March 9, 2004
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s Fred Townsend has been named Southeast Region Athlete of the Year by the United States Track Coaches Association. The honor makes Townsend eligible for the organization’s National Athlete of the Year honors. Awards will be presented Thursday, March 11 in Fayetteville, Ark., ahead of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Townsend is the nation’s third-ranked athlete in the heptathlon according to this week’s Trackwire “Dandy Dozen” rankings. He placed second in the event with 5,581 points at the SEC Indoor Championships in Lexington, Ky. Townsend’s performance earned him a No. 4 seeding in this weekend’s NCAA Indoor Championships.
Townsend earned SEC Athlete of the Week honors last month after a record-setting performance.
A native of Baton Rouge, La., Townsend claimed victories in the 55m hurdles, the pole vault and the high jump at the Gamecock Indoor Open in Columbia on Feb. 21. His winning time of 7.39 in the 55m hurdles set a new USC venue record and earned him SEC Athlete of the Year accolades.
Townsend, a senior and team captain, earned All-American honors for the first time last season, placing ninth in the high jump at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Last season a pair of Gamecocks shared the Southeast Region Athlete of the Year honor as the U.S. Track Coaches Association honored Jonathan Fortenberry and Otukile Lekote for their indoor season achievements.
The USTCA also announced its final “Team Power Rankings”, with the USC women finished fourth and the men placing 11th, just one-half point out of a top-ten spot. Carolina’s women placed first in the rankings last year to claim the school’s first “poll title”. The rankings, compiled by Dave Nielsen, head coach at Idaho State, ranks teams on the basis of quality of athletic performance, team depth and dual meet scoring potential.
USC athletes, including Townsend, begin two days of competition at the NCAA Indoor Championships on Friday, March 12.