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June 25, 2005

Carson, Calif. – Saturday was another good day for South Carolina track and field, as freshman All-American Natasha Hastings became the second Gamecock to earn a spot on the USA Junior National team.

Going into the junior 400m dash final with the fastest time in the preliminary, Hastings ran an impressive race that finished with her earning second place with a personal best time of 51.34.

“I’m pretty excited,” Hastings said. “I got a PR finally, both indoors and outdoors. I’m just happy to make the team and have a chance to earn another medal and lower our record in the 4x400m relay.”

Although she already made the team as one of the top two finishers, due to a disqualification of first place finisher Brittany Jones (unattached), Hastings claimed the top spot and was named the 2005 Junior 400m Champion.

“I don’t know how to feel,” Hastings said about the revision. “I hope they still take her (Jones) to Canada, having run 51.18. She can be a great asset to the relay team and having her on the team would be a great thing.”

In other events, freshman All-American Shalonda Solomon and senior All-American Erica Whipple competed in the 100m dash semifinal. Running impressive performances, both Gamecocks finished seventh in their respective heats, while both recording times of 11.39. Neither advanced to the final. Former Gamecock Olympian Lisa Barber, who advanced to the final with a wind-aided time of 10.87 in the semifinal, won the final and was named the 2005 100m Champion with a time of 11.10.

The Gamecocks experienced both joy and pain in the women’s 400m hurdles final. All-American junior Tiffany Ross-Williams and former Gamecock and 2004 Olympian Lashinda Demus (Nike) battled it out for two of the top three spot needed to make the national team. In third place and in a position to move to second as she approached the final hurdle, Ross-Williams clipped the hurdle taking a fall causing her to not finish the race. Demus, however, went on to win the competition with the second fastest American time this year and the sixth best of all time of 53.35.

“I’m disappointed about my race, but I still have all summer to run on the circuit,” Ross-Williams said. “I was running on a new level and things like this happen. It was just a learning experience for me. I can bounce back and run in Europe this summer.”

Sophomore All-American Stephanie Smith ran a strong 400m final, finishing eighth in a competition that included Olympians Monique Henderson, Monique Hennagan, Sanya Richards, and Dee Dee Trotter. Smith, running 51.83, finished in eighth place and earned a spot in the relay pool for the USA National team.

“I really couldn’t see the field to know what position I was in, but I feel o.k. and relieved that it’s over,” Smith said about not making the team. “I made a major step by making the final. I could have done better, but given the circumstances, it just didn’t work out for me. Hopefully, I’ll come back better and stronger next year.”

Having been on the track when Ross-Williams experienced the fall, Smith said that it was devastating for her to see a teammate go down, especially heading into her competition. “I felt my heart just drop,” Smith said.

Ending the day’s competition, Gamecock All-Americans senior Khalilah Carpenter and Solomon both advanced in the 200m dash preliminary. Solomon, who ran in the first heat, finished third with a time of 22.95, while Carpenter ran 24.10 for sixth place in her heat. Both Gamecocks will compete in Sunday’s semfinal.

For the men’s team, All-American junior Leroy Dixon and All-American senior Rodney Martin ran in the first heat of the 200m preliminary. Finishing second and third, respectively, both Gamecocks advanced to Sunday’s semifinal with impressive times of 20.96 and 20.97. Olympian Shawn Crawford won the heat with a time of 20.77.

Sunday’s competition for the Gamecocks will kick-off with All-American junior Kemesha Whitmire in the women’s triple jump final at 1:30 p.m. (PT), followed by the women’s 200m semifinal at 1:45 p.m. and the men’s 200m semifinal at 2:06 p.m. Results will be available at

Sunday’s Schedule (pacific times)

Women’s Triple Jump Final, 1:30 p.m.

Kemesha Whitmire

Women’s 200m Semifinal, 1:45 p.m.

Khalilah Carpenter

Shalonda Solomon

Men’s 200m Semifinal, 2:06 p.m.

Leroy Dixon

Rodney Martin