Alabama Women’s 4×100 Relay Shatters School Record on Final Day of NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships
The Alabama track and field women’s 4x100-meter relay of seniors Quanesha Burks and Diamond Gause and freshmen Symone Darius and Takyera Roberson shattered the school record they set just two weeks ago with a time of 42.56 to finish second in Saturday’s championship race on the final day of the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.
The Crimson Tide women ran six of the 10-fastest 4x100-meter relay times in school history in 2017, including the three fastest times ever recorded at Alabama over the last two meets of the season. Burks, Gause, Darius and Roberson finished second in Thursday’s prelim in 43.08, which is now No. 3 all-time at UA and ran a then school-record 42.91 at the East Regional on May 27. Alabama originally broke the previous school record of 43.54, which had stood since 1987, with a third-place finish at the SEC Relays with a 43.17 on April 29. In all, Alabama lowered the 1987 record by nearly a full second over the course of the 2017 season.
“Getting second in this meet this year was very special,” Burks said following the race. “We had a great chance to win at the end. To go from just hoping to make the final as a freshman to competing for a national championship with the top teams in the country as senior shows things have grown tremendously here.”
It was Burks’ third top-two finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the past three years after winning the long jump in 2015 and taking second in 2016.
“It was special coming off the track today,” Burks said. “When it hit me that this was it and I could feel the emotions and tears coming, I thought about how far the relay had come and how far I’d come - I never thought I’d be competing for national championships, neck-and-neck in the relay, and going through all the ups and downs in the long jump. When I was walking off, Coach (Miguel) Pate told me, ‘you gave it your all.’ And I think that kind of summed up the last four years.”
Alabama’s relay performances this season puts the current group in exclusive Crimson Tide company. The previous record holder, and the last UA squad to take second at the NCAA championships, the 1987 quartet of Flora Hyacinth, Sandra Latham, Lillie Leatherwood and Pauline Davis, who set the previous record at the NCAA Championships that season, included two Olympians (Davis and Leatherwood) and three NCAA champions (Davis, Leatherwood and Hyacinth).
“It’s been a long journey,” said Roberson, who ran the anchor leg on Saturday. “We’ve switched the relay up multiple times to get better and be better with the handoffs. It’s an amazing feeling. I know each and every one of us can say the same.”
In field-event action for Alabama on Saturday, sophomore Stacey Destin tied for sixth in the high jump with a clearance of 5-11 ½ (1.82m). It is the first top eight for UA in the high jump at the NCAA Championships since Krystle Schade finished fourth in 2012.
The Crimson Tide women finished the week in 28th place with 9.7 points, just three-tenths of a point out of 21st. On Friday, Alabama’s men posted their first top-10 finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships since 2001, taking 10th with 19 points.
“I’m very pleased with the way our women’s team battled throughout the season,” head coach Dan Waters said after the meet. “From the beginning of the indoor season through today, they brought great energy and commitment to everything we did. From finishing top-three at the NCAA Indoor Championships with a national champion in the pole vault to the record-setting runs our 4x100-meter relay went on this season, I couldn’t be happier with the buy-in we got from them.
“Watching Quanesha Burks grow and mature along with our program has been so rewarding for me and our staff,” Waters added. “She did everything we asked of her and more during her time here – jumps, sprints, relays, you name it, she was willing to do it. Quanesha epitomizes what we want to be about – commitment, teamwork, competing for championships and being the best and most complete all-around program in the country. She will be missed.”
Alabama ends the four days of competition in Eugene with first-team All-America performances in the 200 meters, 400 meters, 110-meter hurdles and 4x400-meter relay for the men and in the 4x100-meters, pole vault and high jump for the Tide women.
In addition to the school record in the women’s 4x100-meter relay, Crimson Tide athletes turned in 14 marks that rank in the top-10 all-time at Alabama at this year’s NCAA Championships.