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May 31, 2008

Columbia, SC – They say Virginia is for Lovers. They should add to that ‘Virginia is for Gamecocks, too’ as South Carolina has six Virginians athletes competing at the NCAA East Region Championships this weekend in Tallahassee, Fla. Four of the six are competing at the NCAA East Region meet for the first time.

The six student-athletes from Virginia include (event, hometown): Derron Flood (200m, Norfolk) Jason Cook (shot put, Bristow), Aimee Kodat (discus, Herndon), Fariagn Giles (400m, Virginia Beach), Quentin Moore (400m, Chesapeake) and Michael Zajac (hammer, Lynchburg). It should be noted that two assistants are also from Virginia: Mike Sergent (throws, Northern Virginia) and Dee Quarles (jumps and multis, Covington)

What’s special about this group – just ask Flood. “We want to all PR. We have leadership and we are about having fun. I am definitely the leader of the group,” said Flood.

The six sat down during the NCAA East Region Meet to talk about track, each other and trade a few stories.

Why did you choose South Carolina?
Derron: I liked the 400m history with Jon Fortenberry, Otis Harris and Kenneth Ferguson. Jon and Otis were 44 second quarter milers and it was close to home.
Jason: Coach Sergent called me and I knew I would be in good hands. The weather is nice.
Aimee: Coach Sergent and the reputation of the business school. I also wanted to be somewhere warm.
Faraign: It was close to home.
Quentin: I have a long answer. I wanted to come to the south because I have family in Aiken. The first time I considered it was because Derron Flood was a senior at my high school. He talked like this was the best school in the world and I wanted to come here all along. Coach Frye called me in May, said he would give me a full ride and I said ‘OK, where do I sign?’
Mike: My high school coach and Coach Sergent were really good buddies. I grew up a Georgia fan, but fell in love on my visit. Jason Cook was my host.

How was your recruiting visit? Did it sell you?
Derron: No, not really. More so the caliber athletes that were here sold me. I had a good time.
Jason: Not really, because I didn’t come on a visit. I drove through Columbia and met with Coach Sergent. We couldn’t find the Roundhouse at first. It was like 400 degrees and I was wearing all black. I was sweating like crazy when I got out of the car. I really liked it, especially Coach Sergent.
Faraign: I came down during the five-hour awards banquet and was sold on the people.
Aimee: I came down my junior year when I went to schools I might be interested in and met with coaches myself. I hated South Carolina my first visit. It was the first college I visited. I then came down here on an official visit and I loved it. When I came on my visit I went to the indoor meet and I was like ‘is that Jason Cook?’ We went to throws camp in 2003 and I hadn’t seen him since he graduated from high school. I was like ‘wow – you go here’. I didn’t know he went there. Quentin: I am going to tell you a story. I came down and it was the only visit I had. The best party was going to the swimming pool and I saw Faraign, Brittney, Kemesha, Natasha – all of them in their bikinis and that kind of sold me. I loved my visit even though there weren’t a lot of people on campus because it was during summer school – we had a really good time.
Mike: It was my first visit. I came down for the Kentucky football game. Tyler Trout, Jason Cook and all the guys set up a scavenger hunt. I chugged a bottle of pancake syrup outside of the Young’s Food Store, we swam in the steeplechase pit – a lot of things. It was a blast. It was so fun. I was ready to sign. My Dad made me take all five visits: Purdue, Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia, but I wanted to come here all along.

Did you know each other before you came to school here?
Derron: I knew Quentin because we went to high school together. I recruited Quentin – that’s why I call him ‘Nephew’. I probably walked by the other Virginia kids here four or five times at meets and didn’t even notice. Good story on Quentin from high school. He pulled his hamstring in a relay his freshman year – it was raining. His dad ran on the field on the from the stands and picked him up as he was his bride. Quentin was crying, had snot dripping out his nose and kept screaming ‘Daddy, Daddy’. It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life.
Faraign: I knew a few people here, but no one here now. Watching some high school track videos and I would see them in there later when I got to school.
Mike: I was the only person to beat Jason his senior year in the discus. Jason: I remember that. I thought ‘That little fat kid beat me?’.
Mike: I wasn’t fat then. I was small, not fat. I was scared to death of Jason – he had all these tattoos and earrings. I was scared.
Quentin: I knew Faraign and I knew Flood. When I first got here I met Michael Zajec and he said ‘Are you Quentin Moore?’ I didn’t have a clue who he was. I think they put us together because we were freshman from Virginia.
Faraign: He hyped South Carolina so much. He kept talking about it.
Aimee: We were rivals – Quentin and I.
Mike: But you know who won state: E.C. Glass. My high school! I won the shot and the discus.
Quentin: My junior year we won the indoor title.
Aimee: You guys won because you played dirty.
Jason: It’s track!

What is an event people were surprised you did in high school – in track or otherwise?
Derron: I played football in high school. I was a defensive back. Middle school it was all football. I didn’t run track until my sophomore year of high school. I wanted to work on my speed as a defensive back. My coach kept talking to me about speed and so I ran track.
Jason: I ran the 4×1 in middle school. I wrestled in college. I have played pretty much every sport.
Aimee: He was obsessed with football – that’s all he talked about how I first met him.
Quentin: Wow! (he says this for each person)
Jason: It was pretty bad. There were a lot of football players on that 4×1.
Aimee: I played soccer. I wanted to play in college, but I knew it wouldn’t be as good of an opportunity.
Faraign: I was a cheerleader and I did the long jump for awhile.
Quentin: I can see that! I long jumped and I was pretty good until I hurt my knee. I played football in middle school.
Mike: My first two years of high school I was in the marching band. I played tuba. I broke a kids arm playing a pick-up game of football before band practice and then the football coach came and told the band director I was going to play football now. I was then all-region in football. Smaller Virginia schools recruited me, but track has always been my passion.

If you could do one thing in track – what would it be – other than your event?
Derron: The 100m. I don’t run the open 100m, but I wish I could. I argue with the guys all time and tell them I could make the regional standard in the 100m – I could run 10.5.
Jason: I don’t know – I would say the pole vault because that looks fun. Maybe race walk.
Aimee: Pole vault
Faraign: I would try the hurdles. I can’t do the pole vault, No, No. No.
Quentin: All the jumps – long jump, triple jump, high jump.
Mike: Triple jump (they all laugh). Coach Frye actually yelled me at for trying it. I am the only thrower who can make it from the take off board to the pits. He told me when I break my leg he would break my other one.
Quentin: I always won the standing broad jump when I was little, but when we started jumping I don’t go up at all.

What’s the funniest story you could tell about each other or about the team?
Derron: There is so much stuff that it’s hard to say just one single event. We laugh about Jussi Heikkila and his adaptation to Western culture being from Finland. He had to get used to being an American. Derek Pressley and I make fun of him. Derek does impressions of Jussi that are very funny. Everything he says – Derek imitates Jussi. You should see him do it. It’s the funniest thing I have ever seen. We like Jussi so much – he’s an American now. Great 400m hurdler, too.
Jason: We were coming back from Spec Town Relays in Georgia and we had the 15-person van. Coach Sergent stopped at the Kangaroo gas station to fill up and couldn’t figure out how to turn on the gas. He was shaking it, hitting buttons and we were laughing. I guess you had to be there, it was pretty funny. We had fun narrating how he looked like a wild animal trying to figure it out.
Aimee: I don’t know if this is funny, but it’s funny to me. Coach Sergent and I worked after practice sometimes to help me. I was struggling with the shot put. All of the sudden he said: ‘Amy, you are a little chic, trying to fly and you just don’t know how to fly yet.’
Quentin: Here we are in an interview and no one can tell a funny story. This is terrible.
Faraign: Stephanie Smith and I took a trip from South Quad to the Elmwood McDonald’s. We walked. Everybody knows Stephanie is always confused. I heard a weird noise and ran fast for a few seconds. Then I turned around and Stephanie was just starting to run. It was funny.
Quentin: Picture it: 2008. On the bus on the way to Florida State. I have to use the bathroom. You are supposed to have a lock on the door to turn the light on. It’s broken and then I can’t open the door. Then I was knocking on the door – I wanted out. I was getting scared. I used my phone for a light and yelled ‘help, help’. I hear them talking, but I am not sure who they are talking about. I called Derek. He didn’t answer and I was yelling I am locked in. I was yelling: ‘It’s hot in here. I am going to cry’. They finally opened the door. It really wasn’t funny.
Mike: All the throwers tell stories better than I do. I have a lip sync tape on YouTube that I filmed in our dorm in Bates West last year.
Jason: That was when he weighed like 350 and so you can see his chins moving.
Quentin: It was so good. It was so funny.
Jason: Mike snores, too.
Faraign: If you go to the chiropractor they can fix that.
Mike: I went to see one at the New York meet and after that I hurt worst. It wasn’t nice.

What do you want do want to do when you graduate:
Derron: I graduate in December. I have an offer to work for GMG, a sports agency in Virginia. I will continue to run as well.
Jason: There are a lot of things I want to do. I am thinking of walking on as a long snapper in the NFL. I am 6’2, 267lbs. I have a chance. I was a really good long snapper in high school.
Aimee: I want to an adult. I want to work with foreign aid and how it’s distributed. I want to change the criteria for it.
Faraign: My career choice is to be an criminal investigator. I have a Criminal Justice. I have been interested in it so long. First I wanted to be a mortician. I am fascinated with dead things.
Quentin: I want to go to Medical school. I am majoring biology and minoring in Psychology. I can sing and act. I can sing gospel.
Mike: I want to be a forensic accountant. You bust people that mess with people’s money.

What’s something few people know about you?
Derron: I am pretty lame. I can rap. Every night before we race, I get the guys together and we freestyle rap. I am the best, but it’s kind of close. Aaron Anderson is pretty good. Jamil James is pretty good, but because this is about Virginia people – I am the King!
Jason: I am afraid of heights, but I want to go sky diving. I might do it this summer. It’s only like $190.
Aimee: I grew up in the Czech Republic – Prague. I am going to teach English in Germany this summer.
Faraign: I am a pretty open person. I am big on family. I am an only child.
Quentin: My grandfather 16 brothers and sisters. He had eight children. My Dad’s side: they had 13 brothers and sisters, but his parents only had three (one being his father). My grandmother, her last child was at 48. All single births.
Mike: I ate 13 double-cheeseburgers my junior year of high school coming home from the state meet. I also ate a large fry and a coke. I was 300 pounds when I got here. I am 245 pounds now so obviously I don’t eat like that anymore.