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June 24, 2005

Carson, Calif. – South Carolina track and field athletes kicked-off competition at the USATF Junior and Senior Outdoor Championships Thursday in Carson, Calif., where freshman All-American Amberly Nesbitt became the first Gamecock to earn a spot on the national team.

Competing in both the preliminary and final of the 100m dash on Thursday, Nesbitt ran for the first and last time in the USATF Junior Championship. Finishing first in her heat with a time of 11.75, Nesbitt earned an automatic advance to the final, which took place shortly after 7 p.m. pacific time. Concerned with a discomfort in her hamstring experienced during the preliminary, Nesbitt came back for the final determined to earn her first trip to the Pan Am Games.

“The race was not one of my better races, but I’m just happy that I made the team,” Nesbitt said after running 11.67 for a second place finish. The top two finishers automatically make the USA Junior National Team that competes at the Pan Am Games in Ontario, Canada at the end of July.

“We are so excited. She is one of America’s best,” said USC Head Coach Curtis Frye. “Last year she got injured and didn’t get this opportunity. So, I feel so blessed that Amberly is getting her chance to shine. She did a great job representing us indoors and now she’s made an international team. It’s a privilege and honor to have someone like her to represent our school.”

In other events, sophomore All-American Stephanie Smith ran in the preliminary of the senior 400m dash with some of track and field’s bests in her heat, including Monique Hennagan (Nike) and former Gamecock Demetria Washington (Nike). Smith finished second in heat one with a time of 52.26, earning an automatic advance to tomorrow’s semifinal. Hennagan won the heat with a time of 51.80, while Washington finished sixth running 53.27.

Also competing on Thursday, was junior All-American Tiffany Ross-Williams. The 2005 SEC Outdoor 400m Hurdles Champion, joined former Gamecock and 2004 Olympian Lashinda Demus in the preliminary of the event, both earning advancements to the semifinal. Ross-Williams finished second in heat three with a time of 56.10, after holding on to the lead until edged in the last few meters by NCAA Champion Shauna Smith. Demus won heat two with a time of 56.68.

“These are two mature athletes who have been on internationals teams before,” Frye said about Ross-Williams and Smith. “We’re pleased to have them move on to the next round. Now they’re in the top 16. From here, it’s all about advancing. It’ll be a big run tomorrow.”

The Gamecocks will kick-off action on Friday with freshman All-American Natasha Hastings competing in the first round of the junior 400m dash at 3:40 p.m. pacific time, followed by the senior 400m hurdles semifinals with Ross-Williams and former Gamecock Demus at 4:50 p.m. Also competing on Friday is junior All-American jumper Kemesha Whitmire in the long jump, freshman All-American Shalonda Solomon in the 200m preliminary. For the men’s team, senior All-American Rodney Martin and junior All-American Leroy Dixon will compete the senior 100m dash preliminary. Results will be available at