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Jan. 16, 2005


Blacksburg, Va. – South Carolina track and field earned 26 top five finishes, including four titles and nine NCAA qualifiers last weekend at the Virginia Tech Invitational in Blacksburg, Va.

The Gamecocks dominated the women’s 60m, earning five of the top six finishes. Senior All-American Alexis Joyce led the event with a first place finish time of 7.43. Finishing in third place was senior All-American Erica Whipple (7.51), while freshman Amberlee Nesbit (7.53)started off her collegiate career with a fourth place finish in the event. All-American Khalilah Carpenter (7.56) came in fifth, while freshman Shalonda Solomon (7.56) debuted in sixth place.

In the 200m finals, Whipple finished in second place with a time of 23.73, while freshmen duo Solomon and Natasha Hastings earned third and fourth places, with times of 24.05 and 24.06, respectively.

Also for the women’s, senior All-American Stephanie Smith won the 400m title with a time of 53.69. Closing in behind Smith were teammates Hastings (53.90) and Tiffany Ross (54.15) for second and third place, while Tawana Watkins finished sixth. Ross also placed second in the 60m hurdles with a NCAA qualifying time of 8.41. Distance runner Karen Wigal ran a 18:02 in the 5000m to earn third place in the event.

USC’s women’s 4x400m relay teams took first and third places, one which had an NCAA qualifying time of 3:37. The 4x800m relay finished second with a time of 9:23.

In field events, Monica Bozenski finished second in the high jump after clearing 1.60m. All-American Kemesha Whitmire jumped to a fourth place finish and a NCAA qualifying mark of 6.10m in the long jump and 12.36m for a second place finish in the triple jump. Precious Akins threw a distance of 15.79m in the weight throw, while also earning sixth place in the shot put.

The men’s team was led by senior captain Rodney Martin and Leroy Dixon, the top two finishers in the 60m. Martin won the event with a time of 6.76, while also running an NCAA qualifying time of 21.02 in the 200m. Dixon earned second place in the 60m with a time of 6.82 and finished third in the 300m. Freshman Jason Richardson also made his mark on the track with his first collegiate performance earning fourth place in the 200m (21.70) and second in the 60m hurdles with a time NCAA qualifying time of 7.90. Distance runner Shawn Cunningham came in fifth place in the 800m, while the Gamecocks’ 4x400m relay team finished third and the distance medley relay finished in fifth place.

In men’s field events, Derrick Pressley finished fourth in the triple jump with a leap of 14.65m.

USC’s NCAA qualifiers from the Virginia Tech Invitational are Alexis Joyce (W 60m- 7.38), Tiffany Ross (W 60m H- 8.41; 400m-54.15 ), Erica Whipple (200m- 23.73), Stephanie Smith (400m- 53.69), Natasha Hastings (400m- 53.90), Kemesha Whitmire (long jump- 6.10m), Jason Richardson (M 60m H- 7.90), and Rodney Martin (200m- 21.02).

The Gamecocks will be back in action next weekend at the Clemson Invitational. Results will be available following the meet at