May 31, 2003
FAIRFAX, Va. – Tiffany Ross stole the show for South Carolina by capturing four Regional Championships while Otis Harris claimed the 400m dash title on the final day of competition at the NCAA East Regional on the campus of George Mason University. The women’s team finished with 77 points as runner-up to Florida while the men’s team totaled 58 points to place third overall. Action was delayed by nearly two hours near the end of the day’s schedule because of heavy rains and lightning.
“We had an excellent meet and got everyone that we expected through this meet,” said head coach Curtis Frye. “On the men’s side some people came alive. Otukile Lekote is back and ran a great race in the 800m final. Today we had a big performance from Otis Harris and Jonathan Fortenberry to get to nationals. Tiffany Ross had the greatest meet she has had since she has been at Carolina. Aleen Bailey had a fantastic run by winning the 100m dash. Her effort at end of mile relay showed the heart of our program. They find a way to step up and they will not quit.”
Ross began her day of domination by helping USC win the 4×100 relay. The sophomore ran the first leg ahead of teammates Erica Whipple, Alexis Joyce and Bailey as the quartet posted a winning time of 43.26, nearly a full second ahead of second-place Miami, Fla.
Ross continued to collect championships by winning the 100m hurdles title with a season-best time of 13.12. She later went on to a title in the 400m hurdles by running a season-best time of 55.89 before capping the night by running the second leg of the Regional Champion 4×400 relay team.
“I am very excited about the way today went,” said Ross. “It was great feeling to win two individual races and two races with my teammates. My goal was to help the team win this regional and advance to nationals.”
Bailey emerged victorious in the women’s 100m dash and narrowly missed a career-best time by posting a time of 11.17, her season’s best. Teammate Whipple finished fourth with a time of 11.38 to advance to the NCAA Championships with Bailey.
The duo of Bailey and Whipple also finished strong in the 200m dash, taking second and third place in the event. Bailey ran a season-best time of 22.64, finishing as the runner-up by just one-hundredth of a second, while Whipple posted a time of 23.15.
Otis Harris and Jonathan Fortenberry each advanced to the NCAA Championships in the 400m dash. Harris posted a time of 45.68 to win the race while Fortenberry posted a time of 46.23 for a fifth-place finish.
“I had a kick at the end of the 400m dash to pull ahead,” said Harris. “That is something that I have been blessed with so I try to use it as best I can. I feel good about winning the Regional but I have work to do to prepare for nationals.”
Lekote finished as runner-up in the 800m with a time of 1:47.05 and Corey Taylor ran a time of 13.78 in the men’s 110m hurdles to place second as each advanced to the NCAA Championships.
The USC men’s 4×100 relay placed fifth to advance to the NCAA Championships as the team including Adrian Durant, Shamus Singletary, and Taylor ran a time of 39.93.
USC’s 4×400 women’s team of Shevon Stoddart, Ross, Tawana Watkins and Bailey took the Regional crown. Watkins posted the fastest split time of the season to help lead the quartet to an overall time of 3:35.45. The men’s team placed third with a time of 3:07.26 to advance to nationals.
In other Gamecock results: Adrian Durant finished seventh in the 200m dash (21.23) and eighth in the 100m dash (10.69) … Shevon Stoddart placed sixth in the 400m dash (53.13) … Jared Farabee placed sixth in the pole vault after winning a jump-off (16’1.25″) … Chris Steddum finished 12th in the pole vault (16’1.25″) … Shevon Stoddart placed 10th in the 400m hurdles (1:00.48).
Complete NCAA East Regional results can be found on George Mason University’s athletics website, www.gmusports.com.
USC next heads to the NCAA Championships beginning June 11 in Sacramento, Calif. The meet spans four days at Hornet Field on the campus of Sacramento State University.