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May 14, 2016

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The South Carolina track and field team broke the seal for scoring on day two of the SEC Championships Friday, enjoying four scorers in the field events. Through two days of action, the men rank ninth overall and the women 13th.

Sarah Graham started the streak of scorers after wrapping up her heptathlon competition. The senior became the team’s first back-to-back scorer in the heptathlon since Kettiany Clarke in 2008-09. She finished eighth with a score of 5,293, and added one more personal best to her weekend with a 10-foot improvement in the javelin.

Scorers kept rolling in for the field events, this time it would be the men who earned their points. Josh Awotunde made his return to the shot put after almost two months due to injury, and he would show little rust against a deep field of competitors. He sat fourth after the preliminary round of throws, but with just one throw left he was pushed back to fifth. The sophomore made his bid for the medal stand with his best throw of the day at 61-8 ½ on his final throw to move to third, but he would be passed late to settle in to fourth.

The women would get a surprise performance out of their throwers to score again later on in the afternoon. Shelby Freedman opened her javelin competition with a respectable PR of nine inches to reach 156 feet, but she would one-up that effort in a big way on her second throw. The sophomore threw 168 feet on her second attempt, pushing her 12 feet clear of any other competitor in her flight. That mark stood strong through the finals as well, giving her a sixth-place finish despite her entering the weekend ranked 16th in the conference.

Freedman became the women’s team’s first scorer in the event since 2012, and had the best finish since Katie Desin’s third-place finish back in 2004. On the national level, her mark moves her up from 59th in Division I to the top 20, based on marks entering the weekend.

As the sun started to set, the final preliminary track events were run, starting with the high hurdles. The Carolina men will again be well represented in Saturday’s 110m hurdle final, after three Gamecocks qualified for the final for the second straight season. Dondre Echols (13.748) and Isaiah Moore (13.75) finished second and third, respectively, and Jermaine Collier ran his best time of the season to take sixth (13.83).

The women earned a spot in the Saturday finals thanks to the efforts of Aliyah Abrams. The freshman ran the fifth-fastest qualifying time in the 400m, crossing in 52.75. She now has a chance to score both indoors and outdoors for the team, and joins Tyler Brockington as individual finalists going into the final day.

Friday would come to a close with men’s javelin and the conclusion of the decathlon. Alexandre Asselin exploded through his final five events, setting new personal bests in the 110m hurdles, 1500m, discus and javelin to reach a new high in total points. He finished with 7,219, the fifth-highest score in school history.

Kaleb Zuidema kept the PRs rolling in for the final event of the night, the javelin. He opened with a throw of 227-4 that carried him comfortably into the finals. In his first round of throws in the final, he uncorked a mark of 233 feet, two inches that pushed him all the way up to second. It broke a two-year-old personal best by four feet and moved him into the top 30 nationally, but he would fall to the same fate as Awotunde and was knocked off the medal stand in the final round of throws, moving back to fourth but scoring valuable points for the team.


Saturday will bring an end to the team’s weekend in Tuscaloosa. The men will have individual finals in the 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles and 5,000m, along with field finals in the high jump, pole vault, triple jump and discus. The women have finals in the 400, 400m hurdles and 5,000, with field finals in the high jump and triple jump. Relays will start and end the final day, with the 4x100s running at 3 p.m. CT and the 4×400 closing the meet at 6 p.m.

100m (Prelims)
10. David Winters 10.46 (-0.2)
21. Ncincilili Titi 10.67 (-0.2)
26. DeVon Lewis 10.85 (-0.1)
400m (Prelims)
20. Ryan Bermudez 47.63
1500m (Prelims)
27. Alex Sullivan 3:54.01
110m Hurdles (Prelims)
2. Dondre Echols 13.748 Q
3. Isaiah Moore 13.750 Q
6. Jermaine Collier 13.83 q
Shot Put (Final)
4. Josh Awotunde 18.81m | 61-8 ½
Javelin (Final)
4. Kaleb Zuidema 71.07m | 233-2
1500m (Decathlon)
3. Alexandre Asselin 4:32.28 (730)
110m Hurdles (Decathlon)
10. Alexandre Asselin 15.09 (0.7) (848)
Pole Vault (Decathlon)
8. Alexandre Asselin 4.45m | 14-7 ¼ (746)
Javelin (Decathlon)
9. Alexandre Asselin 47.83m | 156-11 (557)
Discus (Decathlon)
7. Alexandre Asselin 38.83m | 127-4 (641)
Decathlon (Final)
9. Alexandre Asselin 7,219 points
100m (Prelims)
28. Gabby Gray 11.90 (-0.1)
31. Makyla Stanley 12.06 (0.4)
33. Ahtyana Johnson 12.11 (0.5)
400m (Prelims)
5. Aliyah Abrams 52.75 q
12. Erika Rucker 53.51
13. Precious Holmes 53.61
1500m (Prelims)
26. Meri Heneage 4:36.23
30. Allie Mueller 4:40.35
31. Allie Sprague 4:44.50
100m Hurdles (Prelims)
18. Chalese Davis 13.77 (1.5)
24. Milan Parks 14.08 (1.5)
25. Funlayo Oluwole 14.18 (0.4)
Long Jump (Final)
11. Natasha Dicks 6.10m | 20-0 ¼ (2.8)
18. Chalese Davis 5.94m | 19-6 (1.9)
23. Makyla Stanley 5.62m | 18-5 ¼ (2.0)
Javelin (Final)
6. Shelby Freedman 51.20m | 168-0
17. Amy Suttmeier 45.23m | 148-4
800m (Heptathlon)
8. Sarah Graham 2:22.40 (791)
Javelin (Heptathlon)
8. Sarah Graham 33.70m | 110-7 (547)
Long Jump (Heptathlon)
10. Sarah Graham 5.35m | 17-6 ¾ (657)
Heptathlon (Final)
8. Sarah Graham 5,298 points