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June 11, 2003


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – South Carolina advanced numerous athletes to event semifinals and finals during during day one of competition at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hornet Stadium on the campus of Sacramento State University. Two of South Carolina’s defending champions, Otukile Lekote and the women’s 4x100m relay, advanced to the next round. The meet runs through Saturday.

USC’s defending national champion 4x100m relay, retooled a bit from last year with the addition of Tiffany Ross and Alexis Joyce to the tandem of Erica Whipple and Aleen Bailey, will enter the finals seated No. 4 as they won their heat with a time of 43.55.

The NCAA’s two-time defending champion, Otukile Lekote, advanced to the semi-finals of the 800m with a time of 1:48.13 – finishing fifth in his heat. Finishing fifth in his heat did not bother Lekote in this heat as he considers himself a seasoned veteran running with other veterans. He ran his usual strategy, going through the split at 51.4.

“I was running to qualify for the semi-finals. My strategy was to qualify for the next round. Not winning did not bother me, it makes me stronger,” said Lekote, who has a personal best 1:44.47 (2001).

The Gamecocks saw Bailey and Whipple advance to the semifinals of the women’s 100m dash. Bailey, the 2003 NCAA East Regional Champion, ran a time of 11.45, the fastest preliminary time of the day. Whipple finished second in heat two to Bailey with a time of 11.59. The duo placed 1-2 in the semi-finals for the first collegiate berth in the finals for each. Whipple only competed in the 4x100m relay last year and Bailey false started last year in the finals.

“I am here this year to get some revenge after last year,” said Bailey.

Tiffany Ross advanced in the women’s 100m hurdles with a time of 13.43 and will be joined by teammate Antoinette Wilks, who ran a time of 13.59, in the event’s semifinal round on Thursday. Ross was running the first of three events on the day, as later she competed as a member of the 4x100m relay and then in the first round of the 400m hurdles.

Charles Ryan advanced to Thursday’s 110m hurdles semifinal round by posting a preliminary time of 13.83, placing fourth in heat one. Kenneth Ferguson and Corey Taylor did not advance out of the men’s 110m hurdles preliminary round. “I got out very well, probably one of my better starts. My leg started bothering me about 2./3 of the way through, but I gritted it out and finished fourth – advancing,” said Ryan, a native of Richmond, Calif. (an hour drive from Sacramento). Tony Allmond posted a season-best mark of 26’1.5″ to lead the field of men’s long jump finals qualifiers. Teammate Greig Cryer narrowly missed advancing to the field of 12 with a mark of 24′ 11.25″.

Fred Townsend currently stands in seventh place at the midpoint of the decathlon with 3,871 points. The remaining five events are slated for Thursday.

Ross and Shevon Stoddart placed 1-2 in their heat of the women’s 400m hurdles. Ross ran a time of 58.19 followed by Stoddart’s 58.38 as the duo advances to Thursday event semifinals. Ross was the runner-up in 2002 while Stoddart finished sixth.

Kenneth Ferguson was second in his heat of the men’s 400m hurdles to reach Thursday’s event semifinals.

Thursday’s events begin at 10:15 a.m. PDT with the women’s 200m dash preliminary round. Complete NCAA Championship results can be found at