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March. 7, 2002

Fayetteville, NC – On the eve of defending two NCAA titles she won last year, South Carolina junior Demetria Washington was named the National Track and Field Athlete of the Year tonight at the coaches banquet. Washington won the award in one of the finest fields ever, which included three collegiate record holders. The award, presented by Mondo International, was voted on by the National Track and Field Coaches Association.

Washington is the third Gamecock to win the award the past two years (National Indoor and Outdoor, Terrence Trammell, 2000, National Outdoor, Miki Barber, 2000).

“When I went up there to receive the Region Athlete of the Year Award I wasn’t thinking ‘I hope I win’. I was thinking ‘Wow, this is a great field,” said Washington, who won the SEC title two weeks ago with the nation’s top time of 52.13. “I was shocked when they said my name. This award means so much because of the field I was up against. I guess coaches around the country see me as someone who works very hard and gives it my all each race. The fact that Miki and Terrence won this award as well, it says a lot about South Carolina and its track programs.”

“I was totally surprised,” said USC Head Coach Curtis Frye. “What a great field but I honestly believe Demetria is the best athlete in the country. No other athlete has accomplished what she has the past year: a world championship semi-finalist, a two-time World University gold medalist. She is well deserving.”

Washington enters the NCAA Championships with the top time in the 400m at 52.13. She is also a member of the defending NCAA champion 4x400m relay which has the country’s fastest time in 2002 as well at 3:34.74.

The nation’s top track conference, the SEC, swept all awards with LSU’s Alleyne Francique winning the men’s award. Florida’s Tom Jones won the National Women’s Coach of the Year while Bill Webb won the men’s award.