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March 25, 2008

South Carolina’s track and field teams will host the Weems Baskin Invitational on Sat., March 29 with more than 12 schools from six states, including ACC champion Virginia Tech and Southern Conference runner-up Appalachian State, competing in the daylong meet that is free to the public. The field events begin at 10:30 am with the hammer throw and track events will start at Noon with the 3000m steeplechase. Carolina opened the outdoor campaign by winning eight events at the Shamrock Invitational last weekend after claiming multiple All-American honors at the NCAA Indoor Championships two weeks ago.

“We have a great track meet planned this weekend and we are looking forward to a good crowd. It’s an Olympic year and we are excited for former Gamecock NCAA champion Shalonda Solomon to open her year in the 200 meters here and hopefully go on to make the USA team headed to China in August,” said USC head coach Curtis Frye, who is in his 12th season at the Gamecock helm, has coached more than 375 All-Americans and over 60 NCAA champions. “We had good performances last weekend and with our men’s team we are working to move up in the rankings. This is one of the very few times we get to run at home and I know they are excited. We are a year away on the women’s side, but we are working to build for the next few years with this very talented, but young squad. Our women didn’t all compete last weekend, but we look for all of them to open outdoors this weekend. It’s a good schedule of open events and a number of relays with the field events as well.

“We have a big group of seniors and they are looking forward to running in the Weems Baskin meet. Coach Baskin was a wonderful track and field and football coach here and we look forward to a big crowd to honor his name. Later this summer at the Olympic Games in China a number of former Gamecocks will compete. This is a chance for Carolina fans to come out and see in person the future stars of track and field for this summer’s Beijing Olympics and the London Olympics in 2012.”

Meet highlights on the men’s side will include NCAA indoor runner-up Jason Richardson running a leg of the 4x100m relay and the 110m hurdles and the 400m hurdles. Freshman Johnny Dutch will also compete in the same hurdles double and the relays. Gamecock NCAA All-Americans Derron Flood, Keith Hinnant, Jamil James, Ray Miley and Quentin Moore are expected to compete in open events as well as relays. In the field events, Jason Cook, Mike Zajac and Dave Zaycek are expected to lead the throwers with triple jumper and Easley native Derek Pressley looking to tack on another victory in his signature event as he goes after one of South Carolina’s oldest school records, a feat he narrowly missed last year at the SEC Championships when he hit the board at 51′ 10 ½ (Ron Adams, 52′ 2, 1975).

On the women’s side all four Gamecock All-Americans, Porche’ Byrd, Krystal Cantey, Brandi Cross and Faraign Giles, will compete in open events as well as relays. Columbia native and Dreher High School graduates Liza Todd and Brittney James will lead USC in the field events. Both were runner-up in their events last weekend with Todd will competing in the pole vault and James bounding down the runway in the long jump.

In addition to South Carolina, Virginia Tech and App State, schools schedule to compete on Saturday include Benedict College, Claflin University, Georgia Southern University, Limestone College, Morris College, Tennessee State University, UNC Pembroke, University of Wisconsin Whitewater, USC Upstate and VMI.