June 14, 2003
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Aleen Bailey completed a sweep of the 100 and 200m dash races and Otis Harris finished second in the 400m dash by sixth-thousandths of a second highlighting the final day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium. In all, the Gamecocks have totaled two national championships (both by Bailey), 22 All-Americans and four school records over the course of the four-day competition. Miki Barber finished her career with 20 All-Americans, second only to Demetria Washington’s 22 in her career in school history.
It is the eighth straight year USC’s women have finished in the top 10 (joining only UCLA and Texas) and the second straight year for the men in the top 10. Once again, keeping the NCAA title in the SEC – LSU’s women won as did Arkansas’ men.
“Our women had a great meet under the conditions – running lots of rounds like everyone else here. Aleen Bailey had two great wins and I can’t say enough about her. Tiffany Ross ran 11 races this week which is incredible. I am happy to be the coach of the women. Miki Barber also finished wonderful in the 4x400m relay. The future is still very bright with Erica Whipple, Tiffany, the relay – just incredible performance,” said Frye.
“Our men put forth a great effort. This is a tough track meet. To put forth the effort we did, I am very pleased with them,” said Frye. “I am proud of our 4x400m relay on the men’s side, proud of our coaching staff and proud to be associated with a great institution.”
Aleen Bailey completed a sweep of the 100 and 200m dash races by capturing the 200m crown with a time of 22.65 to become the first woman to sweep the two events since Debbie Ferguson of Georgia in 1998. Teammate Erica Whipple placed fifth in the race with a time of 23.17. Bailey gained her third All-American honor of the meet and the ninth of her career while Whipple also gained her third All-American honor totaling six in her career.
“It’s wonderful. I am very excited that I came here to help my team win the national title. I went out there and put my all out on the line and came out victorious,” said Bailey. “I hope I did enough to help them. I was really surprised because where she was I thought she was leading. I dug deep and thought about my teammates and how much they are depending on me and how much they mean to me so I dug deeper.”
Otis Harris broke the school-record he set earlier in the meet with a time of 44.57 to finish in a dead heat with Adam Steele of Minnesota. After photo analysis, Steele was awarded the title by sixth-thousandths of a second (44.57563 to 44.57569). Harris bested his own USC mark of 45.08, set the previous day in the semifinals, which broke his previous school standard of 45.28, set during his SEC Championship final run. In the process, he gained his sixth All-American honor.
“I stayed within my race and ran the race I have been trained to run and worked on with my coach,” said Harris. “God blessed me to be healthy. I got eighth in this meet last year and have never been this high in it. I competed to win and that’s the most important thing. I congratulate Adam Steele for the win and hope we are both back next year.”
Both of USC’s 4×400 relay teams came up short in their title defense. The women’s quartet of Ross, Miki Barber, Shevon Stoddart and Tawana Watkins ran a time of 3:31.07 for a third-place finish. The men’s foursome of Kenneth Ferguson, Otukile Lekote, Jonathan Fortenberry and Harris posted a time of 3:02.86 to place third.
“It’s been a great meet, my last meet of my NCAA career,” said Barber. “The girls ran really well and we put it on the line.”
“It was crazy at the exchange. I ran into Ricky Harris (Florida) – I could have gotten out faster but there was a lot of bumping and grinding to get the sticks,” said Harris. “We’ve had a lot of people hurt. For us to come in here and run 3:02 says a lot – shows a lot of heart from my teammates cause it hasn’t been a great meet for us individually but it’s still a great run for the team.”
Tiffany Ross placed ninth in the women’s 100m hurdles with a time of 13.14. In the process, she earned the eighth All-American honor of her career and her third of the 2003 Championships. The workhorse of the USC women’s team was competing in her ninth race of the meet with another to come as part of the 4x400m relay team.
Complete NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship results can be found at www.ncaasports.com.