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June 12, 2008

Des Moines, Iowa – In the second day of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships with the sun peeking out of the clouds after another night of severe thunderstorms in Iowa, the Gamecocks saw two athletes advance to the next round. In addition, the women’s 4x400m relay advanced to its ninth straight NCAA final with the third-fastest time of the day. CBS-TV will broadcast live coverage of the final day of competition on Sat., June 14 from 4-6 p.m. EST.

On Friday, South Carolina will run in three finals: the men’s and women’s 4x100m relays and watch Heikkila in the finals of the 400m hurdles. The men won the 4×1 in 1999 (Clint Crenshaw, Terrence Trammell, James Mays and Jamie Price: 38.92) and the women won the 4×1 at the 2002 NCAA meet – the year they won the school’s one and only NCAA title (Erica Whipple, Washington, L. Barber and Aleen Bailey).

In addition on Friday, Richardson (110m hurdles) and Cross (400m) will compete in the semi-finals with the finals set for Saturday.

Jussi Heikkila finished third in the semi-finals of the 400m hurdles to advance to Friday’s finals and Jason Richardson won his heat of the 110m hurdles to advance to Friday’s semi-finals.

“It was a great day. Jason ran a fast time in the trials and set the stadium record. Jussi advanced to the intermediate hurdles finals. Our women made the finals of the 4×4 and all of those things were expected. We want to meet or exceed expectations”, said Gamecock head coach Curtis Frye. “Our men’s team ran their season-best time in the 4×4 and so it was a good day for them. I know they are disappointed they didn’t make the finals, but our two seniors, a freshman and a sophomore really ran well. They finished 10th and that’s a good effort.

“Tomorrow we get to start scoring in the track meet,” continued Frye. “We can score in the 4×1 and with hurdles with Jussi. There is still a lot of hope for Carolina.

Heikkila was third in the 400m hurdles semi-finals, crossing the finish line at 49.80. The senior advances to his first NCAA final after finishing ninth last year. Heikkila has a personal best of 49.39 which he ran at the NCAA East Region Championship when he finished as the runner-up. His PR is an Olympic ‘B’ standard and just .03 from Finland’s national record.

“I’m happy,” said Heikkila. “I am going to run again tomorrow and that was my goal coming here, kind of.”

Richardson, undefeated outdoors as a collegiate in the 110m hurdles, ran the top time of the day in the first round and shattered the Drake Stadium record by clocking a 13.26. His personal best is 13.21, the top time in the NCAA this season, which he has run twice including when he won the NCAA East Region with an East Region record. Richardson was third in the 110m hurdles in both 2005 and 2006 before redshirting due to injury in 2007.

The women’s 4x400m relay, consisting of Brandi Cross, Faraign Giles, Gabrielle Glenn and Porche Byrd, ran a season-best time of 3:31.74 to cross the finish line on LSU’s heels in the first heat (3:31.24). The 1600m relay is South Carolina’s signature event as South Carolina’s women have been All-American (in the finals, top eight) eight years straight. The women have won the 1600m relay twice: in 2000 they were paced by Lisa Barber, Demetria Washington, Ellikisha Williamson and Miki Barber (3:28.64) and in 2002 they were victorious with Tiffany Ross, Washington, Tacita Bass and Lasinda Demus (3:26.46 – then an NCAA record).

“My goal as the lead-off leg of the 4×4 was to get the stick out front and give Faraign a good opportunity,” said Cross, who is running in the semi-finals of the 400m and as a member of the 4×1 on Friday evening. “To get ready tonight I am going to ice, do some stretching and get some rest. I don’t have anything to lose – this is just another step to getting ready for Olympic trials. To me it’s a relay thing. We did it together to get to the two relay finals so it means we worked together. Whether we finish first in those finals or last, we are going to work together to get it done.”

The men’s 4x400m relay, paced by Quentin Moore, Aaron Anderson, Keith Hinnant and Ray Miley, finished fourth in its heat with a season-best time of 3:05.48 and did not advance to the finals, finishing 10th. The men’s 4×4 have been All-American (finals, top 8) three times in school history including 2002 when the Gamecocks won the NCAA title clocking 3:02.16 (James Law, Otis Harris, Otukile Kekote and Jonathan Fortenberry).