Feb. 16, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. – It’s the final week of the indoor season for the University of South Carolina track & field team, and a select group of Gamecocks will make their final postseason preparations at the Tiger Tuneup, hosted by Clemson. The one-day event begins Friday at 9 a.m. ET at the Clemson University Indoor Complex.
Joining the Gamecocks in the Upstate are athletes from SEC rivals Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia as well as competitors from Alabama-Huntsville, Anderson, Benedict, Campbell, Carson-Newman, Charleston Southern, The Citadel, Claflin, College of Charleston, Georgia Tech, Johnson C. Smith, Limestone, Piedmont, Shorter and Wingate.
With the SEC Indoor Championship set to begin Feb. 24 in Nashville, the Gamecocks will send 18 student-athletes to Clemson this week: 10 on the men’s side and eight women.
QUOTING HEAD COACH Curtis Frye
“We’ve got some people going who haven’t had many races. For David Winters, this will be just his second run, and we need David to get going. We’ve got Jussi competing, just to get another run in, to get him moving in the right direction. Then we’ve got some athletes who were sick and missed some time in the regular season. Probably the biggest one of those is Josh, who missed the week in New York, and Coach Sergent wants to get him going. Rougui is going to try to hit a big long jump. Hopefully the kids that are going will feel a little bit more relaxed and can hit some of those big NCAA marks.” -on what he hopes to accomplish in the final indoor regular-season meet
LAST TIME OUT ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” FEB. 10-11 AT THE TIGER PAW INVITATIONAL
South Carolina finished with one event victory, 10 podiums and 25 top-eight finishes at the Tiger Paw Invitational, held Feb. 10-11 in Clemson, S.C. Markus Leemet earned the Gamecock victory, with his heptathlon score of 5,341 lapping the field by more than 1,100 points, while Ncincilili Titi provided another major highlight for the Gamecocks. His 200m time of 20.67 was a new PR, third-best in Carolina history and the sixth-fastest time in the NCAA this season. He finished second in the event and also set a PR of 6.76 in the 600m.
Leemet and Titi were joined on the podium by Josh Awotunde (shot put), Natasha Dicks (triple jump), Jordan Fields (pentathlon), Rougui Sow (long jump), Maddie Beaubien (600m), Ben Bonhurst (shot put), Kara Lyles (pentathlon) and Yann Randrianasolo (long jump). Awotunde and Dicks have earned top-three finishes every time they have competed this season.
Additionally, Alycia Springs (shot put), Otis Jones (800m) and Sow set new PRs and climbed the Gamecock record books at Clemson. Springs holds the 10th-best shot put mark in school history, Jones is now listed fourth in the 800m and Sow is fourth in the long jump.
FIRST TRIP TO CLEMSON ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” JAN. 14 AT THE CLEMSON INVITATIONAL
Last week’s Tiger Paw Invitational was not South Carolina’s first trip to Clemson this indoor season. South Carolina opened the campaign 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.
GAMECOCK INDIVIDUALS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
Nine individual Gamecocks and one relay quartet rank inside of the NCAA Division I Indoor Top-25 in their event after five weeks of competition.
– Ncincilili Titi’s new 200m PR of 20.67 is the sixth-best mark in the nation.
– Josh Awotunde is now seventh in the country with a shot put mark of 63-0 Â¾. That ranks best in the SEC.
– The women’s 4x400m relay quartet of Aliyah Abrams, Precious Holmes, Tyler Brockington and Briana Haith is ranked ninth in the nation with a time of 3:32.77. That time is fourth-best in the SEC.
– With a triple jump mark of 52-1, Michael Wamer is ranked 13th in the nation.
– Isaiah Moore holds the No. 15 ranking in Division I in the 60mH hurdles, at 7.80.
– Natasha Dicks posted a season-best of 42-11 at Arkansas to rank 16th nationally in the triple jump.
– Rougui Sow’s new long jump PR at the Tiger Paw Invitational ranks 16th nationally, at 20-7 Â¼.
– Tye Williams went over seven feet for the first time in his career at Vanderbilt and is now 16th in the high jump, at 7-1 Â¾.
– 2016 Olympian Aliyah Abrams ranks 21st in the 400m, at 53.39, a time she ran at the Tiger Paw Invitational.
– With her victorious 400m run at The Armory, Precious Holmes posted the nation’s 25th-best time, 53.57.
– Though he’s outside of the top-25, Eric Favors still holds the top freshman shot put mark in the nation after posting a PR of 59-7 Â½ at Arkansas.
GAMECOCKS IN THE RANKINGS
The South Carolina track & field team remains a force in the Southeast Region. The Gamecock women are ranked third in the region, and the men are listed fifth. Aliyah Abrams (400m) and the 4x400m relay team have the top regional marks on the women’s side, and Ncincilili Titi holds the top 200m mark for the men.
Nationally, the Gamecocks are ranked 35th in the men’s listings and 57th on the women’s side.
This week’s rankings are the first of the season to exclusively use 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 is due out Monday, Feb. 20.
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.
FEB. 3-4 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” GAMECOCK WOMEN WIN ARMORY INVITATIONAL
South Carolina won the women’s title at the prestigious Armory Track Invitational, held Feb. 3-4 in New York City. The Gamecocks finished with 89 points to top Ohio State’s 77 and Oklahoma’s 72. The Carolina men finished second, with 78.5 points, trailing only Ohio State’s 103.
The Gamecocks earned four individual titles in Manhattan to go with a women’s 4×400 relay victory. Natasha Dicks (triple jump), Precious Holmes (400m), Taranisha Taylor (60mH) and Ncincilili Titi (200m) each stood at the top of the podium at The Armory, while Yann Randrianasolo was the top collegiate finisher in the long jump.
The Carolina program was recognized for more than just its on-track success at The Armory. During Saturday’s festivities, head coach Curtis Frye was awarded the Louise Tricard Sportsmanship Award from the Armory Track Foundation. Long a favorite in New York City, Frye’s Gamecocks have attended the Armory Invitational for all 17 years of its existence.
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.
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.
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
South Carolina begins its quest for postseason glory next week when the Gamecocks compete in the 2017 SEC Indoor Championship. The meet funs Feb. 24-25 at the Vanderbilt Multipurpose Complex in Nashville.