June 13, 2008
Des Moines, Iowa – Moving to another hotel midday due to downtown Des Moines evacuation due to rising flood water, South Carolina collected five All-American honors Friday night in the third day of the NCAA Track and Field Championships hosted by Drake University. In addition, Jason Richardson and Brandi Cross advanced to the finals of their signature events with the women’s 4x400m relay running in the final as well. CBS-TV will broadcast live coverage of the final day of competition on Sat., June 14 from 4-6 p.m. EST.
“Jussi did a great job in the finals. I had hoped he would finish in the top five and he did. Jason and Brandi did well to advance as well,” said Carolina head coach Curtis Frye. “We struggled with two freshmen in the anchor position on both short relays. The women ran well and were All-American. We had a mishap with the men, but they are two freshmen and two sophomores and they will be back. Right now we have five All-Americans. Tomorrow we have Brandi, Jason and the women’s 4×4 . We can finish in the top 20 on the men’s side and the women have a shot at a top 30 finish.”
Jussi Heikkila crossed the finish line as the fifth-fastest 400m hurdler in the NCAA Championship with a time of 49.69. He finished his Gamecock career with his first All-American honors. The native of Finland already has the Olympic `B’ standard (49.39) and is expected to represent Finland at the Beijing Olympics.
The women’s 4x100m relay finished seventh in the finals with the foursome collecting All-American honors by crossing the finish line at 44.04. The relay was paced by lead-off leg Cross to Shayla Mahan to Faraign Giles to Gabrielle Glenn.
Jason Richardson finished second to 2007 NCAA champion Ty Atkins, with Atkins running a 13.25 to Richardson’s 13.29. Both advance to Saturday afternoon’s final. Richardson finished third in both 2005 and 2006. He did not run outdoors last year due to injury.
“I had a terrible start. I was really tight last night and this morning and due to my history of injury I decided to take it easy and listen to my body,” said Richardson. “Advancing is all that matters in the semi-finals. Despite my consistency, I didn’t get out.”
Brandi Cross ran a 52.92 to finish fourth in her heat and advances to her first NCAA 400m final. Cross’ personal best is 51.70 and she was both the SEC and NCAA East Region Championship runner-up.