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Jan. 16, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Gamecocks dive into the indoor season this weekend at the Virginia Tech Invitational in Blacksburg, Va. Many South Carolina athletes, including returning All-Americans Jeannelle Scheper and Erika Rucker, are poised to make their 2014 debut over the weekend.

Dates: Fri., Jan. 17 & Sat., Jan. 18
Time: Fri. – 5 p.m. | Sat. – 11:00 a.m. (Field) & 12:15 p.m. (Running)
Location: Blacksburg, Va.
Facility: Rector Fieldhouse
Live Results:
Meet Schedule: Meet Schedule Get Acrobat Reader
Participating Teams: Campbell, Charlotte, Concord, Duke, East Carolina, High Point, North Carolina Central, Radford, South Carolina, St. Augustine, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, William & Mary

South Carolina and host Virginia Tech are the only programs with teams ranked in this week’s USTFCCCA preseason rankings. The Hokie men’s team is No. 19 while South Carolina women’s team begins the season at No. 11. St. Augustine brings the No. 1 men’s team and the No. 24 women’s squad in Division II.

The meet begins on Friday with the triple jump and weight throw. On the track, the 60-meter and 60-meter hurdles will go through preliminary rounds and finals on Friday in addition to the mile run, 1,000-meter run, 500-meter run and 300-meter run.

Saturday, action picks back up at 11 a.m. with the high jump, pole vault, shot put and long jump. The 5,000-meter run kicks off the day’s running events which also features, the 400-meter run, 800-meter run, 200-meter run, 3,000-meter run along with the first relay action of South Carolina’s season (distance medley and 4×400 meter).

Last Time Out
At last weekend’s home meet, the Gamecocks won 13 events, with underclassmen posting eight of the wins. Five freshman – Sango Asante (men’s mile run), Natasha Dicks (women’s long jump), Greg Lowing (men’s 3,000m), Leveshia McClain (women’s 400m) and Mollie Williams (women’s 55mH) – captured a win in their first collegiate events.

Women Start Season at No. 11 in USTFCCCA Preseason Rankings
The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Preseason Division I National Team Computer Rankings was released Monday with the South Carolina women’s track and field squad at No. 11. The spot is the women’s highest preseason and overall ranking since 2010 when the Gamecocks entered the season at No. 7. The 2010 squad went on to finish 19th at the NCAA Indoor Championships. A nation-leading eight SEC teams are featured in the rankings, with all eight representatives landing in the top 15.

NCAA Returners
The women’s squad returns seven NCAA qualifiers – senior Vashti Bandy (Outdoor – 4x100m), sophomore Tyler Brockington (Indoor – 4x400m, Outdoor – 400mH, 4x100m), junior Tamera Harris (Outdoor – 400mH, 4x100m), junior Ahtyana Johnson (Outdoor – 4x100m), redshirt sophomore Kayla Lampe (Outdoor – 10,000m), senior Petra Olsen (Indoor and Outdoor pole vault), junior Erika Rucker (Indoor – 400m, 4x400m, Outdoor – 400m) and senior Jeannelle Scheper (Indoor and Outdoor high jump). Scheper captured the indoor SEC crown and the indoor NCAA silver in 2013. The men’s team brings back one NCAA qualifier in senior Chris Royster who made the trip to Eugene, Ore., in the 100-meter dash.

Gamecock Gem
Anything Senior Jeannelle Scheper does in her final year in the Garnet and Black only cements her legacy as the best high jumper in South Carolina history. After becoming the first-ever Gamecock to qualify for an NCAA Championship event, Scheper promptly earned the first high jump All-America certificate in school history after the indoor season and duplicated the result in the outdoor season. The now four-time All-American earned the Gamecocks’ first SEC high jump crown at the 2013 SEC Indoor Championships and captured a share of the NCAA silver medal at the indoor championships two weeks later. Scheper finished second only to six-time NCAA champion and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Brigetta Barrett. The St. Lucia native will look to break more new ground in 2014 and push her indoor (6’3″ ¼) and outdoor (6’2″) school records even higher.

Up Next
South Carolina hosts its second indoor meet of the season on Wed., Jan. 22 at the USC Indoor Complex. Competition begins with the long jump at 2 p.m. with running events set to start at 4:30 p.m.

Next weekend, the Gamecocks split with one group heading west for the Cherry & Silver Invitational at the site of the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., and the others set to return to Blacksburg, Va., for the Hokie Invitational.