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May 31, 2002

Baton Rouge, LA – Pacing the Gamecocks in their first race of the day, the South Carolina women upset LSU to win the NCAA 4x100m relay title. Later in the evening, USC’s Lashinda Demus and Otukile Lekote added NCAA titles in the 400m hurdles and the 800m, respectively.

After day three, USC’s women are in second place with 40 points while UCLA is first with 48 points. On the men’s side USC is in second place with 19 points, while LSU leads with 29 points. USC’s women have four in the finals tomorrow plus its 4x400m relay. The men have one male and one 4x400m relay in the finals.

“The win in the women’s relay was wonderful. Erica Whipple ran a big-time lead-off and gave us a big performance. Aleen Bailey ran a great anchor leg,” said USC Head Coach Curtis Frye. “Lashinda ran a great race, a World Junior record. I can see so much more improvement there for her. I can see her being a much stronger hurdler. Tiffany Ross is a great training partner and Shevon Stoddart did a nice job as well.

“OT winning the 800m was also outstanding. OT knows how to run in a tight race, he’s matured a lot,” said Frye.

Demus won the women’s 400m hurdles tonight with a World Junior record, making her the first Carolina female freshman to win an NCAA individual title. It is Demus’ first individual title, as she has an NCAA title with the indoor 4x400m relay. Demus’ time of 54.85 broke the World Junior record set in 1984 by Lesley Maxie of the USA (55.20) and in 2000 by Jana Pittman of Australia. The time is the fifth fastest in NCAA history.

“It felt real good. I wanted to win and score points for our team,” said Demus, a native of Los Angeles, CA. “I knew the race was going to be fast because we all came in with fast times. The time wasn’t unexpected but it was appreciated.”

Teammate Tiffany Ross was the runner-up with a personal best 55.22. Ross won the SEC title two weeks ago. Anther freshman, Shevon Stoddart, finished sixth at 57.86. Stoddart was slowed a bit as she literally had to jump over the defending champon Allison Beckford who fell in the back stretch and finished ninth.

Otukile Lekote won his third straight NCAA title in the 800m with a time of 1:45.17, breaking the stadium record. Lekote led from start to finish, running at 50.40 quarter. Lekote has won four straight SEC titles. He will run a leg of USC’s 4x400m relay tomorrow night.

“I came in to win the title and to set the NCAA record. I got the win, but not the record. I am not disappointed though because I can go after that record next year,” said Lekote, a native of Botswana. “My strategy was to take it out fast and not allow them to get back into it the second lap. I tired a bit at the end, but I help on. I am very happy and pleased to represent USC.”

The women’s 4x100m relay broke the school record to win the relay title, upsetting LSU and Southern Cal. It is the school’s first 4x100m relay title. USC ran a 43.12 to win the title with a line-up of Erica Whipple, Demetria Washington, Lisa Barber and Aleen Bailey. The time is a school record.

Ross later made the finals of the 100m hurdles with a time of 13.44, finishing fourth in her heat. Bailey was called for a false start in the women’s 100m and did not make the finals.

Sophomore Chris Steddum was fourth in the pole vault, hitting 17′ 4 1/2. He gains All-American honors and improves on his indoor finish of eighth.

“Chris is a fighter. He has the ability to win it in the next two years,” said Frye.

Gamecock Results From Day 3

Women’s Finals
W 4x100m relay – 43.12 – NCAA Champions! – school record Erica Whipple, Demetria Washington, Lisa Barber, Aleen Bailey

W 400m Hurdles
Lashinda Demus – 54.85 – NCAA Champion! – school record, World Junior Record, Bernie Moore track record

Tiffany Ross – 55.22 – runner-up – personal best – All-American Shevon Stoddart – 57.86 – sixth – All-American

M 800m
Otikile Lekote – 1:45.17 – NCAA Champion! – Bernie Moore track record – All-American – third straight 800m NCAA title

Pole Vault
Chris Steddum – fourth — 17′ 4 1/2 – All-American

M 4x100m Relay – 39.01 – fourth place – all four All-American
Duan Burriano, Andre Totton, James Law, Corey Taylor

W 100m hurdles
Tiffany Ross – 13.44 – fourth in heat – makes finals

W 100m
Aleen Bailey – charged with a false start – does not advance

USC freshman Lashinda Demus talks to CBS’ Bonnie Berstein after her win in the 400m hurdles.
USC’s NCAA champions tonight included Erica Whipple, Otukile Lekote, Demetria Washington, Lisa Barber, Shevon Stoddart (All-American in the 400m hurdles) and Aleen Bailey