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July 12, 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina sophomore Brandi Cross enjoyed strong success in her second season as a member of the Gamecock track and field program. She advanced to the semifinal at the Olympic Trials in the 400-meter dash this year and next up will compete for the U.S. Senior National Team at the NACAC Track & Field Championships in Toluca, Mexico. A Missouri City, Texas native, Cross spoke with about her teammates at the World Junior Championships, teammate and fellow Texan Jason Richardson, competing in Mexico and her experience at the Olympic Trials.

Like your teammates there now, what did it mean to you to do well at the World Junior Championships. I know you’ve been there twice and medaled two years ago.

I just liked being there. If I medaled it was great but it wasn’t a big thing because it was like “I’ve done this.” It’s good to medal but I’ve just been doing this for so long that my goal is just to keep getting better. They’ve never had that experience (at World Juniors) so I hope that they do place high and get experience because it’s really good.

Your relay teammate this past year, Porche Byrd, will run the anchor leg of the mile relay tomorrow. How do you think Porche will hold up as the anchor for USA?

Porche will do fine. She’s one of those athletes that has great energy, and that’s what makes her so dangerous. As long as she doesn’t get nervous she’ll go after it and do well. If there’s someone in front of her she’ll pass them. If she gets the baton in front of everyone else, they won’t catch up. She knows what she’s doing. She’s done it enough times this year for us. She’s ready.

Next up for you is U23’s in Mexico. When do you leave for that and what races are you running?

I leave on Tuesday morning (July 15th) and I’ll run the open 400 and mile relay. This is my first time at NACAC. I’ve never been. All the other times I’ve competed were for junior teams. This is my first senior team. I’m excited because it’s my first senior team, but I don’t know how the competition will be there. I’m happy though.

Have you ever been to Mexico?

I’ve never been to Mexico. I’ve been everywhere else. I’m not excited about the weather. They said it would be raining and cold. I thought it would be blazing hot.

You and fellow Gamecock Jason Richardson are both from Texas and will compete together in Mexico. How has the experience been together?

We’re actually leaving out there together. There’s actually an interesting story about Jason and me both being from Texas. Last year Jason had to redshirt indoor and outdoor. Last year I ran but I was too heavy and didn’t have a good year altogether. Before coming into this season we made a pact to “put Texas back on the map and put Texas back to where we were in high school.” After the year we had this year, for next year we set all these different goals. We’re kind of in this together but not in this together, if that makes any sense.

You had a solid year, leading to a run at the Olympic Trials and now the U-23’s. How has this year been to you so far?

It’s been great. I had minor setbacks. I didn’t know if I’d bounce back from them but I did. I probably could’ve run at 50-point this year. I ran my fastest time still indoor and outdoor this year though. I’m happy and I’ll take that into next year. There’s always something new to learn to in track and field. Next year I shouldn’t have any setbacks.

How was the experience running in Eugene?

The Olympic Trials is where I PR’d. The experience I thought I would have I didn’t have. I thought Olympic Trials were big name athletes, shoes companies and such. I honesty thought I’d crack under pressure but I didn’t. It wasn’t different from any other meet I was in. That’s the thing I learned this year about going to different meets. The name of the meet changes but the athletes and experiences don’t. I actually didn’t learn that until I got to Olympic Trials. The experience wasn’t much different. It was just me learning that you run with the same people all the time. We run with these people, we can run with these people and one day we’ll run with them all the time.