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June 25, 2005

Carson, Calif. –

South Carolina men’s track and field team made their first appearance, while the women’s team continued to advance athletes on Friday at the USATF Junior and Senior Outdoor Championships at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

Three-time All-American and 2004 World Junior Champion Natasha Hastings started off the competition for the Gamecocks in the preliminary of the 400m dash with a strong winning performance in the fourth and final heat with a time of 52.76. She will advance to Saturday’s final where she will have another chance to earn a spot on the USA Junior National team set to compete at the 2005 Pan Am Games in Ontario, Canada at the end of July.

Approximately an hour later, junior All-American Tiffany Ross-Williams, the SEC 400m Hurdles Champion and the third place finisher at the NCAA Championship, competed in the semifinal of the event hoping to advance to Saturday’s final. Coming out strong, Ross-Williams finished third in the first of two heats with a time of 54.74. Former Gamecock Lashinda Demus (Nike) won the heat with a time of 54.19.

“I felt comfortable about my race,” said Ross-Williams. “I made it through the rounds. Now, tomorrow I just have to get in the top three so I can make the team.”

Ross-Williams will compete in Saturday’s final, where finishing in the top three will earn her a spot on the USA National Team.

The senior women’s 100m dash preliminary consisted of current and former Gamecocks. Running in the first heat was senior All-American Erica Whipple. A member of the 2002 National Championship team and a significant contributor in the 2005 SEC and NCAA East Regional Championships, Whipple finished fourth in heat one of the 100m dash with a time of 11.61. In the third and final heat, freshman All-American Shalonda Solomon made her first appearance in the senior championship, also finishing fourth with a time of 11.46. Former Gamecock and 2002 National Champion Lisa Barber (Nike), who has been having a remarkable season, won the third heat with a personal best time of 11.04. Solomon and Whipple will join Barber in Saturday’s semifinal.

Junior All-American Leroy Dixon started off the men’s championship action with a strong performance in the men’s 100m dash preliminary. In a heat that consisted of two false starts, one of which included the disqualification of 2004 Olympic gold medallist Justin Gatlin, Dixon finished second with a time of 10.30, automatically advancing to the semifinal. In heat two, Olympic medallist Bernard Williams was also charged a false start and was disqualified. Dixon will compete in Saturday’s semifinal against three-time Olympian Maurice Green (adidas), who won the second heat with a time of 10.12, and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Shawn Crawford, who won the fifth heat with a time of 10.10.

In the Gamecocks’ final event of the day, sophomore All-American Stephanie Smith and former Gamecock and 2002 National Champion Demetria Washington competed in the senior women’s 400m dash semifinal. Both competing in a highly competitive heat one that included 2004 Olympians Monique Henderson, Monique Hennagan and Dee Dee Trotter, Smith finished fifth with a time of 52.73, while Washington finished in eighth place with a time of 53.51. Trotter, who ran 51.18, won the heat. The top four of two heats and the next best time advance to Saturday’s final. Smith had the next best time after the top eight and will compete in the final.

“We’re excited Stephanie has another chance to make a world championship team,” said USC Head Coach Curtis Frye. “We had a good round today with Erica Whipple and Shalonda Solomon making it through to the top 16 in the US in the 100m dash prelim. Natasha did well with the fastest time in the juniors going into the 400m and Leroy Dixon making it through the first round of the 100m dash.”

In other action, former Gamecock and two-time Olympic silver medallist Terrence Trammell (Mizuno) ran the fastest time of the day in the senior men’s 110 hurdles semfinal with a time of 13.41. USC volunteer coach Allen Johnson (Nike) returned to win the final in the event with a time of 12.99, while Trammell ran 13.02 for third.

“All of the Gamecock family did well,” Frye said, including Barber, Johnson, Trammell and Washington. “The Gamecocks had a good day. We’re proud of the Gamecocks and there’s more to come tomorrow.”

The Gamecocks will be back in action on Saturday starting with the senior men’s and women’s 100m semifinal at 12:25 and 12:35 p.m. Pacific (3:25 and 3:35 p.m. Eastern). The remainder of the championship will be televised live on Saturday, June 25 from 4-6 p.m., and from 5-7 p.m. on ESPN2 on Sunday, June 26 (all times Eastern). Results will be available at

Saturday’s Schedule (all pacific times)

Women’s 100m dash semifinal, 12:25 p.m.

Shalonda Solomon

Erica Whipple

Men’s 100m dash semifinal, 12:25 p.m.

Leroy Dixon

Junior Women’s 400m final, 1:30 p.m.

Natasha Hastings

Women’s 400m hurdles final, 1:50 p.m.

Tiffany Ross-Williams

Visa Women’s 400m final, 2:02 p.m.

Stephanie Smith

Hershey’s Women’s 100m final, 2:42 p.m.

Visa Men’s 100m final, 2:52 p.m.

Women’s 200m first round, 4:30 p.m.

Khalilah Carpenter

Shalonda Solomon

Erica Whipple

Men’s 200m first round, 4:50 p.m.

Rodney Martin