Jan. 7, 2004
After strong indoor and outdoor seasons in 2003, South Carolina’s women’s track and field team looks to get back to the National Championship level it enjoyed in 2002, when they captured the school’s first NCAA title.
The Gamecocks will have plenty of talent available for a run at the SEC and NCAA crowns in 2004. USC returns five female athletes who earned All-American status in 2003, a year in which the women’s squad finished among the top ten outdoors for the eighth consecutive season, becoming one of only three schools to make that claim, and placed second indoors.
USC begins its indoor season on Jan. 10, and will host the USC Invitational in Columbia on Feb. 21, before concluding with the SEC Championships and NCAA Championships. The outdoor schedule begins at home on March 19 with the Weems Baskin Relays and includes the South Carolina State Championships meet in Columbia on April 7.
Sprints and Relays
While Carolina no longer has Miki Barber and Demetria Washington running the quarter-mile, the cupboard is anything but bare. Leading Carolina’s women’s returnees is sprinter Erica Whipple, who earned the SEC’s Commissioner’s Trophy for her performance at the league’s outdoor championships. The junior won her first conference crown with a personal-best time of 22.82 in the 200m and posted a school-record 100m time of 11.15 on her way to finishing second.
Erica Whipple returns as USC’s top sprinter.
The women will also feature Lashinda Demus, the reigning NCAA Indoor Champion in the 400m, and talented returnee Tawana Watkins, the 2003 U.S. Junior 400m hurdles champion. Shevon Stoddart, a four-time All-American, will also be a factor in relay success and in the 400m.
Alexis Joyce returns to compete in sprints and on the 4×100 relay team. Last season, she earned her first All-American honor by running the third-leg on USC’s second-place outdoor 4×100 team.
USC returns Demus, who will lead a group of intermediate hurdlers that rank among the best in the nation.
Stoddart also has potential to be a SEC scorer and NCAA qualifier. In 2003, she was among the nation’s top 400m hurdles and earned All-American status.
Watkins gained valuable experience during her freshman season and looks to be a key contributor in 2004. She followed her first collegiate campaign by winning the 400m hurdles crown at the United States Junior Championships.
While the Gamecocks lost Antoinette Wilks in the heptathlon, Chelsea Hammond returns to lead USC in the event. The junior earned the first All-American honors of her collegiate career with a 10th-place NCAA Outdoor finish in the long jump. During the SEC Outdoor Championships, Hammond posted a personal-best score of 5,022 in the heptathlon on her way to recording a fourth-place finish. This season, she has the potential to contend for the SEC title in the event and looks to improve on her 2003 NCAA placing.
Chelsea Hammond leads USC in the multi events and jumps.
Hammond will be a key contributor in jumps in addition to being one of USC’s top multi-event athletes. Rhashida Abdul-Malik and Kemesha Whitmire will join her in the jumps. A senior in 2004, Abdul-Malik will bring leadership with the potential to post results that would the best of her Gamecock career.
Whitmire finished ninth in the triple jump at the SEC Outdoor Championships as a freshman and made a splash on the national scene after the collegiate season with a third-place long jump finish at the U.S. Junior National Championships.
The Gamecocks return a pair of vaulters who have the potential to make their mark in the conference as Rachel Farabee and Cheryl Terrio showed promise in 2003. Terrio placed ninth in the pole vault at the SEC Outdoor Championships as a freshman and seeks an improvement in the standings this year.
Carolina’s top cross country runner, Jenny Lake, returns to lead the distance runners. As a junior captain, Lake will provide leadership and has the potential to score. In 2003, she placed sixth in the 3000m at the SEC’s and was a first team SEC and NCAA All-Region honoree in cross country.
In the middle distance races, USC returns Boikhutso Ramomene, who showed promise in 2003, along with Shay Shelton, a highly-touted recruit who saw limited action as a freshman. Tawana Watkins may also add depth to the group after competing in the 800m during her freshman season.
India Odum leads the women’s throwers and provides senior leadership among the group She placed sixth at the SEC Outdoor Championships and scored at the conference’s indoor meet in the shot put. This season, she looks to push for more of a scoring role at the conference level while seeking to qualify for the NCAA’s.
Nicole Kendrick, a former member of the U.S. Junior Team and runner-up at Junior Nationals, was runner-up in the shot put at the SEC Indoor Championships last season. She did not compete outdoors and looks to make a mark on the conference and national scene during her junior season.
Katie Desin, a javelin thrower who showed potential as a freshman, and Carolina Ruppert, a redshirt in 2003, also will add depth to the throwers.