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Oct. 20, 2015

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – The track and field program hosted its annual banquet on Friday, Sept. 25, held at the Hilton hotel in downtown Columbia. The team celebrated its past indoor and outdoor seasons with awards and recognition, and was treated to a speech from alumna Ellakisha Williamson.

Williamson won the 4×4 national title in 2000 as part of a team with the Lisa and Miki Barber and Demetria Washington. In her time at Carolina, she was also a six-time All-American (2x 100mH, 4x 4×400 relay) and won three events at the 1999 SEC Outdoor Championships (100mH, 400mH, 4×4 relay).

In the program record book, she still owns the fastest 100mH (12.81), third-fastest 60mH (8.15), sixth-fastest 55mH (7.66) and seventh-fastest 400mH times in program history (57.32). On an international level, she was an Olympic trials participant ahead of the 2000 games in Athens, Greece.

Also at the banquet, the team announced its group of captains for the upcoming 2015-16 season. For the men, Dondre Echols, Jermaine Collier, Jussi Kanervo, Alexandre Asselin and Kaleb Zuidema will be captains.

The women have selected Tyler Brockington, Sarah Graham, Chalese Davis, Anna Todd, Olivia Hassler and Erika Rucker.

“On the men’s side, all of those guys are elite-level athletes but they’re also great people,” head coach Curtis Frye said. “They’re from varied parts of the country and the world, and diversity is important to our program. Our team is a family, and it is a diverse family, so I love how our team looked through and selected people from all over.”

The 11 leaders had to “campaign” for the opportunity and were elected based off the votes from their fellow Gamecocks. It was a way for Coach Frye, who is entering his 20th season at Carolina, to ensure the group knew what a special honor it was to be considered a captain. In each weekend of competition, the coaching staff will choose a pair of men and women to represent the team on and off the track. The process is a way for the team to recognize the best qualities of its student-athletes — training smart, staying fit, and working diligently in the classroom.

“They represent our team so well,” Frye added. “They are people who appreciate the legacy of being a captain here at Carolina, and a loyalty to the program through the years. All the rest of their years, they will stand for not just being a track letterman, but a captain as well.”

2015 Track & Field Award Winners
Indoor Rookie of the Year – Track (Men): Ncincilili Titi
Indoor Rookie of the Year – Field (Men): Josh Awotunde
Outdoor Rookie of the Year – Track (Men): Isaiah Moore
Outdoor Rookie of the Year – Field (Men): Josh Awotunde
Outdoor Rookie of the Year – Field (Women): Nakita Gray
Outdoor Rookie of the Year – Track (Women): Hannah Giangaspro
Co-Leadership (Men): Kaleb Zuidema and Kevin Keating
Leadership (Women): Jeannelle Scheper
Co-Most Improved Indoor Track (Men): Jussi Kanervo and Dondre Echols
Most Improved Indoor Field (Men): Clarence Gallop
Most Improved Indoor Track (Women): Anna Todd
Most Improved Outdoor Track (Men): Kevin Keating
Most Improved Outdoor Field (Men): Clarence Gallop
Most Improved Outdoor Track (Women): Alexis Murphy
Most Improved Outdoor Field (Women): Natasha Dicks
Coaches’ Award (Men): Clayton Gravesande
Coaches’ Award (Women): Shelby Freedman
Sportsmanship Award (Men): Chris Walker
Co-Sportsmanship Award (Women): Aalayah Faulcon and Maya Evans
Indoor Track MVP (Men): Jermaine Collier
Indoor Track MVP (Women): Briana Haith
Indoor Field MVP (Men): Markus Leemet
Indoor Field MVP (Women): Nakita Gray
Outdoor Track Co-MVPs (Men): Dondre Echols and Jussi Kanervo
Outdoor MVP (Women): Jeannelle Scheper
Outdoor Field MVP (Men): Markus Leemet
Outstanding Performance Award (Men): Michael Wamer
Outstanding Performance Award (Women): Jeannelle Scheper
Horse Award (Men): Markus Leemet
Horse Award (Women): Gabby Gray
Deronda Powell Award: Maya Evans
James Bouknight Award: Kevin Keating