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May 14, 2005

Nashville, Tenn. – A four hour delay due to severe weather conditions in Nashville on Saturday did not stop the Gamecocks from coming out and showing what they were capable of doing at the Southeastern Conference Championship.

Just as they started the finals of the women’s long jump, announcements were made to clear the field due to severe thunderstorms in the area. Junior All-American Kemesha Whitmire, who was on the runway had to wait several hours before getting her chance to put the first points on the board for the women’s team. Whitmire, who finished fourth in the event with a leap of 20’7 ¾, earned five points for the Gamecocks. Just behind Whitmire, was senior All-American Chelsea Hammond who finished fifth, also with a mark of 20’7 ¾ earning four points. The event winner was Tennessee’s Tianna Madison, who leaped a world leading mark of 22’8 ½. In the men’s long jump, junior jumper Greig Cryer, who has struggled with a hamstring injury throughout the outdoor season, finished fifth in the event with a leap of 24’8 ½, earning six points for the men’s team.

Hammond also scored in the high jump with another fifth place finish for the Gamecocks. Hammond, who broke a school-outdoor record in the event during the heptathlon competition on Thursday with a jump of 5’11 ¼, leaped 5’7 on Saturday, earning four points for USC women’s team. Also scoring in the high jump, was junior Monica Bozenski, who finished tied for sixth in the event with a leap of 5’5.

In other field events, sophomore thrower Precious Akins had a dynamic performance in the women’s discus. After entering the national rankings for the first time this week, Akins finished third in the event with a throw of 174’8, earning six points with the highest Gamecock finish of the day.

The Gamecocks also lit up the track for the second night in a row, with more than 10 qualifiers for Sunday’s finals. The first of the running events was the men’s 1500m. Freshman Matt Hoffman represented the men’s team well with a personal best of 3:57.45, while senior Academic All-American Jenny Lake advanced to Sunday’s final after winning her heat with the second-fastest time of the day of 4:29.91, a personal best and the fourth fastest time in school history. Freshman Rebecca Chain finished 18th overall with a personal best of 4:41.86.

Next on the track was the men’s 110m hurdles, led by freshman All-American Jason Richardson. Richardson, who qualified on Friday for Sunday’s finals in the 400m hurdles, had the fourth fastest time of 13.81 in the 110m hurdles, also advancing to the finals. The women’s hurdlers made their presence known for the second consecutive day, advancing all three athletes whom competed in the event. Finishing second, third and fourth, the Gamecocks were led by sophomore All-American Ronnetta Alexander who had a personal best of 13.22 to finish with the second fastest time of the day and advancing to Sunday’s final. Finishing with the third fastest time of the day was junior All-American Tiffany Ross-Williams with 13.31, followed by senior All-American Shevon Stoddart who ran 13.52, both advancing to Sunday’s final.

In the men’s 100m dash, senior All-American Rodney Martin, who already qualified for the 200m finals, ran 10.39, the fifth-fastest time. Following not far behind Martin, was junior Leroy Dixon, who ran the eighth-fastest time of the day with 10.47. For the women, freshman All-American Shalonda Solomon who was ranked No. 1 in the conference, finished the night in the same spot. Solomon ran 11.36 to finish with the fastest time of the day in the 100m trials. Also qualifying to advance to the finals were senior All-Americans Erica Whipple with a time of 11.56 and Alexis Joyce with a time of 11.58.

In the 400m dash, freshman Keith Hinnant ran 46.71 for 11th place in the trials, earning a regional qualifying mark, but not qualifying for the finals. The women’s team, however was led by freshman All-American Natasha Hastings, who came out and ran her best time of the season. Hastings, who had the top time of the night, ran 52.66 as the top qualifier. Following close behind Hastings was sophomore All-American Stephanie Smith who won her heat with the second fastest time of the day of 53.10. Also qualifying to advance in the 400m was junior All-American Tawana Watkins who ran 53.28, the fifth fastest qualifying time.

“We had a good day today. We got everybody through and we had some athletes who had great performances to give us some points.” said USC Head Coach Curtis Frye. “Arkansas is the big leader, but we think we have a chance at the title. We’re healthy and we’re looking to have a big day with great performances tomorrow.”

The men’s team finished day three of the SEC Outdoor Championship in 11th place with a total of five points, while the women’s team finished in seventh with 20.20. Leading the women’s scoring is Arkansas with 52.20 points, while Tennessee and Arkansas are tied in the men’s scoring with 43 points.

The final day of competition will kick-off on Sunday morning with the men’s pole vault rescheduled for 12 p.m., while the women’s triple jump and men’s shot put will follow at 1 p.m. The running events will start at 6 p.m. with the men’s 4x100m relay, followed by the women’s at 6:10 p.m. Results will be available following the competition at