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May 29, 2002

With the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships under way, USC has a number of athletes competing on Wednesday, May 29. The following are USC’s events today (all times are central):

Heptathlon – All Day
Tacita Bass – comes in seeded No. 5

Men’s 4x100m Relay – 6:30 pm
(men were sixth in 2001 – come in seeded No. 4)

Women’s 4x400m Relay – 6:45 pm
(women were third last year – come in seeded No. 6)

Women’s 400m Hurdles – 7:30 pm
Tiffany Ross – won SEC title – seeded No. 1
Lashinda Demus – second at SECs – seeded No. 4

Men’s 800 Meters
Otukile Lekote – defending NCAA champion – No. 1 in the world

Women’s 200 Meters
Aleen Bailey – seeded No. 3 – 2nd at SECs
Lisa Barber – seeded No. 5 – All-American in 2001

Defending NCAA champion Otukile Lekote, the 2002 Southeast Region Athlete of the Year, likes a lot of rest prior to racing at the NCAA Championships. OT, as he is called by his teammates, went to bed at 10 pm last night and got up at 8:15 am this morning. After the team meeting, at about 10:30 am this morning, he headed back to bed for a nap – until 3:30 pm. So, Lekote should be wide awake for his race tonight at 7:30 pm.

Lekote will run a leg of the men’s 4x400m relay tomorrow.

Freshmen Tiffany Ross and Lashinda Demus will be coming to their first NCAA Outdoor Championships this weekend. But, both come in with pretty strong credentials.

Ross won the SEC 400m hurdles with a time of 55.75 (fastest in the NCAA), breaking an 11-year old SEC record. She was later the runner-up in the 100m hurdles with a personal best of 13.30. Ross also ran a leg of USC’s champion 4x400m relay.

Demus, the SEC Indoor Freshman of the Year, won the 400m at SECs. The time of 51.24 stands as the fastest time in the country in 2002. Later Demus was the runner-up to Ross in the 400m hurdles. Demus knows a bit about the 400m hurdles as she finished fifth in the race at the 2001 USA Track and Field Championships. She is also a two-time National High School Athlete of the Year.

USC Head Coach Curtis Frye was asked yesterday about the leader of the women’s team. He believes it to be senior Demetria Washington. “Demetria is very valuable. She sets a fine example for both of our teams to follow,” said Frye. “She was on the World Championship team last year – many of our young ladies aspire to be like her. Her grandmother died this past weekend and she is hurting, but is an excellent role model and is showing the younger athletes how to fight through adversity.”

The Gamecock women’s team looks to finish in the top 10 for the seventh straight year. Only UCLA and Texas have accomplished this feat as well. The men are looking for their fifth top 20 finish.