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Feb. 26, 2010

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KeKe Clarke and the Gamecocks Celebrate
KeKe Clarke
Coach Frye

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – South Carolina senior Kettiany Clarke earned the program’s first SEC title in the pentathlon and became a part of an elite group of athletes in the nation after taking the win in the first day of competition at the SEC Indoor Championships with 4,064 points. Clarke, who has battled injuries throughout her career at South Carolina, became the first Gamecock to earn the pentathlon title and now sits No. 3 in the nation in the event, all but securing a spot to the NCAA Indoor Championships in two weeks.

The Gamecocks previously had two athletes earn the silver medal in the event. Antoinette Wilks took second in 2003 with 4,066 points and the following season Chelsea Hammond also took second with 4,133 points, but Clarke became the first to bring home the gold.

“It feels amazing,” Clarke said of her SEC title. “I’m so glad that my teammates were here to cheer me on. They were my biggest supporters and I couldn’t have done that 800-meters without them.”

“We started out perfect,” South Carolina head coach Curtis Frye said. “We have 10 points. It was a great day. Coach Quarles did a great job. KeKe has been battling injuries for years, and it couldn’t’ have happened to a better kid. She’s a young lady who’s put in the kind of things it takes and came back from a lot of rehab. She is the best athlete in the SEC. Those events take so much pain and struggle, and the things she overcame (with the injuries) probably gave her an advantage. It’s her turn and she stepped up and got it done.”

Clarke and Alabama’s Chealsea Taylor battled for first and second throughout the duration of the pentathlon, alternating for the top position through the first three positions. Clarke started the meet with a first place finish in the 60m hurdles at an NCAA provisional time of 8.43, but fell back to second after taking fifth in the high jump at 5’6 ½ (1.69m).

“I haven’t hurdled all season long,” Clarke said of hitting a provisional and starting the day with a win. “I’ve been having hamstring injuries so I was iffy-iffy about the hurdles, but Coach Frye and Coach Quarles told me to go out there and just go. I knew I could do it, and I did it.”

Down to Taylor by nine points heading into the third event of the day – the shot put – Clarke hit a personal best with a toss of 39’5 (12.01m) to claim third in the event and move ahead of Taylor by 10 points with two events to go. She grew her lead to 50 points after taking fourth in the long jump at a personal best 18’10 (5.74m).

With 3,307 points and only the 800m dash remaining, Clarke sat 768 points away from an NCAA automatic qualifying mark and needed to finish within four seconds of Taylor in the final event to keep first place. Clarke ran a 2:25.01 to place fifth in the 800m and win the title by 45 points, giving the Gamecocks 10 points and the lead in the team competition after one event.

“I was thinking to just finish the 800 and let my teammates be proud of me whether I won the (heptathlon) or not,” Clarke said. “I knew my teammates would have supported me, and that’s all I could ask for. They lifted me up so much!”

Teammate Ceci Kryst placed 16th in her freshman season with 2,868 points. Kryst’s day started on a sour note after she clipped the final hurdle in the 60m hurdles and stumbled to the line at 10.52. She then cleared 4’7 ¾ (1.42m) in the high jump, had a toss of 28’11 in the shot put and jumped 17’11 in the long jump to close the gap in the standings. A time of 2:42.52 in the 800m ended her day.

On the men’s side, Scott Pierce, Eddie Stoudemire, Jerry Thompson III and Mike Humphrey all competed in the first half of competition in the heptathlon.

Pierce began climbing up the heptathlon chart with a big personal best in the long jump, his second event of the day. A bronze medalist in the heptathlon last season after hitting personal bests in four of the seven events, Pierce jumped 23’0 ½ (7.02m) to claim third in the long jump for 818 points, moving him into fifth after two events. He started the day with a time of 7.37 in the 60m dash.

Pierce retained his spot in the standings after taking fourth in the shot put at 39’1 ¼ (11.92m) before clearing 6’5 ½ (1.97m) in the high jump to take fourth in the event. He concludes the day with 2,951 points and is in fifth place overall.

Thompson finished the first half of the heptathlon in ninth place after he claimed eighth in the 60m dash (7.30), ninth in the long jump (20’7 ¾ // 6.29m), seventh in the shot put (38’3 ½ // 11.67m) and eighth in the high jump (5’10 ¼ // 1.79m). Thompson has 2,634 points after four events.

Stoudemire will enter the second half of competition Saturday in 11th place. Fighting a leg injury that threatened to sideline him for the meet, Stoudemire refused to sit out of the competition. An atypical time of 7.47 in the 60m dash began his day, and he sat 12th overall after two events with a jump of 18’6 (5.64m) in the long jump. However, the redshirt junior was able to begin his climb up the standings after taking second in the shot put with a toss of 40’11 (12.47m) to claim 635 points and make up ground. He cleared 5’8 (1.73m) in the high jump to take 11th in both the event and overall heading into Saturday.

Humphrey sits in 13th place after four events in his first time competing at the SEC Indoor Championships. The sophomore started the day by running 7.42 in the 60m dash and jumping 18’11 ¼ (5.77m) in the long jump to move to 11th in the heptathlon after two events. He tossed a 31’2 ½ (9.51m) in the shot put to remain strong, but a no height in the high jump derailed his plans of scoring at his first conference meet.

South Carolina returns to action Saturday beginning with the men’s weight throw at 11 a.m. The Gamecock men will conclude the heptathlon with the start of the 60m hurdles at 3:10 p.m.

W-PENTATHLON 800m (Auto: 2:05.00, Prov: 2:09.00)
7. Kettiany Clarke 2:25.01
16. Ceci Kryst 2:42.52
W-PENTATHLON 60m Hurdles (Auto: 8.14, Prov: 8.43)
1. Kettiany Clarke 8.43 PROV (1032 pts)
16. Ceci Kryst 10.52 (618 pts)
W-PENTATHLON Long Jump (Auto: 6.38m, Prov: 6.13m)
4. Kettiany Clarke 18-10.00 // 5.74m PR (771 pts)
9. Ceci Kryst 17-11.00 // 5.46m (688 pts)
W-PENTATHLON High Jump (Auto: 1.85m, Prov: 1.78m)
5. Kettainy Clarke 5-06.50 // 1.69m PR (842 pts)
16. Ceci Kryst 4-07.75 // 1.42m (566 pts)
W-PENTATHLON Shot Put (Auto: 16.90m, Prov: 15.20m)
3. Kettiany Clarke 39-05.00 // 12.01m PR (662 pts)
13. Ceci Kryst 28-11.00 // 8.81m (452 pts)
W-PENTATHLON (Auto: 4,075 pts, Prov: 3,725 pts)
1. Kettiany Clarke 4,064 pts PRO
16. Ceci Kryst 2,868 pts
M-HEPTATHLON 60m (Auto: 6.60, Prov: 6.71)
8. Jerry Thompson III 7.30 (779 pts)
9. Scott Pierce 7.37 (755 pts)
10. Michael Humphrey 7.42 (739 pts)
11. Eddie Stoudemire 7.47 (723 pts)
M-HEPTATHLON Long Jump (Auto: 7.85m, Prov: 7.50m)
3. Scott Pierce 23-00.50 // 7.02m (818 pts)
9. Jerry Thompson III 20-07.75 // 6.29m (650 pts)
12. Michael Humphrey 18-11.25 // 5.77m (537 pts)
13. Eddie Stoudemire 18-06.00 // 5.64m (510 pts)
M-HEPTATHLON High Jump (Auto: 2.24m, Prov: 2.14m)
4. Scott Pierce 6-05.50 // 1.97m (776 pts)
8. Jerry Thompson III 5-10.25 // 1.79m (619 pts)
11. Eddie Stoudemire 5-08.00 // 1.73m (569 pts)
Michael Humphrey NH
M-HEPTATHLON Shot Put (Auto: 19.30m, Prov: 17.75m)
2. Eddie Stoudemire 40-11.00 // 12.47m (635 pts)
4. Scott Pierce 39-01.25 // 11.92m (602 pts)
7. Jerry Thompson III 38-03.50 // 11.67m (586 pts)
13. Michael Humphrey 31-02.50 // 9.51m (456 pts)