June 14, 2008
Des Moines, Iowa – During a sun-drenched afternoon under the spotlight of a national television audience on CBS, South Carolina junior Jason Richardson won his first NCAA 110m hurdles title on his third try after finishing as the bronze medalist twice. Sophomore Brandi Cross finished sixth in the 400m finals and the women’s 4x400m relay won the bronze medal.
The Gamecock men finished 18th – the highest NCAA finish for any Gamecock team this year – and the women finished 22nd. Clemson’s men finished 20th. The Gamecock women had been in the top 12 the last 13 years straight. It’s the highest men’s finish since 2003 when the Gamecocks finished 10th. South Carolina grabbed 11 All-American honors. Florida State won the men’s title and LSU won the women’s title.
“We finished ahead of some outstanding programs on the men’s side. It really sets us up for continued growth with the men’s and women’s programs. I am so impressed with Jason’s race. Brandi Cross’ effort out of lane one was a tremendous effort. We really think she broke through in that race,” said Carolina head coach Curtis Frye. “The women’s mile relay also ran really well – they are so young. We showed an extreme effort. You can’t control conditions, weather or a great deal of things. But you can control your effort and that goes to our kids commitment to something more than themselves. Each day at the hotel they knew they might have to leave and some of that stress affected them. I think they handled it well. I think going out yesterday and helping the community really helped them when they sandbagged. They came together as a team. Jamil James said the most exposure he got as an athlete was something he did for other people (sandbagging) and that helped him become a better man. We are champions – we finished 18th and 22nd – and I have the best team in America.”
“This team has lost a lot of things this year, including their massage therapist, their athletic trainer and their SID. They all did a great job. When you grow up you lose so many things, but you want it to go smoothly. It happened for our kids and it will make them better and stronger,” said Frye. “We have a solid staff now and I think we have things in place that will help us stay together and continue to grow. I think our team is committed academically. They did community service at this meet for others. We are getting the commitment from the administration. All is bright for Carolina. At the Olympic Trials in a few weeks we will have many kids – current and former – competing. I hate to say wait until next year, but with this team’s youth and what I saw the last few days, I think we can say that. With Jason winning and the women’s 4×4 finishing third, we are headed to more wins with our track and field program. We train our kids more about the things they need in life and there will be more champions there because of that kind of recognition. I want our fans to come to Arkansas next year at the NCAA Outdoor meet and I am asking the Gamecock family to support our team. Put it on your calendars right now. We need somebody yelling `Go Gamecocks’ next year – I want to see more of our fans following them. If we get the community support we deserve, we will have a tremendous year. We have a very special bunch.”
Richardson crossed the finish line first at 13.40 with a -1.0 wind. Richardson remains undefeated as a collegiate this season with his first NCAA title after finishing as the bronze medalist in 2005 and 2006. He was the NCAA runner-up indoors this season. Richardson is a six-time All-American during his career at Carolina. He has a personal best of 13.21 this season (NCAA East Region Championship final win) which is the second-best time in school history (Terrence Trammell, 2000, 13.19 when he won the silver medal at the USA Olympic Trials).
“The latter part of my race is my strength so I let it carry me there. I am happy for the win. It’s a win that’s delayed, but not denied.”
110m Hurdles Champion Jason Richardson
“Time doesn’t mean anything when it comes to the finals. I noticed the winds when I was warming up and let go of the goals on time and went for the win. I weight about 25 lbs. anyway so I felt it a lot. I kept my head down and drove,” said Richardson. “I felt Ty Akins midway (2007 NCAA Champion from Auburn) and knew Drew Brunson was there as well, but I couldn’t see him (2008 NCAA indoor champion). I have had trouble with my start because of nerves. The latter part of my race is my strength so I let it carry me there. I am happy for the win. It’s a win that’s delayed, but not denied.”
“He did what was necessary. It was a great run. He didn’t get a very good start, but he didn’t panic and started in the race. He did what a mature athlete would do and handled things,” said Frye. “When he was younger he might not have run that race, but the conditions dictated a different plan and he took that and ran. The leadership he has shown this season has been wonderful. He has matured and held our kids together. We are glad and proud of his finish.”
The women’s 4x400m relay came into the finals seeded No. 6 and finished third with a season-best time of 3:30.78. The relay, which all won All-American honors, included Cross, Faraign Giles, Gabrielle Glenn and Porche Byrd. The relays features one senior, a sophomore and two freshmen in Byrd and Glenn. Giles, Glenn and Cross also ran on USC’s All-American 4x100m relay.
Earlier in the afternoon Cross, who came into the 400m finals seeded No. 8, crossed the line in sixth place with a time of 51.86. She collected her third All-American honors of the meet (4×1, 4×4 and 400m).
“I’m relieved and I am excited because the best is yet to come. They sing that in church all the time,” said Cross after her sixth place finish in the 400m and her lead-off legs with the seventh place 4×1 and the third-place 4×4.