May 16, 2010
|Men’s Team Finishes Third at SEC Outdoors|
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The South Carolina men’s track and field team earned 89 points to finish a program best third at the SEC Outdoor Championships Sunday at Tom Black Track. Coach Curtis Frye’s team edged Auburn by one point to make history as the first group of Gamecock men to earn a top three finish at the premier outdoor conference championship in the nation.
“This is fantastic,” Frye said. “We came in ranked sixth and the guys picked it up. We got points from everywhere. It was a total team effort. The biggest was the relay. Each of the (4×4) guys picked each other up.”
The women’s team finished eighth with 48.5 points. In the individual standings, junior Johnny Dutch finished fourth with a combined 17.50 points accumulated through three events.
“I thank God for allowing me to get through the day,” Dutch said. “It’s been really hard to be able to run through the really because it’s been wet, stormy and windy, but no excuses. I still gave it my all. I didn’t run as well as I wanted to in the 400 hurdles and 110 hurdles, but it happened for me. I’m so proud of our guys team right now.”
Trailing Auburn in the men’s final standings by five points with only the men’s 4x400m relay remaining, the Gamecock relay team of Obakeng Ngwigwa, Quentin Moore, Aaron Anderson and Dutch needed third or better to drive the men’s team to third in the overall standings. The quartet was aware of the pressure and stepped up to the challenge by claiming third at 3:04.19, sending the South Carolina teams into jubilation at seeing the official results posted on the video board.
“This was my last SEC,” Ngwigwa said, who ran the leadoff leg of the relay. “I had to make it as good as I could. I’m trying to leave these guys somewhere they can take over and continue.”
“OB was coming hard and I had to run my hardest,” Moore said of his second leg. “I was a little scared on the first curve, but Coach Frye always tells us to get out as hard as we can and just ride home. It was an experience. First time third place at an SEC Outdoor Championship.”
“I felt good,” Anderson said, the third leg runner. “I was a little too hard on the backstretch. I lacked a little bit coming home but we’ll fix it this week in practice. I just wanted to run my hardest for these seniors. This is their last year, so we wanted to send them out with a bang and get momentum going into regionals.”
Senior Elliott Haynie earned the first pole vault double crown in Gamecock history by finishing his final season with an SEC title in both the indoor and outdoor pole vault events. Haynie was the sole competitor to clear 17’3 Â¾ (5.28m) to become just the second SEC outdoor pole vault champion at Carolina. His title broke a four-year streak of champions from Tennessee.
“I feel so good,” Haynie said. “It’s been such a long and tough year. Just to pull it out my senior year and go out on the top in the conference feels good. I’m thankful. This is exactly what I expected. I didn’t come to SEC to get second. That’s what I expected, that’s what happened and I got 10 points for my team and coaches.”
Haynie’s title came after yet another weather delay at this weekend’s championships. Teammates Matt Shuler and Marvin Reitze both no heighted after leg and groin aggravations before competition was suspended at 1:53 p.m. Pole vault coach Lawrence Johnson was a four-time NCAA champion when attending the University of Tennessee and used his experience in Knoxville to prep Haynie on how to stay focused during the hour-long delay between jumps.
“I had a little bit of an advantage,” Haynie said of his tutelage from Johnson. “My coach Lawrence Johnson trained here for years since he was in college. He was a good factor. He told us about the weather conditions and what we had to do. He told us to go back to the hotel, relax, get out of the (competition) environment and when it’s time to go just go.”
Dutch continued the SEC trend of back-to-back champions in the 400-meter hurdles with his second straight title. The junior All-American ran 49.56 to win the championship, breaking away from the field over the last 150 meters to coast through the line.
Booker Nunley and Johnny Dutch earned silver and bronze, respectively, in the 110-meter hurdles, matching their placement indoors in the 60-meter hurdle SEC finals. Nunley has now earned three consecutive silver medals in hurdle events, taking second at the 2009 outdoor championships as well as the 2010 indoor and outdoor championships. He ran 13.64 in the final after initially being a questionable entrant for this year’s event due to a minor injury throughout the week.
Dutch claimed bronze at 13.77 in his first event of the day. The placement was an improvement of his 2009 performance when he took fourth in a year that the Gamecocks went 1-2-4 in the 110-meter hurdles.
“That was definitely my primary goal–to defend my title–and to possibly go after a 110 title,” Dutch said of his race. “But under the conditions, it was kind of hard to run as fast as I wanted to.”
Sprinters Antonio Sales and Obakeng Ngwigwa lined up for the men’s 200-meter final with something to prove after taking fifth and sixth in the prelims. Knowing the Gamecocks needed points to remain in medal contention, the duo stepped up to the plate and delivered as Sales ran out of lane eight to earn his first individual silver medal with a time of 20.73. Ngwigwa also impressed by taking bronze in his second race of the day with a time of 20.84, his first medal at an SEC Championship. Earlier in the day, Ngwigwa placed seventh in the final with a time of 46.09.
The South Carolina women’s 4x100m relay team has medaled in the event every year since 1999, and the team of Breehana Jacobs, Shayla Mahan, Gabrielle Glenn and Tatianna Fisher kept the tradition alive with a second straight silver medal. The quartet ran 44.36 to claim silver medal honors, showing the depth that has come to symbolize the Gamecock Ladies of Track despite All-American Lakya Brookins not competing this year due to illness.
South Carolina women’s hurdles found a resurgence with the finishes of Kettiany Clarke and Janica Austin in the 100-meter hurdle finals. Clarke earned the bronze medal in the event with a time of 13.70, a mere three days after setting the facility record in the event during the heptathlon competition. Austin placed fifth for the second consecutive year with a time of 13.74 as the Gamecocks collected 10 points total. Austin also took fifth in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 59.55, earning eight points on the day for the Gamecock women’s team.
Two Gamecocks scored in the men’s discus throw for the first time since 1999 with senior Jeff Merkt leading the way with a fourth place finish at a season best 168-08 (51.40m). Junior Michael Zajac placed sixth with a toss of 164-05 (50.12m), giving the All-American points in the hammer and discus throws this week. Freshmen Louis Day (144-04) and Andrew Finley (141-05) took 11th and 12th, respectively.
“I’m pleased overall,” Merkt said of placing fourth. “It was a seasonal best. I wish I would have gotten third and medaled, but right now we’re just trying to see if I’ll sneak into regionals or not. Overall it was decent.”
Freshman Lincoln Carr continues to dazzle the conference in his first collegiate season after claiming fifth overall in the triple jump with a best of 50’10 Â¼ (15.50m). Carr also scored at the indoor meet when he claimed sixth overall. Four other teammates competed in the event with Aaron Searles placing 10th (49’2 Â½), Scott Pierce taking 15th (47’0 Â¼), Tony Brown taking 17th (45’7 Â¼) and Jarett Gerald placing 19th (44’8).
Senior Brandi Cross capped her final SEC Outdoor Championship with a sixth place finish in the 400-meter dash at 53.40. Her race immediately followed a 1-hour, 20-minute weather delay, the second suspension of events on Sunday due to heavy rain and lightning in the Knoxville area.
Freshman David Wilkins tied for seventh in the high jump to score at the conference meet for the first time in his young career. Wilkins cleared 6’8 Â¾ (2.05m) on his second attempt to earn a point for the men. He becomes the first scorer in the high jump since Fred Townsend also took seventh in 2003.
Junior Gabrielle Glenn placed eighth in the 100-meter dash final with a time of 11.62. Glenn also ran on the 4x400m relay team that placed seventh at 3:37.16. Also running were Brandi Cross, Kelsey McCorkle and Breehana Jacobs.
In women’s field events, sophomore Stacee Roberts took ninth in the shot put with a throw of 47’11 Â¾ (14.62m), followed immediately by teammates Katie Vuckovich (10th, 46’6 Â¼) and Breanna Radford (11th, 45’10). Aimee Kodat took 19th at 40’0. Radiance Basden finished 10th in the triple jump, an improvement of five spots from her freshman season. Basden had a best jump of 39’6 Â½ (12.05m).
South Carolina will return to the track in two weeks when the team competes at the NCAA Preliminary Round in Greensboro, N.C. Carolina’s regional qualifiers will compete at Irwin Belk Track on the campus of North Carolina A&T for the chance to advance to Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Championships.
|SUNDAY, MAY 16 – WOMEN|
|8. Gabrielle Glenn||11.62|
|6. Brandi Cross||53.40|
|W-100m Hurdles Final|
|3. Kettiany Clarke||13.70|
|5. Janica Austin||13.74|
|W-400m Hurdles Final|
|5. Janica Austin||59.55|
|2. Jacobs, Mahan, Glenn, Fisher||44.36|
|7, Cross, Glenn, McCorkle, Jacobs||3:37.16|
|10. Radiance Basden||39-06.50 (12.05m)|
|9. Stacee Roberts||47-11.75 (14.62m)|
|10. Katie Vuckovich||46-06.25 (14.18m)|
|11. Breanna Radford||45-10.00 (13.97m)|
|19. Aimee Kodat||40-00.00 (12.19m)|
|SUNDAY, MAY 16 – MEN|
|2. Antonio Sales||20.73|
|3. Obakeng Ngwigwa||20.84|
|7. Obakeng Ngwigwa||46.09|
|M-110m Hurdles Final|
|2. Booker Nunley||13.64|
|3. Johnny Dutch||13.77|
|M-400m Hurdles Final|
|1. Johnny Dutch||49.56|
|5. Carter, Sales, Moore, Ngwigwa||39.57|
|3. Ngwigwa, Moore, Anderson, Dutch||3:04.19|
|5. Lincoln Carr||50-10.25 (15.50m)|
|10. Aaron Searles||49-02.50 (15.00m)|
|15. Scott Pierce||47-00.25 (14.33m)|
|17. Tony Brown||45-07.25 (13.90m)|
|19. Jarett Gerald||44-08.00 (13.61m)|
|T7. Dave Wilkins||6-08.75 (2.05m)|
|1. Elliott Haynie||17-03.75 (5.28m)|
|4. Jeff Merkt||168-08 (51.40m)|
|6. Michael Zajac||164-05 (50.12m)|
|11. Louis Day||144-04 (43.99m)|
|12. Andrew Finley||141-05 (43.11m)|