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March 7, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Southeastern Conference announced its All-SEC teams Monday, based on the performances at the conference championships in Arkansas Feb. 26-27. Nakita Gray made the All-SEC first team, three Gamecocks earned second team honors, and Aliyah Abrams made the All-Freshman team.

Nakita Gray soared to the gold medal in the women’s high jump at SECs, clearing 1.82 meters (5′ 11 ½”). She became the team’s first SEC gold medalist in any jump discipline ââ’¬” men or women ââ’¬” and is the first conference champion in a field event for the women since Kettiany Clarke’s pentathlon championship in 2010. Her mark of 1.82 meters ranked her 20th in the country for the indoor season, and is the second-best mark in school history.

Earning a place on the All-SEC second team were Josh Awotunde, Dondre Echols, and Briana Haith. Awotunde won silver in the shot put, after improving his distance on all four of his successful attempts to top out at 62 feet, 3 ¼ inches on his second-to-last throw for a new personal best. He finished over a foot better than the bronze-medal finisher and became the men’s team’s first silver medalist in any event since 2012, and the first silver medalist in the shot since Jason Cook in 2009.

Echols won the bronze medal in the 60 meter hurdles, running a time of 7.74 in the finals. It was the senior’s best finish ever at the conference’s indoor championship, following up a silver medal at the outdoor championships last summer. Dondre finished the season ranked fourth overall in Division I to qualify for nationals, with a top time of 7.69 that ranks seventh in school history.

Haith used a big kick in the final 100 meters of her 400 meter dash to claim the bronze medal. Her time of 52.34 was a personal best and moved her up to seventh in school history for the quarter mile. She is the women’s first medalist in the 400 since Brandi Cross in 2010 and qualified for the national meet after ending the season with the sixth-fastest time in Division I.

Abrams showed just a small sample of why the future is so bright at South Carolina, finishing the season as the nation’s fastest freshman in the 400m. She scored for the team at SECs with a seventh-place finish in the finals, a day removed from running the top qualifying time of 52.60. That time moved her all the way up to 11th in school history for the quarter mile, a placed her 18th in the country for the event this year.

Echols and Haith will get one more chance at glory for the indoor season, as the two prepare now for the NCAA Indoor National Championships. The meet will be held March 11-12 in Birmingham, Ala. at the Birmingham CrossPlex. The two will be joined by Natasha Dicks (triple jump), Ncincilili Titi (200m) and David Winters (200m). A full preview of the meet will be available at later this week.