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April 30, 2011

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By Miquel Jacobs
Media Relations Assistant

Kierre Beckles National Record Paces Gamecocks At Penn Relays

Johnny Dutch

PHILADELPHIA – Former South Carolina track athletes comprised a large component of the USA vs. The World professional series in the final day of competition at the 117th Penn Relays Carnival. As the first event of the 2011 Visa Championship Series, five of Coach Curtis Frye’s protégé’s competed for Team USA and Team Jamaica in front of 48,531 fans at Franklin Field.

Former Gamecocks competing in the event that was televised on tape delay on ESPN2 were Johnny Dutch, Kenneth Ferguson, Aleen Bailey, Miki Barber and Natasha Hastings.

Hastings, a 2008 Beijing gold medalist on USA’s mile relay, ran the third leg of the USA Red team that won the 4×400-meter relay at 3:22.92. Hastings ran the third leg with a 50.30 split – the fastest on the team – with Debbie Dunn (51.1), Allyson Felix (50.30) and Sanya Richards-Ross (51.18) comprising the rest of her winning team.

“I thought it was cool that I kept both of my shoes on,” Hastings said, alluding to last year’s Penn Relays when a teammate clipped her on the final handoff, forcing Hastings to run 400 meters with only one shoe on. “It was kind of rough. Everybody came out to run (today). I ran my entire leg in lane 2, so I’m pretty excited to be able to still hold it down and stay close enough for Sanya to be able to bring it home with the win.”

Dutch, the 2010 NCAA Champion in the 400-meter hurdles in his final season at South Carolina, ran anchor for the Team USA (Blue) that placed fourth in the 4×400-meter USA vs. The World relay with a time of 3:05.99. Dutch, who five days ago was named the South Carolina Male Athlete of the Year at the athletics departments award banquet, ran a 47.19 split in his first professional appearance as a relay member for Team USA. It was his first time putting on the red, white and blue since competing for his country at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin as a sophomore for the Gamecocks. Since then, he has twice earned USA Outdoor Championship silver medal honors in the intermediate hurdles.

“It was very exciting,” Dutch said of his race. “This is (one of) my first premier races as a professional. I felt a little pressure because they stress that USA always dominates in the 4×4, so I didn’t want to let my home crowd down. I gave it my all. I’m still a little inexperienced in the 4×4, but through the years I’ll definitely catch on. It kind of felt surreal because last year I was still warming up as a collegiate athlete and seeing all the pros with the USA gear on. Now that I’m in that place it feels surreal, but all praise goes to God. He presented me with an opportunity to turn professional, so I took that opportunity. All I can do is stay positive and hope for good things in the future.”

Two of the former Gamecocks competed in the women’s 4×100-meter relay as Miki Barber ran the second leg for USA Blue, and Aleen Bailey ran the third leg for Team Jamaica. Barber’s relay took second overall at 42.64, and Bailey’s team took third at 42.74.

Kenneth Ferguson, a three-time All-American at South Carolina, ran the second leg of the USA Blue distance medley relay team for the second consecutive year. Ferguson’s team placed fourth overall at 9:20.24.