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Jan. 13, 2005

Columbia, SC – USC Women’s track and field team opens the indoor season ranked No. 4 in the country, according to Trackwire’s preseason poll released Wednesday. Opening the season with the women’s No. 1 spot is Tennessee, followed by LSU and Florida. The men’s defending outdoor champion Arkansas starts off at No. 1, with Florida and Michigan tied at No. 2.

“It’s good to be ranked and mentioned in the same sentence with some of the other great schools,” Head Coach Curtis Frye said. “The rankings were well deserved and Tennessee, LSU and Florida are great teams. We’re looking forward to the season and competing against so many great programs. “

Several Gamecocks were ranked among the nation’s top athletes in Tracwire Women’s Dandy Dozen. Senior All-American Alexis Joyce and freshman standout Shalonda Solomon hold the No. 9 and No. 12 spots, respectively, in the 60m. The Gamecocks dominate the rankings in the 200m with senior All-American Erica Whipple and Solomon holding the No. 3 and 4 spots, while junior All-Americans Stephanie Smith and Khalilah Carpenter rank at ninth and tenth. Smith also holds the No. 7 spot in the 400m with freshman Natasha Hastings debuting at No. 3.

Also for the women’s, sophomore Ronnetta Alexander is ranked sixth in the 60m hurdles, while senior All-American Chelsea Hammond and junior All-American Kemesha Whitmire hold the No. 6 and No. 10 spots in the long jump. Hammond is also ranked fourth in the pentathlon. The women’s highest individual ranking comes at No. 2 in the 4x400m relay, which the Gamecocks finished runner-ups in the 2004 SEC Indoor Championship.

The Gamecocks open their indoor season this weekend at the Virginia Tech Invitational in Blacksburg, Va. The two-day meet begins Friday, January 14, with events wrapping up on Saturday.