March 24, 2016
ATLANTA, GA. – The South Carolina track and field team aims to build off a successful outdoor debut this weekend as it heads to the Yellow Jacket Invitational, hosted by Georgia Tech. The two-day meet in Atlanta will run March 25-26.
The Gamecocks opened its outdoor season with a strong weekend at the Alan Connie Shamrock Invitational last weekend, hosted by Coastal Carolina. The Gamecocks stacked the top five in almost every event entered and swept the men’s and women’s relay trophy. Named the Mayor’s Relay Cup, the award factors in the four relays from the weekend – the 4×100, 4×200, 4×400 and 4×800 – and scores the races for every participating team. The Gamecocks ran away with the win, with the women beating second-place Clemson 36-23 and the men beating second-place North Carolina A&T 32-21.
The clinching race for the crown came in the final event of the weekend, when the men and women swept the 4x4s. For the men, Ryan Bermudez, Jussi Kanervo, Greg Chiles and Jermaine Collier ran a 3:09.72 to edge out Clemson by .21 seconds. On the women’s side, it was a convincing two-second margin for the team of Aliyah Abrams, Marisa Bellamy, Precious Holmes and Tyler Brockington, who beat out Clemson with a time of 3:36.68.
The team got off to a good start in the two Friday relays to set them up well for the Mayor’s Cup race, highlighted by a sweep of the 4x200m. The men’s team of David Winters, Dondre Echols, Ryan Bermudez and Ncincilili Titi won with a time of 1:23.26. For the women, Aliyah Abrams, Tyler Brockington, Briana Haith and Maiya Dendy ran a time of 1:33.37 to edge Purdue out for the win. It was the best time in the event for the women since 2014.
The Gamecocks would also run in the 4x800m relays Friday, and picked up top-three finishes from the men and women. Allie Mueller, Irene Vian, Ashley Miller, and Maya Evans finished second overall, and their time of 9:10.44 put them just two thousandths of a second from cracking the program’s top 10. The men’s team of Otis Jones, Jussi Kanervo, Michael Elwood and Andrew Galang finished third in the relay, crossing in a time of 7:41.82.
Friday also featured the conclusion of the women’s heptathlon and men’s decathlon competitions. Sarah Graham held on to a two-point lead in the heptathlon through the first four events on Thursday, and it would come down to the final event Friday to decide the competition. She finished third in the long jump and 800m, and sixth in the javelin to wrap up her competition. Graham would take second place overall with a total score of 5,023 points. In the decathlon, Simon Gyllensten built off a win in the 1500m on day two to finish fifth overall with a score of 5,950. Bryce Simpson finished seventh in the field with 3,688 points.
Friday also featured a number of field event finals. In the throws, Kaleb Zuidema opened his season with a fourth-place finish in the javelin, coming in at 228 feet, three inches – just under a foot shy of his personal best. In the jumps, three Gamecocks finished in the top six of the women’s high jump. Chalese Davis was the team’s top finisher, placing third with a top mark of 19 feet, four inches. Right behind her in fourth was Alexis Murphy (19-0) and Milan Parks came in sixth (18-7). In the men’s long jump, Tye Williams led the team with a fifth-place finish (24-0 3/4), Michael Wamer came in sixth (23-11) and Isaiah Moore placed ninth (23-3 1/4).
The field events remained strong on the meet’s final day, as Josh Awotunde opened his outdoor season with a win in the discus and a second-place finish in the shot put that saw him set a major personal best. In the discus, he cleared the rest of the field by more than eight feet, hitting his top mark of 184-6 on his final throw. In the shot, he came second but blew up his personal record book with a mark of 61-11 3/4. It added a foot to his best collegiate mark, and it moved him all the way up to fourth in school history. Also in the field events Saturday, Ty Williams capped a great weekend with a second-place finish in the high jump. He broke his outdoor PR with a vault of 6-10 3/4, a day after setting a personal best in the long jump at 24-0 3/4. Michael Wamer also was a runner-up, taking second in the triple jump with a top mark of 50-0 3/4.
In the individual track events Saturday, the Gamecocks enjoyed 10 top-three finishers between the men (four) and women (six). The hurdles would be a strong discipline for both programs, with the women getting second in the 100 (Chalese Davis) and 400 (Tyler Brockington) finals and the men taking third in the 110 (Jermaine Collier) and second in the 400 (Jussi Kanervo).
After the first weekend of action, South Carolina leads the SEC in 10 different events and has 15 different individuals ranked in the top 20 nationally. The men’s and women’s 4×1 and 4×4 relay teams are all ranked in the top 12 nationally.