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May 15, 2005

Nashville, Tenn. – South Carolina’s women’s team always aims to be the best and that’s exactly what they got on Sunday as they won the Southeastern Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championship title in Nashville, Tenn. The Gamecocks claimed the victory with 145.2 points. Arkansas finished second with 124.20, while Tennessee finished third with 108.33.

After an awesome performance by USC’s 400m hurdlers to move them from third to first place, the Gamecocks sealed the win with a top notch performance in the 4x400m relay that won the event and championship title with a time of 3:29.79.

“It was incredible, and I mean an incredible performance by a group of outstanding athletes,” said USC Head Coach Curtis Frye. “We have a wonderful support group in the parents, the staff and the university administration. I also have a great coaching staff, and the city of Columbia and the State of South Carolina has an incredible group to be proud of. I can’t say enough about what the University of South Carolina has put into this program and the efforts returned by the students, academically and athletically. I’m just proud of the hard work they’ve put in this weekend. It’s just incredible.”

Starting off the day, South Carolina junior All-American jumper Kemesha Whitmire set the tone for the final day of the SEC Championship leaping a personal best in the triple jump to claim the first SEC title for the Gamecocks.

Whitmire, who finished fourth in the long jump on Saturday with a leap of 20’7 ¾, came back for more, with a personal best jump of 43’7 in the second flight of the triple jump trials. Whitmire’s mark, the second best mark in school history, earned Whitmire her first SEC title and the first title for the Gamecocks in the competition.

“I was happy because I knew I needed to move up on the list for nationals,” Whitmire said she felt after learning her mark. “My goal is to jump 44’0 and after having a personal best last week and then today, I’m just going to keep it moving on up.”

Whitmire said her goal is to break the school record of 44’2 set by Rodena Barr in 2000.

“I’m very excited about Kemesha’s win. Her progression in the last few weeks has shown promise to this happening,” said USC Assistant Head Coach Delethea Quarles. “Kemesha has worked very hard and diligently this season and it has paid off. “We are looking forward to more great things from Kemesha at the NCAA regional and national meet.”

Also with an outstanding performance in the triple jump was sophomore jumper Reanna Townsend. Townsend leaped 38’1 ½ improving two feet for a personal best in the event.

“Reanna set an attitude of being willing to do anything she can for the sake of the championship. I think her willing attitude contributed to doing her best,” Quarles said. “This is an event that she does not compete in often, but she was willing to step up and do what she could for the championship.”

Also in the field, sophomore thrower Precious Akins scored for the second time for the Gamecocks with a fifth place finish in the shot put. Akins threw a personal best of 48’10 ¼. Junior pole vaulter Cheryl Terrio also had an outstanding performance for the Gamecocks with a third place finish at a height of 13′ 3 1/2″.

The Gamecocks kept up the championship spirit the rest of the day, claiming five more titles and the championship in the final day of competition.

Leading the Gamecocks was freshman All-American Shalonda Solomon, who ran on the 4x100m relay with freshman All-American Amberly Nesbitt, Alexis Joyce and Erica Whipple, to finish first with a time of 43.78. Solomon also won the 200m dash with a time of 22.74 and finished second in the 100m with a time of 11.29. Whipple also finished sixth in the 100m dash, while Joyce finished seventh. Sophomore All-American Stephanie Smith finished fourth in the 200m, while Whipple finished fifth and senior All-American Khalilah Carpenter finished sixth.

Freshman All-American Natasha Hastings won the 400m dash with a sizzling personal best of 51.94. Not far behind was junior All-American Tawana Watkins who finished fourth with a time of 53.20, while Smith finished sixth with a time of 53.51. Junior LaShay Shelton also ran the best 800m run of her career with a time of 2:06.30 for fourth place.

But it didn’t stop there for the Gamecocks, after a disappointing 100m hurdles, the Gamecocks went 1-2-3 in the 400m hurdles, improving them from third to first place in the competition with only two events left. Junior All-American Tiffany Ross-Williams came back for a dynamic run in the 400m hurdles to claim the title. Ross-Williams, who won the event at the Penn Relays just a couple of weeks ago, ran a season best of 55.68. Shevon Stoddart, who finished third in the 100m hurdles with a time of 13.41, finished second in the 400m hurdles with a time of 57.16. Watkins finished third with a time of 57.72.

In the final event of the day, Stoddart, Hastings, Ross-Williams and Smith ran a smoking 3:29.79 in the women’s 4x400m relay to claim the sixth title of the night.

The men’s team finished ninth in the championship with 29 points. Arkansas won the title with 169 points, followed by Florida in second and Tennessee in third.

Scoring for the men, thrower Joseph Schroeder finished sixth in the javelin with a distance of 197’0. Also in the field, freshman Derek Pressley added points for the men with a eighth place finish in the triple jump. Pressley leaped 48’6 ¼.

Junior Leroy Dixon ran a great 10.42 in the 100m dash for a sixth place finish, while senior All-American Rodney Martin finished eighth with a time of 10.55. Martin also came back in the 200m dash to score for the second time for the Gamecocks with a time of 20.92 for second place.

Junior William Emase claimed the second fourth place finish in the 800m run for the Gamecocks with a personal best time of 1:48.23. In men’s hurdle action, freshman All-American Jason Richardson finished sixth in the 400m hurdles with a time of 51.37.

The men’s 4x100m relay ran a very competitive relay to finish fifth with a time of 39.66 by junior Adrian Durant, Leroy Dixon, freshman All-American Jason Richardson and Martin. The men’s 4x400m relay, also ran by Durant, junior Thomas Hilliard and freshmen Jamil James and Keith Hinnant, improved their championship finish to ninth place finishing sixth in the event with a time of 3:10.92.

The Gamecocks will be returning to Columbia on Monday, May 16 at 4 p.m. at the Columbia Airport. Results will be available