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Nov. 12, 2003

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s Track and Field Program added four highly-acclaimed athletes, both on the national and international scene, to a program that is already among the nation’s elite as Jason Richardson, LeRoy Dixon, Shalonda Solomon and Natasha Hastings signed with the Gamecocks during the first day of the NCAA’s early signing period.

“In my opinion, this is the best combined men’s and women’s recruiting class that I have had during the early signing period,” said head coach Curtis Frye. “I am very pleased with this group. They are all outstanding students and athletes who have the potential to contribute early in the career at Carolina. Kevin Brown has done an incredible job recruiting them and our team helped contribute to that process as well.”

Richardson, from Cedar Hill High in Texas, is widely regarded as the nation’s top male high school track recruit. He won both the 110m and 400m hurdles at the World Youth Games as has posted a remarkable 110m hurdles time of 13.51 as a 17-year old high school junior. Richardson also has posted a time of 50.70 in the 400m hurdles. He chose South Carolina over Southern California and Texas.

“Jason Richardson’s 13.51 in the 110m hurdles at age 17 is as fast as Terrence Trammell ran at age 19. His 400m hurdles time of 50.70 is as fast as Kenneth Ferguson ran as a senior in high school. Those times say a lot.”

Dixon, from South Bend, Ind., by way of Kansas City Community College, is the top-ranked returning junior college sprinter in both the 100m and 200m after an outstanding freshman season. He chose South Carolina over LSU, TCU and Texas.

Solomon, from Long Beach Poly High in California, is ranked number one in the world among her age group in the 100m and 200m. She won junior gold medals in both events and owns the fastest 4×400 high school split time in Penn Relays history with a mark of 51 seconds. Solomon chose South Carolina over UCLA, Southern California, Texas and UNLV.

Hastings, from A.P. Randolph High in New York City, is the nation’s top-ranked 400m runner. She posted a time of 52.09 in the event during her junior season last spring, a time that would have placed her in the finals of the 2003 U.S. Outdoor Championships. Hastings chose South Carolina over Texas, UCLA, Southern California and Maryland.

“If Natasha Hastings can run another time of 52.09 in the 400m, she has a good chance to be a finalist at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2004,” said Frye.