Jan. 8, 2004
Following up a fourth-place indoor finish and top-ten outdoor finish, the USC men’s track is aiming for bigger and better things in 2004. The Gamecocks return a trio of athletes who finished as NCAA runner-up during their career and will be chasing SEC and national titles.
The Gamecocks begin their 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. USC’s 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
USC features a formidable duo in the 400m with Otis Harris and Jonathan Fortenberry leading the charge. Harris won the SEC Outdoors 400 title and finished as NCAA runner-up in the event after a photo finish. During the season, Harris broke his own school record on four different occasions.
Fortenberry, who ran the anchor leg on the 4x400m relay team that captured the 2002 national title, battled through injuries during the 2003 outdoor season and never was healthy enough to repeat his previous season’s performance. Healthy and running strong during the indoor season, Fortenberry earned Southeast Co-Athlete of the Year honors (with teammate Otukile Lekote) from the U.S. Track Coaches Association. He turned in a second-place SEC finish and finished fourth at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
The Gamecocks will be looking for new athletes to fill the spring roles. A leading candidate is sophomore Adrian Durant, who ran for his native U.S. Virgin Islands at the 2003 World Championships in Paris after his first collegiate season.
Senior Charles Ryan, who transferred to Carolina in 2003 from UCLA, will be counted on heavily this season after being slowed with injuries during his first season with the Garnet and Black. When healthy, Ryan was nationally ranked in the 110m hurdles and has shown the potential to be a high-scorer at the SEC level and contend for a berth in the NCAA final.
Senior Fred Townsend returns to lead the men’s decathletes after earning his first All-American honor in the decathlon last season, capping a solid outdoor season with a ninth-place NCAA Outdoor finish and a sixth-place finish at the SEC Outdoor Championships. At the SEC’s, Townsend set a new conference decathlon record by posting a time of 14.23 in the 110m hurdles. During the indoor season, Townsend finished third in the pentathlon at the SEC Indoor Championships. In 2004, he will look to pick up where he left off and will be in contention for SEC Championships and NCAA scoring.
Also leading the way in the multi events will be junior Greg Royster. A former junior All-American, Royster had a solid season in 2003 and set career bests in the long jump and pole vault. He finished third in the Junior National meet following his freshman season and will look to regain that form and contend at the conference and national levels.
After an outstanding first season at USC, long jumper Tony Allmond returns to chase SEC and NCAA titles. Allmond saved his best for last in 2003, shattering the school’s long jump record and finished second in his first NCAA Outdoor Championships meet. The junior college transfer also earned All-American honors indoors and recorded a third-place finish at the SEC Indoor Championships and a fifth-place finish during the league’s outdoor meet.
Tony Allmond set a school long jump record in 2003 on his way to a second-place NCAA Outdoor finish.
Also returning for the Gamecocks is Greig Cryer, who enjoyed a fine freshman season, including a seventh-place long jump finish and 10th-place triple jump finish at the SEC Outdoor Championships. Following his first collegiate season, Cryer had an impressive showing at the U.S. Junior Championships by finishing third in the long jump and earning a position as first alternate on the USA Junior National Team.
Jason Jackamonis will be a contributor in 2004 after a solid first season at USC after transferring.
Former NCAA pole vault runner-up Chris Steddum returns for the indoor season in 2004 and looks to conclude his collegiate career in grand fashion. Last season, he earned SEC Outdoor Athlete of the Week honors in May after winning the Orange and Purple Classic at Clemson and was runner-up at the SEC Indoor Championships. Earlier in the year, Steddum was runner-up at the SEC Indoor Championships and should contend this season for the league title and on the national level.
Pole vaulter Chris Steddum will look to contend at the SEC and national level as a senior.
Also returning for the Gamecocks is Trey Bell. Last season as a freshman, Bell posted four top-ten finishes outdoors and should improve to become a potential SEC scorer in 2004.
William Emase steps into the role as USC’s leading male distance runner after the departure of Otukile Lekote. Emase finished sixth in the 1500m at the SEC Outdoor Championships and has the potential to also score in the 800m.
Shawn Cunningham could also make an impact in distance races. Matt Schreiber and Steve Mance returns to lead the steeplechasers and each could be scorers at the SEC level this season.
Adam Bishop, Scott Alsup and Tony Antonio lead of group of USC throwers that could score big at the conference level while competing to qualify for nationals. All three qualified for the NCAA East Regional in 2003 and look to build upon that experience this season.
Bishop, a senior captain, leads the group and when healthy, ranks among the top shot put throwers in the SEC. Alsup has shown promise in the javelin after a ninth-place finish at the SEC Outdoor Championships.
Antonio placed fifth in the outdoor discus at SEC’s and sixth in the event at the NCAA East Regional with a personal best throw. After a strong first season as a Gamecock, he has the potential to make strides at the conference level and compete for the SEC Championship.