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May 26, 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The South Carolina track and field team started its weekend at the NCAA East Regional on a high note Thursday, as sophomore Shelby Freedman qualified for nationals and seven of 11 runners moved on to the quarterfinal round of their events.

The sophomore from Danville, Pa. had a flair for the dramatics Thursday afternoon, using her last throw of the competition to claim her spot at nationals. Through her first two rounds of attempts, Freedman sat on the outside looking in at 14th overall. Needing to get into the top 12 to make nationals, Freedman uncorked an eight-foot improvement on her final throw to move all the way up to sixth before settling in to eight in the final standings.

“I feel like I’m on cloud nine right now,” she said after the competition. “It was a struggle yesterday going into the competition, but I’m really happy about it. I just thought of it (her final throw) as just another throw… you have to believe in yourself and believe that you can do well.”

Freedman is the team’s first women’s national qualifier in the javelin since Candy Mitchell, the school’s record-holder in the event, made it to the NCAA championships in 2000.

The track events kicked off later in the afternoon, starting with the 400m hurdlers. Tyler Brockington cruised to an automatic bid to the quarterfinals after winning her heat in 57.22, it was the ninth-fastest qualifying time Thursday. On the men’s side, Jussi Kanervo and Greg Chiles moved on to the quarterfinals with auto-bids as well, with Kanervo running 10th (51.16) and Chiles reaching a new personal best to take 15th (51.63). The three Gamecocks will run again tomorrow night for a chance at nationals.

Also on the track Thursday were the prelims for the 100, 400 and 800. In the sprints, David Winters and Ncincilili Titi qualified for tomorrow’s quarterfinals of the 100 meters, with Winters taking seventh (10.37) and Titi going 10.51 to earn an at-large bid in 19th place overall. Otis Jones ran the 23rd-fastest 800 time in the field, but found himself just outside the cut line after running the eighth-fastest time among runners who missed the automatic bid.

The women would also put two sprinters through on day one, both coming in the 400m. Aliyah Abrams ran the fifth-fastest time of the day (52.35) and earned an automatic bid to the quarters. Erika Rucker will move on as well after running her best time of the season in the quarter mile — 53.09. Both will run again tomorrow at 6 p.m. for a chance at nationals.

“Our coaches are doing a great job,” head coach Curtis Frye said at the end of day one. “Greg (Chiles) was a 54-second kid in high school over 400 hurdles, and he’s dropped all the way to 51 in two years. Same in the 800 meter, we take a 1:56 in the 800 meters and he (Jones) runs 1:48. My hat goes off to the effort the kids put in, and they buy into the system. They were not five-stars out of high school, and they’re that close to the NCAA championship… it’s a testament to our program.”


The Gamecocks will have finals in the men’s 100 and 400m hurdles, and the women’s 400m and 400m hurdles on the track. There will also be finals for Kaleb Zuidema in the javelin, Josh Awotunde in the discus and Sarah Graham in the high jump.

Prelims will also continue tomorrow, starting out with the high hurdles for the men and women and Titi and Winters doubling up in the 200. The day starts with the javelin at noon; the track events begin at 5 p.m.

100m (Prelims)
7. David Winters 10.37 (-0.6) Q
19. Ncincilili Titi 10.51 (-0.6) q
38. DeVon Lewis 10.70 (-0.7)
400m (Prelims)
40. Ryan Bermudez 47.22
800m (Prelims)
23. Otis Jones 1:48.91
400m Hurdles (Prelims)
10. Jussi Kanervo 51.16 Q
15. Greg Chiles 51.63 Q
Hammer (Top 12 to Nationals)
18. Clarence Gallop 64.45m | 211-5
Pole Vault (Top 12 to Nationals)
t21. Simon Gyllensten 5.00m | 16-4 ¾
400m (Prelims)
5. Aliyah Abrams 52.35 Q
23. Erika Rucker 53.09 Q
29. Precious Holmes 53.54
400m Hurdles (Prelims)
9. Tyler Brockington 57.22 Q
Javelin (Top 12 to Nationals)
8. Shelby Freedman 48.72m | 159-10