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May 29, 2016

Complete Results

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – School records fell, personal battles were won, and eight more national bids were claimed Saturday night as the NCAA East Regional came to a close. The South Carolina track and field team will head west in two weeks on a high note after a dominating day across all disciplines.

In keeping with the tradition set over the first two days of the meet, the Gamecocks rolled through its first event of the day with more national bids. The men’s and women’s 4x100m relay teams both earned automatic berths after finishing top three in their respective heat. It was a memorable finish for the women, who will send seniors Gabby Gray, Tyler Brockington and Ahtyana Johnson to nationals in their final season with the team. Joining them in the race was junior Taranisha Taylor, who will make her first trip to nationals.

The men’s 4×1 team will head to nationals for the third-straight season after placing eighth overall Saturday. The team of David Winters, Dondre Echols, Ncincilili Titi and DeVon Lewis ran a time of 39.63 and finished third overall in their heat to spare themselves the drama of waiting on an at-large time.

The individual track events kicked off for Carolina with the running of the men’s 110m hurdles. Running side-by-side in heat two was Dondre Echols and Isaiah Moore. Echols enjoyed a dose of redemption after missing last year’s regional with an injury, as the senior went out and ran a time of 13.35 (2.1) to earn the crown as regional champion. Not only was it the second-fastest time in all of college track, but it put him third in the world among wind-assisted times and shattered his personal record.

“I’m just really excited, I’ve been here for three years and I missed it by one spot freshman year, one spot sophomore year, then I had a crazy injury right before prelims my junior year,” Echols said. “My goal was just to get through and focus on myself and I did that.”

His teammate Moore would tumble at the midway point of the race and did not finish. As someone who had fought through his fair share of bad luck in his career, Dondre had a message for his teammate.

“My main message was to keep his head up, he was pretty down, so I just told him to stay positive,” Dondre said. “I’ve been through it for my first three years, I always got here and something happened. It made me stronger mentally, so it’s just a learning experience and I would think that it’ll help him out a lot.”

The next heat of the event featured fellow senior Jermaine Collier, who also broke through when it mattered most. After a spring spent trying to get back to 100 percent health, Jermaine reeled off a new personal best of 13.61 (3.0) to earn his first trip to Eugene in the event.

“It’s been a long time coming, a lot of injuries have been happening this year, so it was good to get a PR,” Collier said. “I’ve been through a lot this year and I just stayed strong, I had good coaching, good trainers to help me through it, good teammates to keep things positive for me, and I pulled through.”

Closing out the night in the individual track events was the 200m, with Ncincilili Titi needing to break out after finishing 16th in the preliminary. He would do that and more, running a personal best of 20.55 (3.6) to qualify for nationals in 11th place. The sophomore moved up sixth in school history with the wind-aided time, but knows now that he’s ready to step it up again on his next time out.

“It’s a good feeling, I was 16th yesterday so I knew I had to dig deep and try to knock out some guys,” Titi said. “Fortunately for me I was in a fast heat today and I was able to pull it through. All I needed to do was qualify, and I feel like I can do a lot better in Eugene.”

The storylines out in the field events were equally compelling entering the day, and both athletes would deliver. Grabbing the spotlight again in the triple jump was Natasha Dicks, who qualified fourth overall in the region with another quality competition. The junior opened the first of her three jumps with a mark of 44-7 ½, her second-straight competition with a new personal best. The distance also set a new school record, as she had matched Rodena Barr’s record of 44-2 at the SEC Championship, and puts her in the top 20 in the world for wind-assisted marks.

“It (the record) means a lot, and if anything it just lets me know that there’s no limit, I’m just going to keep on going and keep on working at it,” she said of her record-setting performance. “I’m just going to set it so no one’s breaking it for years!”

She will now attempt to make the podium outdoors after a bronze medal at the NCAA Indoor meet — and her eyes are set squarely on Hayward Field.

“Outdoor is where it’s at,” Dicks said. “Track and field is an outdoor sport, this is the official, top-notch track meet, this is what I wanted the whole time. I’m super excited.”

Earlier in the afternoon, Josh Awotunde earned a little redemption along with his ticket to Eugene. The sophomore finished ninth overall in the shot put, just over 24 hours removed from finishing one spot out of qualifying in the discus final. After missing almost the entire outdoor season due to injury, Awotunde’s focus was not on his missed opportunity, but instead on his success.

“It feels kind of surreal to me,” Awotunde said. “To know I qualified for Eugene, I’m going to be able to compete with the best people in the country, it’s a surreal feeling. I’m very excited to go out there and hopefully I can get a lot stronger in these next few weeks and try to contend for a national title.”

Closing the meet was the women’s mile relay. The Gamecocks entered the meet on a high note after winning silver at the SEC Championship, but saved a special performance for regionals. The team of Aliyah Abrams, Erika Rucker, Tyler Brockington and Precious Holmes finished second overall in the field of 24, with a time of 3:28.53 that ranks seventh in school history. It was the fastest time in the event for the program since 2007.


The Gamecocks will have a week of practice ahead of them before traveling west to Oregon for the NCAA National Championship. Hosted at Hayward Field, the meet will run June 8-11.

“Our goals at NCAAs is to find a way to get 15 points, and if we get 15 points on both sides then we will have a great meet,” head coach Curtis Frye said, looking ahead to the team’s next competition. “It’s going to take a lot for us to get 15 points at the NCAAs, so that we can get ourselves into the top 25 on both sides.”

200m (Top 12 to Nationals)
11. Ncincilili Titi 20.55 (3.6)
4x100m Relay (Final)
8. Winters, Echols, Titi, Lewis 39.63
110m Hurdles (Top 12 to Nationals)
1. Dondre Echols 13:35 (2.1)
10. Jermaine Collier 13.61 (3.0)
–. Isaiah Moore DNF
Shot Put (Top 12 to Nationals)
9. Josh Awotunde 18.67m | 61-3
4x100m Relay (Final)
14. Gray, Brockington, Taylor, Johnson 44.80
4x400m Relay (Final)
2. Abrams, Rucker, Brockington, Holmes 3:28.53
Triple Jump (Top 12 to Nationals)
4. Natasha Dicks 13.60m | 44-7 ½ (2.1)