March 31, 2016
GAINESVILLE, FLA. – The 2016 outdoor season ramps up in a big way for the Gamecock track and field program this weekend, as South Carolina heads to Gainesville for the 76th annual Florida Relays. The three day meet will be hosted by the University of Florida, and features most of the top programs in Division I as well as athletes from countries all around the world.
The meet begins Thursday afternoon with the Gamecocks competing in four events. For the men, Clarence Gallop and Kaleb Zuidema will compete in the hammer and javelin, respectively. The women will open the weekend on the track, starting with Precious Holmes and Erika Rucker in the open 400m. To cap the night, Mary Reiser, Christine Kent and Monica York will run the 5,000m.
Day two will be the main day for individual action, with South Carolina competing in six field events (five for the women) and 11 races on the track. The final day of the meet promises to be thrilling from start to finish, as the relays take over Percy Beard Track all day Saturday. The Gamecocks are scheduled to run in the shuttle hurdle, sprint medley, 4×1, 4×2, 4×4 and 4×8 relays, with the men’s and women’s 4×4 invitational runs capping the weekend Saturday night.
Last weekend, the team competed at the Yellow Jacket Invitational Saturday on the campus of Georgia Tech. The Gamecocks won four individual events and two relay races on a packed day of events.
The meet began Friday night with just two events, the hammer throw and the 5000m. Clarence Gallop got the weekend started right with a new personal best in the hammer to finish third overall. The junior threw 212 feet, nine inches in his fourth attempt for his top mark of the night, adding seven inches to his previous best set last season. His throw keeps him firmly in fifth in school history, but it’s the best hammer mark by any Gamecock since Bert Sorin in 1999.
Carolina had a busy day two, but started things on the right foot with the women taking home the 4x100m relay. The quartet of Tyler Brockington, Briana Haith, Taranisha Taylor and Maiya Dendy ran 44.88 to win the race, followed by Gabby Gray, Alexis Murphy, Funlayo Oluwole and Makyla Stanley in third. The men went fourth and sixth with their two 4×1 teams. The women closed out the meet with another relay win, this time in the mile relay. Marisa Bellamy, Aliyah Abrams, Erika Rucker and Briana Haith won with a time of 3:35.22, beating out Clemson and Notre Dame.
“We’re trying to look for pieces, we don’t have one sensational athlete but we have a lot of depth,” head coach Curtis Frye said after the meet. “Our women’s 4×4 relay is getting pretty set, Erika stepped in today which gives us a lot of help. At this point in the season, we’re just trying to get as many bodies as we can ready to go.”
Aside from her win in the relays, Haith also picked up the women’s top individual finish of the day. The junior won the women’s 400, holding off Abrams at the tape for a winning time of 53.25 that was just four thousandths of a second off her personal best. Abrams held close the whole way, finishing in 53.29 in her first quarter mile race of the outdoor season. The two rank 10th and 11th in the country, respectively, and Abrams now has the second-fastest time by a freshman so far this spring.
The return of a pair of indoor All-Americans boosted the men’s performance in their second weekend of the season. David Winters opened up with a 10.46 time in the 100m dash to beat out a field of 32, and Ncincilili Titi finished second overall in a field of 43 runners in the 200, crossing in a time of 20.78 that puts him sixth in the country and is his fastest indoor or outdoor time this season. He also ran the second leg of the team’s 4×100 relay, helping it finish in 40.11 to move up to 19th in the country.
The hurdles would show off the depth of South Carolina on Saturday, as Jussi Kanervo won again in the 400m event and Isaiah Moore ran as the top collegian in the 110 race. For the women, Chalese Davis finished second overall in the 100 to lead four Gamecocks in the top 9 for the race.
In the field events, Natasha Dicks made her outdoor debut after earning bronze at indoor nationals. The junior picked up right where she left off, winning the triple jump (at 41′ 7 3/4″) to top the field of 15, giving her the eighth-best mark in the country and the top mark in the SEC through two weekends. She also finished 10th in the long jump at 18-9 1/4, just shy of a personal best, to cap a busy day in Atlanta.
“It’s still early in the season, finding out what pieces we’ll have to work with later but we have some people stepping up and performing well,” coach Frye added. “Titi and Clarence’s performances were really solid for us, and Isaiah got going on the hurdles today with a good run. He had a good time and he looked good doing it, so we like how he’s progressing. Our women’s 400 runners had good runs, the weather wasn’t that nice this weekend so we made the best of it.”
Now through the first two weekends of outdoor competition, 10 men and five women rank in the top 25 nationally for their individual events and five relay teams are ranked in the top 20.
Live results will be available through GamecocksOnline.com, and fans can follow along on Twitter at @GamecockTrack.