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June 28, 2008

EUGENE, Ore. – Former Gamecock Tiffany Ross-Williams won the preliminary round of the 400-meter hurdles to lead a total of seven former and current University of South Carolina athletes that advanced Friday at the U.S. Olympic Trials at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field.

The trials will run through July 6, and the 2008 Olympic Games will take place from August 8-24 in Beijing, China. The top three finishers in each event at the U.S. Olympic Trials that have met the “A” qualifying standard for the Olympic Games will punch their ticket to Beijing.

Ross-Williams ran in the third heat and crossed the tape at 55.47 to take first in the 400-meter hurdles and advance to Saturday’s semifinal. Former Gamecock Lashinda Demus won the second heat at 56.98 to place fourth overall and also advances to the semifinal round. Saturday’s round begins at 7:10 p.m. (EST).

“Technically, it was a really good race for me,” Ross-Williams said. “I went out and executed very well. I just tried to listen to my coach and pump my arms. I’m starting to peak at the right time and I think that is really important.”

“It feels good [to win the heat],” Demus said. “I tried to run slow purposely and my race ended up a mess. So tomorrow I’m going to come out and run like it’s the final.”

Four Gamecock women advanced to the semifinal in the 100-meter dash after completing two rounds late Friday. Mechelle Lewis (10:95), Lisa Barber (11:10), Alexis Joyce (11:16) and Shalonda Solomon (11:16) all advanced through two rounds by finishing in the top 16 spots. Lewis led the Gamecocks with a 7th place showing. Former Gamecock Miki Barber (11:29) placed 23rd in the quarterfinals but did not advance. Saturday’s round will begin at 6:25 p.m. (EST).

Current Carolina freshman Johnny Dutch ran a 49.96 in the 400-meter hurdles to place 15th overall and advance to Saturday’s semifinal round. Dutch, the SEC Freshman Runner of the Year, also advanced last week to the USA Junior World Championships in the same event after clocking 49.7 for a runner-up finish. The Junior World Championships will be held in Poland from July 8-13, but Dutch will first continue to attempt to qualify for Beijing beginning with Saturday’s 6:55 p.m. (EST) start time.

Other Gamecocks that competed Friday were Chris Steddum and Tony Allmond. Steddum cleared 17-8.5 in the pole vault to place 14th while Allmond hit 24-9.25 in the long jump for 18th place.

Television coverage will begin Saturday at 8 p.m. (EST) on NBC. Events with Gamecocks competing include the men’s 100-meter dash qualifying and quarterfinals (5:30 pm EST, 8:01 pm EST), women’s 100-meter dash semifinal and final(6:25 pm EST, 8:48 pm EST), men’s 400-meter hurdles semifinal (6:55 pm EST) and the women’s 400-meter hurldes semifinal (7:10 pm EST).