Head coach Kurt Thomas and graduate student pole vaulter Neal Tisher look on at the action at an earlier event this season. Thomas has led his Blazers to a program-high No. 33 in the national polls.
May 20, 2014
NEW ORLEANS – Just a month after claiming its highest position ever in the USTFCCCA Division I Outdoor Track and Field poll at 39th, the UAB track and field team jumped up to No. 33 in this week’s poll, the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association released on Tuesday.
“This is great for UAB track and field,” head coach Kurt Thomas said. “It is a testament to Eli (Kirk) and Neal's (Tisher) talent, work ethic and competitiveness. They are tremendous young women who deserve all these accolades. As I've said before, coach (Tony) Houchin has done a great job prepping Eli for all of this. But, our bigger goals are still to come. We need to go to NCAA Prelims and qualify and keep going to be our best at NCAA’s in Eugene in a few weeks. For our program to be ranked so well is really exciting.”
The Blazers were ranked No. 39 on April 22, which set a new program mark, but have now topped that ranking after jumping 11 spots from last week to this week’s poll at No. 33.
UAB’s total of 59.83 points tops all Conference USA teams, as UTEP is the closest team, checking in at No. 38.
As a team the Blazers are fresh off an eighth-place finish at the Conference USA Outdoor Championships, where graduate students Kirk and Tisher combined for record-breaking victories in three events.
Kirk, who has had a remarkable year with a combined six conference cross country and track titles, won both the 1,500-meter run and 5,000-meter run. Kirk, running in the 1,500 for the first time this season, broke the 16-year-old C-USA mark (4:17.99) with a 4:15.93 to win the race. She also broke the UAB record of 4:19.31 with her performance.
She also set a new league record in the 5,000 as she won it by more than 34 seconds. She ran a 16:05.29 and shattered the previous record of 16:17.48.
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