March 12, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – South Carolina junior Antonio Sales ran a personal best 20.52 to take bronze in the 200-meter dash in the first day of competition at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships to lead the Gamecocks at the Randall Tyson Track. In addition, three Gamecocks qualified for Saturday’s finals in short sprinter Lakya Brookins and men’s hurdlers Johnny Dutch and Booker Nunley.
The bronze medal honor is the highest for Sales at the national meet and is the best South Carolina finish in the event since Olympian Rodney Martin also earned bronze medal honors in 2005. Sales’s time is also second all-time at South Carolina to Martin’s best time of 20.38.
“It’s a blessing,” Sales said of his race. “I just want to thank God first of all because without him none of this could be possible. It’s just a blessing to show hard work does pay off. I feel like I put in the work, so it feels great. I just remember coach telling me before the race to come off the curve and fight all the way home. When I saw the time I was kind of surprised but not really because the coaches told me I could do it all year. They just believed in me and finally I believed in myself.”
For the first time since 2003, the Gamecocks had two men qualify for the finals in the 60-meter hurdles with the advancement of junior Johnny Dutch and sophomore Booker Nunley. In that year, former Gamecocks Kenneth Ferguson and Corey Taylor placed sixth and eighth, respectively, in the preliminary round. In Friday’s prelims, Nunley took sixth at 7.69 and Dutch ran a season best 7.73 to take seventh. Both will run in the final Saturday at 7:35 p.m.
Defending national champion Lakya Brookins qualified for Saturday’s final after claiming seventh in the preliminary round at 7.27. The SEC champion ran 7.18 on the same track two weeks ago and will need another strong showing to reclaim gold in a field that includes five SEC runners of the eight finalists. Teammate Gabrielle Glenn claimed 16th at 7.42 in her first individual appearance at the indoor championships.
Senior Elliott Haynie finished ninth in the pole vault with a top clearance of 17’2 Â¾ (5.25m). With the placement, Haynie earns his first All-America honor as a Gamecock.
In the men’s 400-meter, senior Obakeng Ngwigwa represented the Gamecocks for the first time as an individual indoors and placed 14th with a time of 47.29 after taking fourth in the third heat. On the women’s side, Brandi Cross and Nadonnia Rodrigues competed together for the second consecutive year. Cross raced to a time of 54.61 to finish 16th overall. Rodrigues ran 53.55 but was disqualified after the race for a lane violation, continuing an unlucky run at indoor nationals that began last season when a hamstring injury caused her to fall to the track 100 meters into the race.
Auburn leads the women’s standings with 18 points, followed by Tennessee. The men’s standings are led by Arkansas with 24 points, followed by Florida.
South Carolina returns to action Saturday beginning with the women’s pentathlon at 12:30 p.m. Senior Kettiany Clarke will compete in the event two weeks after earning South Carolina’s first SEC title.
|FRIDAY, MARCH 12 – WOMEN|
|T7. Lakya Brookins||7.27q (7.269)|
|16. Gabrielle Glenn||7.42|
|15. Brandi Cross||54.61|
|Nadonnia Rodrigues||DQ (53.55)|
|FRIDAY, MARCH 12 – MEN|
|7. Antonio Sales||20.90q SB|
|3. Antonio Sales||20.52 PR|
|14. Obakeng Ngwigwa||47.29|
|M-60m Hurdles Prelim|
|6. Booker Nunley||7.69q|
|7. Johnny Dutch||7.73q SB|
|9. Elliott Haynie||17-02.75 (5.25m)|