Jan. 26, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of South Carolina track & field program is back on the road this weekend, when it faces a strong test at the 2017 Razorback Invitational. Ranked 19th on the men’s side and 24th among women’s programs in the latest USTFCCCA polls, the Gamecocks will tangle with 16 other ranked teams at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark.
In men’s competition, the Gamecocks will face off with No. 1 Florida, No. 3 LSU, No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 Arkansas, No. 10 Southern Cal, No. 14 Texas A&M, No. 15 Tennessee and No. 17 Oklahoma State along with unranked opponents Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss and Wake Forest.
The Carolina women will take on No. 2 Arkansas, No. 3 Georgia, No. 4 Southern Cal, No. 5 Florida, No. 7 LSU, No. 14 Oklahoma State, No. 16 Ole Miss and No. 17 Tennessee, plus unranked foes Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri, Texas A&M and Wake Forest.
With such a stacked group of teams, it’s little surprise that this weekend’s field features some of the finest individual talent in the nation. Seven reigning NCAA Indoor National Champions will compete in Fayetteville along with 14 current NCAA event leaders.
GAMECOCKS FEATURED LIVE ON SEC NETWORK
The Razorback Invitational will be carried live on SEC Network. Friday’s coverage, which streams only on SEC Network +, begins at 7 p.m. ET. On Saturday, coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET, including television coverage on SEC Network.
QUOTING HEAD COACH Curtis Frye
“This moment prepares (our student-athletes) for the next moment, and that’s why we make our schedule the way we do. Our kids are excited about this contest. It’s going to be on television for three hours, and we’re trying to make finals to get a portion of that TV time. There is motivation here, and being in that kind of contest brings a flavor and an atmosphere. It’s an atmosphere of expectations and an atmosphere that keys you up. We’ve been in some good contests lately, but I don’t think we’ve been in this kind of atmosphere yet. A full indoor arena is something exciting, especially when you have 18 nationally-ranked teams.”
LAST WEEK AT THE VANDERBILT INVITATIONAL
Three Gamecocks earned event victories and eight more earned individual podium spots as Carolina participated in the Vanderbilt Invitational, held Jan. 20-21 in Nashville, Tenn. Isaiah Moore (60mH), Ncincilili Titi (200m) and Michael Wamer (triple jump) were each victorious for the second week in a row as South Carolina got an early look at the 2017 SEC Indoor Championship venue.
Gamecocks Aliyah Abrams (400m), Josh Awotunde (shot put), Natasha Dicks (triple jump), Clarence Gallop (weight throw), Briana Haith (200m), Rougui Sow (long jump) and Tye Williams (high jump) each took a single podium finish at Vanderbilt, and Titi added a third-place result in the 60m. Also, Carolina’s 4x400m relay team placed second on the women’s side.
Awotunde finished second overall in the shot put but first among collegiate entrants. His throw of 63-0 Â¾ set a new personal best for the second straight week and ranks third in Gamecock history. Sow (20-7 Â¼ in the long jump), Wamer (52-1 in the triple jump) and Williams (7-1 Â¾ in the high jump) also set PRs, with Wamer ranking second in the Carolina record books, Williams third and Sow fourth.
Carolina will return to Vanderbilt Feb. 24-25 for the SEC Indoor Championship.
GAMECOCK INDIVIDUALS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
Eleven Gamecocks rank inside of the NCAA Division I Indoor Top-25 in their event after two weeks of competition.
â€¢ Josh Awotunde ranks third overall in the shot put. His mark of 63-0 Â¾ is also tops among SEC throwers.
â€¢ Isaiah Moore is listed sixth in the 60mH, with a mark of 7.80.
â€¢ Natasha Dicks is ninth in the country in the triple jump, with a time of 42-10 Â¾.
â€¢ Michael Wamer is now listed ninth in the triple jump after attaining a mark of 52-1 at Vanderbilt.
â€¢ Ncincilili Titi moved to ninth in the 200m, sporting a time of 20.94.
â€¢ Aliyah Abrams made her 400m season debut last week and checked in with the 10th-fastest time in the nation, at 53.46.
â€¢ Newcomer Rougui Sow made her collegiate debut at Vanderbilt and set the nation’s 10th-best long jump mark, at 20-7 Â¾.
â€¢ Tye Williams moved up to 11th this week in the high jump, holding a mark of 7-1 Â¾.
â€¢ As a team, the Gamecocks rank 14th in the women’s 4x400m relay, at 3:38.58.
â€¢ Junior newcomer Ben Bonhurst moved up to 23rd in the shot put rankings, with a throw of 59-6 Â¾
â€¢ Taranisha Taylor won the 60mH at Clemson to open the season with a time of 8.32. That remains 24th in the nation.
â€¢ Though he fell out of the top-25 this week, Eric Favors still holds the nation’s top shot put mark among freshmen, at 59-2.
GAMECOCKS MOVE UP IN USTFCCCA TOP-25
Both sets of Gamecocks stayed in the latest edition of the USTFCCCA national rankings, which were released Jan. 23. The Carolina men improved to No. 19, while the women held at No. 24. In the season’s first USTFCCCA’s Southeast Regional Rankings, the Carolina men are ranked second, and the women are fourth.
This week’s rankings utilize a composite of top marks from the 2016 season along with new personal bests achieved in 2017. Carolina took advantage of three new personal records on the men’s side to rise in the rankings, with Awotunde, Wamer and Williams achieving new bests already this season. For the Carolina women, Sow’s long jump mark is a new entry into Carolina’s rankings list. A complete breakdown of the marks used to determine this week’s rankings can be found here.
The next set of rankings, due out Monday, Jan. 30, will again use a composite of new personal records from 2017 and existing marks from last year.
GAMECOCK SUPERSTARS EXCEL IN THE CLASSROOM
Gamecock juniors Isaiah Moore and Ncincilili Titi have already achieved great success on the track this season, and that comes on the heels of outstanding academic semesters from both student-athletes. Moore and Titi each finished with a 4.0 GPA for the fall 2016 semester, anchoring a Carolina program that has long prided itself on academic excellence. Overall, the Gamecock women finished with a 3.449 GPA last semester, while the Carolina men finished at 3.140.
OPENING WEEKEND AT THE CLEMSON INVITATIONAL
South Carolina opened the season with loads of momentum after winning 10 events at the Clemson Invitational, held Jan. 14. The Gamecocks collected eight individual victories and two relays wins, tops among teams at the event.
Hailey Sweatman (pole vault), Taranisha Taylor (60mH), Isaiah Moore (60mH), Simon Gyllensten (pole vault), Tye Williams (high jump), Michael Wamer (triple jump), Josh Awotunde (shot put) and Ncincilili Titi (200m) each won an individual title at Clemson, with several Gamecocks making a mark on the program’s record book. Also, Carolina brought home a win in the women’s distance medley relay and the men’s 4x400m relay.
Four Gamecocks return to the squad in 2017 after finishing last year as NCAA Indoor All-Americans. Natasha Dicks (Triple Jump) and Briana Haith (400m) both earned the honor on the women’s side, while Ncincilili Titi (200m) and David Winters (200m) grabbed indoor laurels for the men’s squad. Both Haith and Titi were also Indoor All-Americans in 2015.
Several more Gamecock veterans have earned Indoor All-America accolades in previous seasons, including Tyler Brockington, Marisa Bellamy, Precious Holmes and Jussi Kanervo. All four are back in the fold and looking to achieve greatness again in 2017.
Last but not least, several Outdoor All-Americans return from a very successful 2016 NCAA Championships. On the women’s side, Brockington (400m Hurdles, 4x400m), Holmes (4x400m), Aliyah Abrams (400m, 4x400m), Natasha Dicks (Triple Jump) and Shelby Freedman (Javelin) were honored at outdoor nationals last season. For the men, Kanervo (400m Hurdles) and Josh Awotunde (Shot Put) grabbed outdoor laurels a season ago.
THE COACH FRYE FILE
â€¢ The 2017 season is head coach Curtis Frye’s 21st season in charge of the Gamecock program.
â€¢ One of the most well-respected coaches in the country, Frye brought South Carolina its first team NCAA championship in any sport when his women’s team captured the 2002 NCAA Outdoor Championship crown.
â€¢ In 2008, Frye was bestowed the Order of Ikkos Medallion, presented by the United States Olympic Committee.
â€¢ During his tenure, Frye has coached over 60 NCAA champions, 117 SEC champions, 15 Academic All-Americans and more than 460 NCAA All-Americans.
â€¢ Following the 2016 collegiate season, Frye served as an assistant coach for the United States national team at the 2016 Rio Olympics. With Frye as one of their leaders, Team USA earned 32 track & field medals in Rio, including 13 gold medals.
â€¢ Frye is a three-time SEC Coach of the Year with the honor coinciding with his three women’s outdoor conference championships in 1999, 2002 and 2005.
MEET THE COACHES
â€¢ Delethea Quarles is in her 20th year with the South Carolina program and her 27th year as a collegiate coach entering the 2017 season. Promoted to assistant head coach in 2005, her primary responsibilities include coaching the multi-event performers and jumps. Quarles has extensive international experience, none more impressive than her 2015 post as the head women’s coach for Team USA at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.
â€¢ Kevin Brown enters the eighth year of his second stint with the Gamecocks in the 2017 season. His primary responsibility is working with the pole vaulters in addition to working with South Carolina’s well-respected relay teams and sprinters. Brown is also the program’s recruiting coordinator. In the summer of 2016, Brown served on the Team USA coaching staff at the NACAC U23 Championships in El Salvador.
â€¢ Mike Sergent enters his 20th season with the Gamecock track and field program in 2017. His primary responsibilities are coaching the throwers and coordinating the strength and conditioning program. Sergent has coached 28 All-Americans, 45 NCAA qualifiers, 14 SEC champions and five NCAA champions at South Carolina.
â€¢ A 30-year veteran of distance coaching, Andrew Allden serves as the assistant track coach for distance and cross country. Allden has extensive international experience; in 2004, he served as a men’s assistant coach for distance in the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Hungary. He was the practice track director for distance at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and spent the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons with the USOC as an endurance team coach.
â€¢ Hadrien Choukroun joined the full-time staff as an assistant coach for sprints and hurdles for the 2016 season and enters his second full-time year in 2017. Choukroun has been with the program since 2013, and spent 2015 as a graduate assistant. In his time with the program, Carolina has crowned 24 All-Americans (13 men, 11 women) in the sprint and hurdle events.
HASTINGS’ GOLD HIGHLIGHTS CAROLINA’S IMPACT AT RIO OLYMPICS
Five members of the South Carolina track & field program represented the Gamecocks and their native countries at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Leading the charge was Natasha Hastings, who won her second Olympic gold medal as part of the 4x400m relay. Hastings ran the second leg of the 4×400 final, with the United States posting a time of 3:19.06 to narrowly defeat Jamaica’s 3:20.34. The Olympic medal was the 14th earned by a Gamecock in the program’s track & field history. Hastings nearly won an individual medal, finishing fourth in the 400m dash.
Head coach Curtis Frye served as an assistant coach for Team USA, helping the Americans earn 32 medals in Rio, including 13 gold medals. Three other Gamecocks competed in Rio: current student-athlete Aliyah Abrams (Guyana) placed 38th in the 400m dash, graduate assistant Jeannelle Scheper (Saint Lucia) finished 25th in the high jump and alumna Kierre Beckles (Barbados) came in 24th in the 100m hurdles.
GAMECOCKS TO HOST SEC OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIP
South Carolina is proud to host the 2017 SEC Outdoor Championship at the brand new Morris and Sheila Cregger Track. The event runs May 11-13, and tickets go on sale soon. In addition to hosting the meet, the Gamecocks will hold several alumni events throughout the week. Gamecock alumni wishing to participate should contact associate head coach Delethea Quarles at DQUARLES@mailbox.sc.edu or (803) 777-1617.
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
Carolina hits one of the highlights of the indoor season when they travel to the Armory Collegiate Invitational. The event runs Feb. 3-4 at The Armory in New York City.