Feb. 2, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of South Carolina track & field program heads to the Big Apple this weekend to take part in another one of the nation’s finest meets: the Armory Track Invitational Presented by United States Marine Corps. Action starts at noon ET on Friday and 9:30 a.m. ET on Saturday at the famed Armory Track Center in New York City.
Carolina joins a large and eclectic group of collegiate teams at this week’s meet. Alongside the Gamecocks are American, Arizona, Binghamton, Bronx CC, Brown, Cal State Northridge, Colgate, Columbia, Coppin State, Cortland State, Delaware State, Duke, Essex CC, Farmingdale Sate, Farleigh Dickinson, Findlay, FIU, Hampton, Howard, Houston, Iona, Johns Hopkins, Lafayette, Lehigh, LIU Brooklyn, Maine, Maryland, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Millersville, Morgan State, New Jersey City, New Hampshire, NYU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Princeton, Rhodes, Richmond, Rider, RPI, Rutgers, Sacred Heart, Southern Connecticut, St. Francis, St. John’s, St. Peter’s, Stevens Institute, SUNY-Geneseo, Syracuse, Temple, Texas, Tiffin, Toronto, Towson, Tulane, UMass, VCU, Vermont, Wagner, Wheaton, Windsor, Wisconsin, Youngstown State.
The Gamecocks are looking for another strong weekend of indoor competition against premier opposition after a great showing last week at the Razorback Invitational. Carolina’s men are ranked 24th in the latest USTFCCCA poll and will be joined by No. 7 Syracuse, No. 16 Texas, No. 22 Oklahoma and No. 25 Houston. On the women’s side, Carolina stands just outside the top-25 in the latest USTFCCCA national poll, with No. 6 Texas the only ranked team in the Armory field.
CATCH THE GAMECOCKS ON NBCSN
NBCSN will televise two hours of Saturday’s competition beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET. Be sure to tune in to see your favorite Gamecocks on national television for a second consecutive week. In addition, a live stream will be available all weekend long at armorytrack.com.
QUOTING HEAD COACH Curtis Frye
“This is another scored meet. We finished in the top-three at this meet last year, so we’re trying to go there to do that again and give our kids a new approach and a new venue. Also, we want to give all of our kids a chance to experience New York City. New York City is a wonderful place to experience. Kids who have never been there and kids who’ve been there before ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” it’s still refreshing. Our kids don’t have an opportunity to get spring break during the year. We’ve got a very good academic group of kids, and they deserve some opportunities to have a break.”
LAST TIME OUT ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” GAMECOCKS FINISH RAZORBACK INVITATIONAL WITH TOP-10 RESULTS
In its first scored meet of the season, South Carolina performed well at the Razorback Invitational, held Jan. 27-28 in Fayetteville, Ark. In the competition featuring 18 ranked programs, the Gamecocks finished ninth on the men’s side with 34 points and ninth in the women’s tally as well, with 28 points.
On Friday night, the first of two days in Fayetteville, several Gamecocks stood tall against one of the toughest fields in the sport. Ncincilili Titi (200m), Rougui Sow (long jump), Yann Randrianasolo (long jump) and Tye Williams (high jump) each turned in a scoring performance for Carolina at the Randal Tyson Track Center. For Titi, his time of 20.78 was a new PR and the third-fastest time in Carolina history, while Randrianasolo, in his Gamecock debut, achieved the sixth-best mark in program history at 24-3 Â¾.
The effort remained high on Saturday, with Josh Awotunde (shot put), Natasha Dicks (triple jump), Isaiah Moore (60mH) and the women’s 4x400m relay team finishing on the podium. Additionally, Aliyah Abrams (400m), Eric Favors (shot put), Precious Holmes (400m), Markus Leemet (heptathlon), Taranisha Taylor (60mH) and Michael Wamer (triple jump) earned top-eight finishes for Carolina. The 4×4 relay squad ran the nation’s fourth-fastest time in Fayetteville, a mark of 3:32.77 that trailed only national leader Southern Cal at the meet.
GAMECOCK INDIVIDUALS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
Ten Gamecocks rank inside of the NCAA Division I Indoor Top-25 in their event after two weeks of competition.
– The women’s 4x400m relay quartet of Aliyah Abrams, Precious Holmes, Tyler Brockington and Briana Haith is ranked fourth in the nation with a time of 3:32.77.
– Josh Awotunde is now sixth in the country with a shot put mark of 63-0 Â¾. That still ranks best in the SEC.
– With his PR time of 20.78 from Arkansas, Ncincilili Titi is listed sixth in the nation in the 200m.
– Isaiah Moore is now ranked 10th in Division I in the 60mH hurdles, at 7.80.
– With a triple jump mark of 52-1, Michael Wamer is ranked 11th in the nation.
– Natasha Dicks posted a season-best of 42-11 at Arkansas to rank 12th nationally in the triple jump.
– Newcomer Rougui Sow is ranked 12th in the country with a long jump effort of 20-7 Â¼.
– 2016 Olympian Aliyah Abrams ranks 13th in the 400m, at 53.46.
– Tye Williams went over seven feet for the first time in his career at Vanderbilt and is now 13th in the high jump, at 7-1 Â¾.
– Markus Leemet finished his first heptathlon of the season at Arkansas. His score of 5,274 is 25th in the country.
– Eric Favors still holds the top freshman mark in the nation after posting a PR of 59-7 Â½ in the shot put at Arkansas.
LAST SEASON AT THE ARMORY TRACK INVITATIONAL
South Carolina claimed second place in the men’s standings and third on the women’s side last season at the Armory Track Invitational. The Carolina women’s 4×4 relay was victorious in New York City, as was David Winters in the 60m.
Several returning Gamecocks achieved podium finishes last season in the Big Apple, including Aliyah Abrams (400m), Josh Awotunde (shot put), Maiya Dendy (200m), Natasha Dicks (triple jump), Otis Jones (500m), Ncincilili Titi (200m) and Tye Williams (high jump). Also, the Carolina men finished second in the 4×200 relay and third in the 4×400.
GAMECOCK MEN RANKED 24th IN THE NATION
Carolina’s men are ranked 24th in the latest USTFCCCA national poll, while the women sit just outside the top-25, at 28th. In the Southeast Region, the Gamecocks are listed second on the men’s side and third among women’s teams.
This week’s rankings utilize a composite of top marks from the 2016 season along with new personal bests achieved in 2017. 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, Feb. 6, will be the last one to 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.
THREE EARN VICTORIES AT THE VANDERBILT INVITATIONAL
Three Gamecocks collected 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.
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
– The 2017 season is head coach Curtis Frye’s 21st season in charge of the Gamecock program.
– 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.
– In 2008, Frye was bestowed the Order of Ikkos Medallion, presented by the United States Olympic Committee.
– During his tenure, Frye has coached over 60 NCAA champions, 117 SEC champions, 15 Academic All-Americans and more than 460 NCAA All-Americans.
– 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.
– 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
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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
The Gamecocks are back in the Palmetto State next weekend to take part in the Tiger Paw Invitational. The meet runs Feb. 10-11 in Clemson, S.C.