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May 31, 2008

Tallahassee, Fla.Jason Richardson won South Carolina’s lone NCAA East Region title, but the men and women combined to finish runner-up in three individual races and with three relays. They added three bronze medals as well. South Carolina advanced seven individuals and all four relays to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa June 11-14. The women finished tied for fourth place with Florida State and the men finished in fourth place. Virginia Tech’s women won the NCAA East Region title with the Florida State men winning the NCAA East Region title.

A final list will come out on Monday with additional athletes added.

“What a day!” said head coach Curtis Frye.

Call Jason Richardson ‘Mr. Consistency’. Running the fifth-fastest time in the world this year and breaking the NCAA East Region record, Richardson won the 110m hurdles with a legal personal best of 13.21 – just .02 off the school record set by Terrence Trammell at the 2000 Olympic Trials.

Richardson bested the field by more than .20 seconds. He ran 13.21 in the SEC Championship final, but it was with a +2.41 wind. Richardson was a redshirt last year, but won the East Region title in 2006.

“It felt so easy. I was straining at SECs to run 13.21,” said Richardson. “I looked back at on old press release and I said I wanted to run 13.2 before NCAAs and it’s good to see one of my goals come to fruition.”

Richardson ran the second leg of the 1600m relay runner-ups, clocking a 3:05.53 to make the show. On the women’s side, USC won a season-best 3:32.35 to finish third and also make the Championship. The men’s 4×4 consisted of Keith Hinnant, Richardson, Jussi Heikkila and Ray Miley; and the women’s 4×4 was paced by Faraign Giles, Brandi Cross, Gabby Glenn and Porche Bryd.

Brandi Cross ran a personal best of 51.70 to finish as the runner-up in the quarter. Her time is the seventh best in school history, besting 2004 Olympic gold medalist Tonique Williams-Darlings’ school record of 51.99.

“I am excited,” said Cross. “I know what I need to do in my race now.”

Jussi Heikkila missed the Olympic Games ‘B’ standard at the SEC Championship by .02 (49.52 to 49.50), but don’t fear – he got it and some more in the NCAA East Region finals when he finished at 49.39 to finish as the runner-up in the 400m hurdles and advanced to the NCAA Championships. Heikkila, who already owns Finland’s indoor 400m national record, was just .03 from setting Finland’s national record in the 400m hurdles (49.36). His time is the fourth-best in school history.

“I don’t care right now about the national record – I wanted the Olympic standard,” said Heikkila. “It felt really good.”

Both freshmen 100m qualified for the NCAA Championships by winning the silver and bronze medals in the finals. Shayla Mahan ran an 11.47 to finish as the runner-up and Gabby Glenn cross the line at 11.70 to finish third.

Mahan later finished as the bronze medalist in the 200m with a personal best of 23.44 as she advances to the NCAA Championship.

The women’s 4x100m relay started off the day as the runner-up in the short relay to Florida by .02 – USC ran 43.81 to UF’s 43.79. Both teams advance to the NCAA Championships. The Gamecocks’ relay consisted of Brandi Cross, Shayla Mahan, Faraign Giles and Gabby Glenn.

“I was excited because when Shayla ran up on me with the stick and I thought cool, we can move our mark back. In the middle of the race when I came up I saw Florida real close so I knew we were real close. I knew I would get the stick to Gabby good and I was just yelling ‘Keep going! Keep going!’ I just yelled, go! It was our best hand-off ever and it can be improved,” said Giles.

The men’s 4x100m relay also finished as the runner-up, just .02 off host Florida State (FSU ran 39.37 to USC’s 39.39), with both advancing to the NCAA Championships. The Gamecocks relay consisted of Jon Hancock, Antonio Sales, Quentin Moore and Lamar Markett. It is the 10th fastest time in school history.

Earlier in the day Erik Heymann finished fifth in the javelin with a toss of 219′ 11 to advance to the NCAA Championships. It is the second straight year the Westwood, N.J. native has advanced to the NCAA meet.

“My goal is to be top eight at the NCAA meet – I want to be an All-American,” said Heymann.

Moore ran a 46.87 to finish seventh in the 400m. He has an outside shot at making the NCAA Championships.

Freshman Mike Zajec threw a personal best 200′ 7 to finish seventh in the hammer. Zajec’s toss was a personal best by more than two feet. Derek Pressley finished 16th in the triple jump, hitting the pits at 49′ 11.

NCAA Championship Qualifiers
(additional athletes may be added after the NCAA Region Championships)

JavelinErik Heymann
4x100m relay – Jon Hancock, Antonio Sales, Quentin Moore and Lamar Markett
4x400m relayKeith Hinnant, Jason Richardson, Jussi Heikkila and Ray Miley
110m hurdlesJason Richardson
400m hurdlesJussi Heikkila

4x100m relayBrandi Cross, Shayla Mahan, Faraign Giles and Gabby Glenn
4x400m relayFaraign Giles, Brandi Cross, Gabby Glenn and Porche Bryd
100mShayla Mahan, Gabby Glenn
200mShayla Mahan
400mBrandi Cross