The essence of athletic ability may be the ability to run and jump, and two of the best in the nation were honored Thursday in the Champions Room at Bartow Arena. Long distance runner Elinor Kirk and pole vaulter Neal Tisher were treated to a Thursday reception, hosted by the athletics department, to celebrate their achievements for the year.
Both young ladies participated in the NCAA track and field championships in Eugene, Oregon last weekend. Kirk earned First-Team All-American honors after finishing second in the 10K run and seventh-place in the 5K.
Kirk capped here two-year career by being named Conference USA Track Athlete of the Year. "What another great award for Eli," head coach Kurt Thomas said. ""When you're voted by your peers and conference coaches to such an award, it really speaks to the level that she was running at this year. Eli takes nothing for granted and I know she'll cherish this award just like the others with grace and humility."
"There isn't an athlete that's been more decorated nor more deserving at UAB," added assistant coach Tony Houchin. "We are certainly going to miss her."
Tisher made it to the finals of the pole vault by clearing the 3.90 meter height. Earlier in the season, she set new records for UAB in the event and also set a new Conference USA record at the 2014 C-USA Outdoor Championships.
The two athletes led a UAB track team that had its most successful season ever. The Blazers entered the championship event ranked 25th nationally - their highest ranking ever in the history of the program. The finished the NCAA Championship in 22nd place overall. "This team has accomplished things it has never done before," said track coach Kurt Thomas.
"This was an incredible year for our program, and as an athlete, the best year for any UAB athlete ever," he added. "We are so proud of Eli (Kirk) and Neal (Tisher) for representing us so well here."
Both young women already have future plans. Kirk, a graduate student in communication management at UAB, will return to her home in Swansea, Wales early next week to continue training for future track events. Her next effort will be in an international track meet in Mexico.
Tisher's says her athletic career is over, but she will be around UAB for a while longer. She has three more years in medical school before she completes her studies as a Blazer. Still, she has fond memories of her athletic career, noting, "This is the best year of track I've ever had."