Gamecocks Reflect on Successful 2015-16 Season at Awards Banquet
Nov. 11, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of South Carolina track & field team recently celebrated a highly successful 2015-16 season with their annual awards banquet, held downtown at the Hilton Columbia Center.
Prior to handing out awards, the Gamecocks were treated to a keynote address from alumna Faraign (Giles) Smith. A member of the Gamecock track & field program from 2005-08, Smith was a six-time All-America honoree, earning the accolades in 2006, 2007 and 2008. She was also a Dean’s List student and a member of the Athletic Department Honor Roll, and she helped the 2005 Gamecock women’s squad finish as the USTFCCCA National Champion Academic Team.
Smith graduated from Carolina with a B.S. in criminal justice and now serves as a deputy with the Richland County Sherriff’s Department. Still involved with the sport she loves, Smith also serves as the women’s head coach for the track & field program at Richland Northeast High School.
Legendary Gamecock Natasha Hastings was also in attendance and spoke to the Gamecocks about her journey throughout the international track & field circuit. A three-time NCAA national champion and 10-time All-American as a collegian, Hastings represented the United States at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, earning a gold medal as part of the 4x400m relay team. It was her second gold medal, joining her other one at the 2008 Beijing Games, and she is also a three-time World Championships gold medalist.
Hastings was one of four Gamecocks to compete at the Rio Games. Joining her as 2016 Olympians were Aliyah Abrams (Guyana, 400m dash), Kierre Beckles (Barbados, 100m hurdles) and Jeannelle Scheper (St. Lucia, high jump). Also, head coach Curtis Frye served as an assistant with Team USA, helping American track athletes win 13 gold medals, as well as associate head coach Delete Quarrels, who worked as Scheper’s personal coach during her Rio journey.
South Carolina honored its academic standouts, including USTFCCCA All-Academic honorees Alexandre Asselin, Ryan Bermudez, Markus Leemet, Kaleb Zuidema, Erika Rucker, Sarah Graham, Shelby Freedman, Ahtyana Johnson, Maya Evans, Aliyah Abrams and Funlayo Oluwole. Both the men’s and women’s programs were recognized as USTFCCCA All-Academic teams, and Rucker was honored as a Capital One Academic All-American.
Carolina honored 21 student-athletes as Iron Gamecocks: Tyler Brockington, Sarah Graham, Nakita Gray, Morgan Hubbard, Christine Kent, Kara Lyles. Funlayo Oluwole, Amy Suttmeier, Kierstin Williams, Alexandre Asselin, Josh Awotunde, Ryan Bermudez, Greg Chiles, Eric Favors, Clarence Gallop, Andrew Galang, Otis Jones, Jordan Raper, Michael Wamer, Tye Williams and Kaleb Zuidema. Gray was recognized for her SEC Indoor Championship in the high jump, while Abrams, Awotunde, Brockington, Freedman, Gray, Johnson, Rucker, Zuidema, Jermaine Collier, Natasha Dicks, Dondre Echols, Briana Haith, Precious Holmes, Jussi Kanervo, DeVon Lewis, Taranisha Taylor, Ncincilili Titi and David Winters were honored for finishing the season as NCAA All-Americans.
The Gamecocks capped the evening with several special awards. Included in the laurels were Track MVPs Aliyah Abrams and Dondre Echols, Field MVPs Natasha Dicks and Josh Awotunde and Horse Award winners Tyler Brockington and Echols. Monica York was the recipient of the Deronda Powell Award and Clarence Gallop won the James Bouknight Award. Nakita Gray was honored with the Top Performance Award, and the Outstanding Performance of the Year went to Natasha Dicks. Maya Evans and Kaleb Zuidema were honored with the Humanitarian Award for their community service efforts, and Sportsmanship honors went to Gabby Gray and Jermaine Collier. A full list of individual awards can be found on the sidebar to the right.
South Carolina will open the 2017 indoor season in January, with the outdoor season slated to begin in March. This will be the first season for the Gamecocks to compete at the brand-new, state-of-the-art Cregger Track, and Carolina will host the SEC Outdoor Championship in May.