Feb. 23, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The postseason has arrived for the University of South Carolina track & field team, as the Gamecocks will take part in the 2017 SEC Indoor Championships. Conference titles will be on the line Feb. 24-25 at the Vanderbilt Multipurpose Facility in Nashville, Tenn.
The SEC Indoor Championships feature all 14 SEC programs under one roof as the nation’s premier conference converges for the first time this season. Nine nationally-ranked women’s programs will be in Nashville, including No. 2 Georgia, No. 3 Arkansas and No. 5 LSU. On the men’s side, top-ranked Florida headlines a group of seven top-25 squads.
WATCH THE GAMECOCKS LIVE ON SEC NETWORK+
SEC Network+ features nearly 10 hours of live coverage from Vanderbilt this weekend. SEC Network subscribers can watch live action Friday from 5:25-10:30 p.m. ET and Saturday from 2:55-7:45 p.m. ET. | WATCH LIVE FRIDAY | WATCH LIVE SATURDAY
QUOTING HEAD COACH Curtis Frye
“Our biggest message is to be the best that you can be. You can’t exceed your preparation, your training and your gift. Just be you, and we will be okay. This conference is the toughest conference in the country, and you can’t fool our kids. They know what their times are. We’ve had a great indoor season. What we need is to make sure we do what we do, and let the chips fall where they may. When we try to do more, that’s when we get in trouble, so we need to keep our kids from getting too excited.” – on the message he gives his team before the SEC Indoor Championships
GAMECOCK HISTORY AT THE SEC INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
South Carolina has produced 23 SEC Indoor titles on the men’s side and 22 women’s championships since joining the league for the 1992 postseason. The best team performance by the men’s team came in 1999, when Curtis Frye’s team finished second. The Gamecock men added a third-place effort in 2003 and fourth-place results in 2009 and 2010. The Gamecock women placed second in 2003 and have finished third four separate times.
An illustrious group of Gamecocks have earned the title of SEC Indoor Champion during their collegiate careers. The first SEC champion in program history came in 1993, when Ron Willis captured the first of his two weight throw titles. Olympian Terrance Trammell was a five-time champion across four different events from 1998-2000, and Brad Snyder won the shot put four consecutive years from 1996-99.
Carolina’s first SEC Indoor women’s titles came in 1996, when Crystal Brownlee won the shot put and Dawn Ellerbe captured the weight throw. Both Gamecocks ended their collegiate careers as two-time SEC indoor medalists, as did Carolina alum Lakya Brookins. Demetria Washington holds the program record with five indoor SEC crowns, while Miki Barber won three.
The Gamecock women snapped a four-year drought at the SEC Indoor Championships when Nakita Gray won the high jump last season. For the men, the last SEC indoor gold came in 2010, when Elliott Haynie won the pole vault.
LAST SEASON AT THE SEC INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
South Carolina finished ninth in the men’s competition and 11th on the women’s side last season at the SEC Indoor Championships, held in Fayetteville, Ark.
On the men’s side, the Gamecocks tallied 11 scoring performances in Fayetteville, with Josh Awotunde leading the way. Awotunde finished second in the shot put and is joined by a host of returning Gamecocks who scored at the meet last season. Isaiah Moore (4th, 60mH), David Winters (5th, 60m and 200m), Michael Wamer (7th, long jump), Tye Williams (7th, high jump), Ncincilili Titi (8th, 200m) and Simon Gyllensten (t-8th, pole vault) all scored last season.
Gary’s championship headlined the women’s performances in 2016. Natasha Dicks (4th, triple jump) was also on point, while Briana Haith (3rd) and Aliyah Abrams (5th) each scored in the 400m and the 4x400m relay team placed sixth.
LAST TIME OUT — FEB. 17 AT THE TIGER TUNEUP
The Gamecocks sent a select group to compete at the Tiger Tuneup on Friday, Feb. 17, with the majority of the squad staying back to rest up for the conference championships. Still, the Gamecocks had plenty of success, with three event victories and 10 of the 15 Gamecocks in action finishing on the podium.
Natasha Dicks (triple jump), Rougui Sow (long jump) and Alycia Springs each won their event at Clemson. Dicks hit a season-best and moved to 14th in the NCAA this season with a mark of 43-5 Â¼, while Sow set a PR, moved to third in the Gamecock record books and improved to 10th in the nation with a jump of 20-11 Â¼.
Freshman Hailey Sweatman also set a PR at the Tiger Tuneup, with a pole vault mark of 12-9 Â½. That ranks eighth in Carolina history. Last but not least, senior Tyler Brockington set a personal best of 23.60 in the 200m.
LAST TIME AT VANDERBILT — JAN. 20-21 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 Championships 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. 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 and Williams third.
GAMECOCK INDIVIDUALS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
Eight individual Gamecocks and one relay quartet rank inside of the NCAA Division I Indoor Top-25 in their event after six weeks of competition.
â€¢ Titi’s 200m time of 20.67 is the seventh-best mark in the nation.
â€¢ Josh Awotunde is now eighth in the country with a shot put mark of 63-0 Â¾. That ranks best in the SEC.
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ Rougui Sow set a new long jump PR for the second straight week at the Tiger Tuneup. Her current mark of 20-11 Â¼ is 10th-best in the nation.
â€¢ With a triple jump mark of 52-1, Michael Wamer is ranked 13th in the nation.
â€¢ Natasha Dicks posted a season-best of 43-5 Â¼ at the Tiger Tuneup to rank 14th nationally in the triple jump.
â€¢ Isaiah Moore holds the No. 16 ranking in Division I in the 60mH hurdles, at 7.80.
â€¢ Tye Williams went over seven feet for the first time in his career at Vanderbilt and is now 17th in the high jump, at 7-1 Â¾.
â€¢ 2016 Olympian Aliyah Abrams ranks 22nd in the 400m, at 53.39, a time she ran at the Tiger Paw Invitational.
â€¢ 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 fourth 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 36th in the men’s listings and 48th on the women’s side, up nine spots from last week.
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. 27.
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 — 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.
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 Sheila and Morris Cregger Track. The event runs May 11-13, and tickets go on sale soon. In addition to hosting the meet, the Gamecocks will hold an Alumni Reception on Saturday, May 13 at 1 pm. Gamecock alumni wishing to participate should register now or contact associate head coach Delethea Quarles at DQUARLES@mailbox.sc.edu or (803) 777-1617 for more information.
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
The Gamecocks take next week off to prepare for the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships, to be held March 10-11 in College Station, Texas.