Tide’s first SEC high jump champion in 33 years. McEwen’s jump was good enough to tie his personal best and ranks second in school history.

“It feels awesome to be a conference champion, especially in my first season jumping indoors,” McEwen said. “I felt good going into tonight and I knew it was going to be a competitive meet. I just tried to stay focused on clearing that bar. Now it’s time to get ready for nationals.”

However, it was the meet’s longest race that sent the Crimson Tide into championship position as juniors Gilbert Kigan and Vincent Kiprop, along with seniors Alfred Chelanga and Conner Thompson finished 2-3-5-6 in the men’s 5,000 meters for 21 points.

“I’m just so proud of everyone,” Waters said. “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.”

The Alabama women finished eighth in the team event with 37 points.

Notable performances by Alabama women include Daija Lampkin at fifth in the 200 meters, Portious Warren at third in the shot put and Stacey Destin’s third place finish in the high jump the day after finishing fourth in the women’s pentathlon.

Alabama will return to College Station in two weeks to compete in the 2018 NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships onMarch 9-10.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports