June 11, 2016
EUGENE, Ore. – The South Carolina women’s track and field team scored big on the final day of the NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field. Two first-team All-American performances earned the Gamecocks a top 25 finish for the second-straight season, the first time they have accomplished that feat since 2007-08.
“I’m so proud of those young ladies, they stuck in there and left that statement: Carolina’s ready to play,” head coach Curtis Frye said after the meet. “Good to have our new home facility next year, get to have our depth and our strategy is to get our 4×1, 4×4, intermediate hurdles and the 400m girls here and give them a shot at getting into the top five. It’s an exciting time, I’m thrilled to death about it because instead of me talking about it, now they can believe it because they tasted it.”
Natasha Dicks led things off on Saturday with her triple jump competition. The junior faced early pressure in the event after fouling on her first two attempts. She would need to crack the 43-foot mark on her final attempt to make the top nine and advance on to the final round of jumps.
After all she had accomplished during the 2016 season, Dicks was not ready to go quietly. She would reach out for a mark of 43-5 Â¾ on her third attempt, pushing her all the way up to sixth in the field of 24 and earning her three more jumps.
Her first jump of the finals would be an improvement to 43-9 Â¼ moving her back into sixth place. A foul on her fifth attempt gave her one more shot to move up, but on her final jump she improved by just a half inch to remain in sixth.
Though she was disappointed with her result afterwards, Dicks is just the second outdoor All-American ever in the triple jump for the Gamecocks, the first since Antoinette Wilks in 2002. She is also the first Gamecock to ever earn All-American honors indoor and outdoor overall, let alone in the same year.
“I don’t know what it was today, but my engine was just not starting. I was just trying to keep the energy going and keep pushing through my run,” Dicks said. “The environment was probably the biggest difference for me. Out here on the west coast, it’s totally different, and as far as the fans, they are in it, they are totally into it.”
Her event coach, Assistant Head Coach Delethea Quarles, saw Dicks’ performance as a positive sign, as she handled the pressure of the crowd and the moment and still scored for the team.
“It showed great maturity on Natasha’s part to come back and still pull off jumping over 13 meters to get into finals, which we’re pretty happy about,” Quarles said. “Looking back on it all now and realizing this is her first time at the outdoor championships, I’m just proud of her, she found a way to execute… it was outstanding on her part, just very happy to bring that hardware home.”
Closing out the meet was the women’s mile relay. The foursome of Aliyah Abrams, Erika Rucker, Tyler Brockington and Precious Holmes earned silver at the conference and regional meets, and had their sights set high for nationals. The team was in the mix from start to finish, and took third overall to score big for the team. It was the best finish in the mile relay since 2008 for Carolina.
“This is the best way I could’ve pictured my last year going,” Rucker said after her final race as a Gamecock. “I was really questioning coming back earlier in the season, but having a team like this to be surrounded by — awesome coaches, awesome staff — I’m really glad I came back.”
Attendance for Saturday was 12,947, the third highest single-day attendance total in NCAA Championship history. Arkansas won the overall team championship, followed by Oregon and Georgia.
Individuals will continue to race on through the summer, with many chasing Olympic bids for their respective nations. Be sure to follow @GamecockTrack on Twitter for all the latest news on the team.
|JUNE 11, 2016 â€¢ NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS â€¢ WOMEN’S RESULTS â€¢|
|4x400m Relay (Final)|
|3. Abrams, Rucker, Brockington, Holmes||3:29.03|
|Triple Jump (Final)|
|6. Natasha Dicks||13.35m | 43-9 Â¾|