June 12, 2003
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Aleen Bailey and Erica Whipple moved on to the finals of the women’s 200m dash while Tiffany Ross, in the women’s 400m and 110m hurdles, and Otis Harris, in the men’s 400m dash, advanced to their event finals to highlight USC’s second day of competition of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hornet Stadium on the campus of Sacramento State University.
With the first two days key to qualifying for the finals, USC has had six athletes advance to the finals in four events, with the addition of the women’s 4x100m relay; and one athlete advance to tomorrow’s semifinals.
“Overall, it was a luke-warm day and the glass is half-full,” said USC Head Coach Curtis Frye. “On the women’s we had a great day. Tiffany Ross was able to reach the finals in both the 100m and 400m hurdles. Our 4×400 relay team reached the finals with a healthy Miki Barber. Aleen Bailey and Erica Whipple both had great days and reached the 200m dash finals. We have a shot at finishing in the top five. Texas has had a perfect meet so far and LSU, North Carolina and UCLA have had strong showings. We have all the major players in the game and it is a great meet to be involved in.”
“We did not have a great day with the men,” continued Frye. “Kenneth Ferguson ran hurt and posted a 51.7 in the 400m hurdles and did not reach the finals, but was able to be an All-American. Fred Townsend had a great decathlon with personal records in the pole vault and a win in the high jump. Otis Harris advanced in the 400m dash but Jonathan Fortenberry stumbled out of the block in that race and injured his leg. Otukile Lekote struggled and was unable to get to the 800m finals which was a big loss of potential points for us.”
South Carolina junior Fred Townsend finished ninth with 7320 points in the decathlon at the NCAA Track and Field Championships. Townsend competed in his the first decathlon at the NCAA meet, finishing sixth at the SEC Championships in May.
USC’s defending NCAA champion 4x400m relays both advanced to Saturday’s final.
The women’s 4x400m relay, the defending champions who set the collegiate record at this meet last year, finished second in their heat of the prelims to advance to the finals at 3:33.14 – posting the fifth fastest time. The team was made up of Shevon Stoddart (54.9 split), Tiffany Ross (52.3), Twanya Watkins (52.8) and Miki Barber (52.3).
“Coach Frye told me to run a 52. I am happy I made it to 52. Florida has a great anchor leg. I have been injured the past two months so I didn’t know how fast I could go. I know now I can go faster in the finals. We want to keep the title in South Carolina,” said Barber, who has been a member of xx NCAA champion relays at USC. “I didn’t qualify for the 400m earlier today so I had to make up for it somewhere.”
The men’s 4x400m relay was third in their heat, crossing the finish line at 3:04.94, advancing to the finals. The team was made-up of Adrian Durant, Kenneth Ferguson, Otukile Lekote and Otis Harris.
Townsend won the high jump on the first day and the 110m hurdles the second day. Townsend was just 26 points out of eighth.
“I think it went pretty good. I didn’t do as well as I have a couple times this year, but it’s pretty good. The wind was terrible. It doesn’t really effect you unless you pay attention to it though,” said Townsend, a native of Baton Rouge, La. “I am pretty satisfied, but my throwing events were again my week events. I need to work on my technique in those events so I don’t have to worry about my last throw.”
Shevon Stoddart and Kenneth Ferguson did not advance to the finals of the 400m hurdles, but were named All-American with their ninth place finishes.
Already qualified for the finals of the 100m, the duo of Bailey and Whipple advanced to the finals of the women’s 200m dash. Bailey won her heat with a time of 22.89, while Whipple finished third in her heat with a time of 22.95 to move on.
“I felt like I used a lot of energy in this race tonight,” said Whipple. “I didn’t do much in the warm-ups because I was just trying to save my legs for the race.”
Earlier in the day, in the preliminaries of the women’s 200m dash, Bailey ran a 22.76, the fastest time of the preliminaries, to win her heat while teammate Whipple also won her heat, recording a time of 23.02, the second fastest of prelims.
“I have been working Coach Frye on my eight steps driving out and then we get up and tap all the way,” said Bailey. “I was in lane eight so I was not sure were everyone was so I just ran all the way.”
In the women’s 100m hurdles, Tiffany Ross advanced to the finals with a time of 13.21, good for fourth in her heat. Antoinette Wilks finished ninth in her heat and did not advance (13.89).
Later in the day, Ross, the two-time defending SEC 400m hurdles champion, advanced to the finals of the intermediate hurdles. Her semifinal time of 57.64 was third-best in her heat. Teammate Shevon Stoddart placed ninth by running a 57.45 to earn All-American status.
“I ran the first part of the race pretty well,” said Ross. “Coming off the turn I kind of relaxed because I have a lot of races to run. I am going to handle my business tomorrow in the finals.”
SEC Champion Otis Harris won his heat in the men’s 400m dash with a time of 45.69 to advance to the semifinals. Teammate Jonathan Fortenberry did not finish his race due to an Achilles injury.
“It felt easy coming down the last stretch of the race,” said Harris. “I am blessed that I am healthy and it felt good running today.”
Otukile Lekote fell short in his bid for a third consecutive men’s 800m title. He did not advance to the field of eight finalists after placing ninth with a time of 1:48.09 in the semifinals.
“I am not sure what happened in my race,” said Lekote. “I lost and am very disappointed, but I still have the 4x400m relay.”
In the semifinals of the men’s 110m hurdles, Chuckie Ryan, battling a hamstring injury, placed sixth in his heat with a time of 13.90, but did not advance.
Former NCAA champion Miki Barber finished third in her heat of the women’s 400m dash at 53.21, but did not advance. The senior has been battling a hamstring injury since mid-April, but should be ready for the 4x400m relay and USC’s attempt to defend its title.
Friday’s events begin at 10 a.m. PDT with the men’s hammer throw final and the 100m hurdles of the women’s heptathlon. A total of 16 event championships will be determined on Friday, with the final day of the meet coming Saturday. Complete NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship results can be found at www.ncaasports.com.