Carolina welcomes the SEC's finest track & field athletes to campus for the first time since 2001
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of South Carolina track & field program reaches a milestone weekend as it hosts the 2017 SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The meet runs Thursday-Saturday, May 11-13, at Sheila & Morris Cregger Track on the Carolina campus.
Action begins at 10:15 a.m. ET on Thursday and 11 a.m. ET both Friday and Saturday. Fans planning to follow the SEC Championships, either in-person at Cregger Track or from afar, should visit Carolina’s Championship Central page for live results, meet schedules and more. Tickets are still available here, with all-session passes just $25 for adults and $10 for youth 18 and under.
This is the first time since 2001 that the Gamecocks have hosted the SEC Outdoor Championships. Joining Carolina this week are conference rivals from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
WATCH THE GAMECOCKS LIVE ON SEC NETWORK+
SEC Network+ will stream live coverage from Cregger Track on both Friday and Saturday. SEC Network subscribers can view the stream beginning at 6:25 p.m. ET Friday and 3:10 p.m. ET Saturday. Also, highlights from the meet will run on ESPNU on Wednesday, May 17 from 8-10 p.m. ET.
QUOTING HEAD COACH Curtis Frye
“I am thrilled. We’ve been waiting for almost 17 years (to host this event). It’s been awhile since we have had the SEC Championships here, and we’re prepared for it with all of the great help we’ve been getting around campus — administrative help and media help. I think we’re going to have a great crowd.”
“Our kids are at an all-time high. They’ve had some personal bests out here this season — we’ve had 33 times that were personal bests for our kids on this track during the regular season. We’re going to give it our best shot.”
LAST SEASON AT THE SEC OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Gamecocks finished 11th on the men’s side and 13th on the women’s side last season at the SEC Outdoor Championships, hosted by Alabama. Among current Gamecocks, Josh Awotunde led the men’s squad, finishing fourth in the shot put and eighth in the discus. Jussi Kanervo took fifth in the 400mH, Simon Gyllensten placed eighth in the pole vault, and Isaiah Moore came in eighth in the 110mH to score individually. Also, DeVon Lewis, Ncincilili Titi and David Winters were on the 4x100m squad that placed seventh, while Kanervo, Ryan Bermudez and Otis Jones helped the 4×4 relay place eighth.
The women’s side had their best finish in the 4x400m relay, where Aliyah Abrams, Tyler Brockington and Precious Holmes were part of a group that finished second. Natasha Dicks checked in third in the triple jump, and Abrams placed fourth individually in the 400m. Shelby Freedman came in sixth in the javelin, Brockington tallied seventh in the 400mH, and the 4×1 relay squad including Brockington and Makyla Stanley crossed the line eighth.
CAROLINA’S HISTORY AT THE SEC OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
Carolina’s women are three-time SEC outdoor champions. They captured the overall title in 1999, 2002 and 2005. The best finish on the men’s side for Carolina came in 2010, when the team placed third.
Overall, the Gamecocks have combined for 46 individual and relay SEC outdoor titles on the women’s side and 26 more on the men’s side. Miki Barber leads all Gamecocks, men and women, with eight career SEC outdoor crowns, including three victories in the 400m dash. Natasha Hastings was part of six SEC wins, while Lisa Barber, Tiffany Ross and Shalonda Solomon accumulated five outdoor conference titles each.
For the men, Otukile Lekote and Brad Snyder each won four SEC titles in their careers, with Johnny Dutch, Otis Harris, Jason Richardson and Terrence Trammell each topping the podium three times. Trammell won the 110mH each season from 1998-2000, while Snyder was the shot put champion in 1996, 1998 and 1999.
Carolina’s most recent individual SEC title came in 2015, when current graduate assistant Jeannelle Scheper won the women’s high jump.
2001 — THE LAST SEC CHAMPIONSHIPS AT CAROLINA
South Carolina last hosted the SEC Outdoor Championships in 2001 at the old Weems Baskin Track. Carolina’s women placed third, and the men came in eighth. Arkansas won the event on the women’s side, with Tennessee taking the men’s crown.
The Gamecock women won four individual titles at the 2001 meet. Miki Barber captured her third consecutive 400m dash conference championship, and she led both the 4x100m and 4x400m relays to victory. Also, Tacita Bass was the SEC medalist in the 400mH.
Two Gamecock men stood at the top of the podium in 2001: Otukile Lekote (800m) and Chris Steddum (pole vault).
LAST TIME OUT — APRIL 27-29 — SEVEN VICTORIES HIGHLIGHT CAROLINA’S PENN RELAYS TRIP
South Carolina had a huge weekend at the Penn Relays, held April 27-29 in Philadelphia, including the team’s 21st Wagon Wheel. The Gamecocks won the women’s 4x200m relay, with the quartet of Precious Holmes, Tyler Brockington, Aalayah Sanders and Maiya Dendy grabbing the title with a time of 1:33.79
Carolina also won six individual titles at the Penn Relays. Leading the way was Tye Williams, who broke Carolina’s 29-year-old high jump record with a mark of 7-4 Â½ (VIDEO). It vaults the junior up to second on the NCAA list this season.
Other champions from Penn include Clarence Gallop, who was the hammer throw winner with a mark of 220-11. That’s the second-best mark in Carolina history and ranks 20th nationally. In the pole vault, Armand Woodley set a PR for the third week in a row and was victorious with a mark of 16-6 3/4. Josh Awotunde took the shot put; his top effort of 65-6 was his best ever in a collegiate competition and ranks sixth nationally. Yann Randrianasolo set a long jump PR and won his event on the men’s side. The mark of 25-5 1/2 is 18th in the NCAA. Last but not least, Rougui Sow was the women’s long jump champion at 20-8 1/2.
GAMECOCKS RISE IN USTFCCCA NATIONAL POLLS
Both Carolina sides are ranked in the USTFCCCA national top-25 heading into the SEC Championships. The Gamecock men occupy the 19th position, while the women are ranked 25th.
This week’s poll exclusively uses data from the 2017 outdoor season. A complete listing of the marks used to determine this week’s poll can be found here.
GAMECOCK INDIVIDUALS IN THE NCAA EAST REGION RANKINGS
South Carolina features 12 individuals and three relays in the NCAA East Region top-20 through four weeks of outdoor competition. The Gamecocks also have six marks in the national top-10.
Ncincilili Titi holds the current national watermark in the 200m, with his 20.14 from the Gamecock Invitational. He also ranks 14th regionally in the 100m at 10.21.
Tye Williams is listed second both regionally and nationally with his high jump effort of 7-4 Â½ from the Penn Relays.
In the long jump, Rougui Sow’s effort of 22-0 Â¾ from the Spec Towns Invitational led the entire world for three weeks. It is now listed third, both regionally and nationally.
Josh Awotunde’s shot put effort of 65-6 ranks fourth in the region and sixth in the NCAA. The junior is also listed 13th in the East with a discus mark of 191-11.
Tyler Brockington is ranked fourth in the East in the 400mH, at 56.35. That time is seventh-best in the NCAA.
Three-time All-American Natasha Dicks has the region’s fifth-best triple jump mark, at 43-9. That puts her 10th nationally.
Nakita Gray, the 2016 SEC indoor high jump champion, is listed sixth in the region with a mark of 5-11 Â½.
Isaiah Moore occupies the seventh position regionally in the 110mH stopping the clock in 13.73.
Carolina’s 4x100m quartet of DeVon Lewis, David Winters, Ryan Bermudez and Titi is ranked seventh regionally, at 39.37.
Markus Leemet scored 7,382 points in his lone decathlon of the season so far, ranking eighth in the East.
Yann Randrianasolo is currently 10th in the region with a long jump effort of 25-5 Â½.
The women’s 4x400m relay group of Precious Holmes, Marisa Bellamy, Brockington and Kara Lyles is ranked 10th in the East, clocking a time of 44.48.
In the shot put, Ben Bonhurst is ranked 11th regionally, at 61-7.
Clarence Gallop is ranked 15th in the East in the hammer with an effort of 220-11.
The women’s 4x100m relay is ranked 20th in the region, at 44.48, led by Sow, Brockington, Taranisha Taylor and Maiya Dendy
APRIL 22 — GAMECOCKS HONOR SENIOR CLASS AT USC OPEN
The Gamecocks found the winner’s circle 11 times at the 2017 USC Open, held April 22 at Cregger Track. Mary Reiser (3000m), Allie Mueller (1500m), Yann Randrianasolo (long jump), Rougui Sow (long jump), Otis Jones (800m), Nakita Gray (high jump), Kara Lyles (400mH), Eric Favors (shot put) and Tye Williams (high jump) earned individual victories, and the men’s 4x100m and women’s 4x400m relays also took home wins.
The meet was also the final regular-season home competition of the season for the Gamecocks, who honored 26 graduating student-athletes as part of Senior Day festivities.
APRIL 15 — TITI RUNS 200m RECORD AT GAMECOCK INVITATIONAL
Junior sprinter Ncincilili Titi made his 200m season debut at the Gamecock Invitational, held April 15 at Cregger Track, and blazed to the fastest time in school history. Titi stopped the clock in 20.14, 0.2 faster than Carolina’s previous record in the event and the fastest time in the NCAA season. It’s also the third-fastest time in the world this year.
Titi was one of six Gamecocks to win an individual event on Saturday, joining Josh Awotunde (shot put and discus), Nakita Gray (high jump), Kara Lyles (400mH), Yann Randrianasolo (long jump) and Armand Woodley (pole vault). Carolina also won both the men’s and women’s 4x100m relays.
Next to Titi’s heroics, Randrianasolo’s long jump was perhaps the most notable performance on April 15. His effort of 25-4 Â¾ ranks fifth in Carolina history and 16th in the nation this season.
Overall, Carolina finished with 24 new personal records at the Gamecock Invitational.
APRIL 7-8 — SOW POSTS WORLD’S BEST LONG JUMP MARK AT SPEC TOWNS INVITATIONAL
South Carolina was in Athens, Ga., for the Spec Towns Invitational April 7-8, with Rougui Sow making history to highlight the weekend at Georgia. Sow won the long jump competition with a mark of 6.72m (22-0 Â¾), a new South Carolina program record and the top outdoor mark in the world this season. Sow is the first woman in the NCAA ranks to jump over 22 feet this season.
Overall, South Carolina recorded 17 podium finishes and set 20 new personal bests at Georgia. Carolina achieved five new PRs in the women’s 5000m alone, setting the tone for a great weekend.
Senior Markus Leemet competed in his first decathlon of the season last weekend, finishing fourth against a very strong field. Leemet set a PR in four of the 10 events and totaled 7,383 points.
MARCH 30 — APRIL 1 — BROCKINGTON STEALS THE SHOW AT FLORIDA RELAYS
South Carolina competed March 30 — April 1 at the Florida Relays. Senior Tyler Brockington was the star, winning the women’s 400mH with a time of 56.35 that goes down as a personal best, the third-fastest time in the nation this season and the fifth-best mark in Gamecock history. It’s the second consecutive week that Brockington has won her featured event.
Brockington was one of four Gamecocks to finish on the podium in Gainesville. Rougui Sow took second in the long jump invite with a mark of 20-9, and Natasha Dicks grabbed second in the triple jump at 43-9. The women’s shuttle hurdle relay squad added a third-place result.
Carolina also saw several student-athletes leave a mark on the Gamecock all-time record book, as seven different Gamecocks achieved a mark that ranks on the school’s top-10. Ben Bonhurst (shot put), Brockington (400mH), Clarence Gallop (hammer), Nakita Gray (high jump), Hailey Sweatman (pole vault), Ncincilili Titi (100m) and the men’s 4x200m relay team all posted new Carolina top-10 efforts in Gainesville.
MARCH 24-25 — GAMECOCKS OPEN CREGGER TRACK WITH WEEMS BASKIN INVITATIONAL
South Carolina began a new era of its storied track & field history March 24-25 with the Weems Baskin Invitational, the first meet ever on the brand-new Sheila & Morris Cregger Track. The Gamecocks welcomed over 1,100 student-athletes to Cregger Track and combined to win 13 different events at the historic meet.
On the first day of competition, Carolina walked away with five victories. Markus Leemet became the first event winner in the history of Cregger Track when he took the javelin B flight, and later in the day the senior won the B flight of the pole vault. Olivia Hassler (javelin), Rougui Sow (long jump) and the women’s 4x800m relay squad also earned victories to start the meet.
The Gamecocks grabbed eight more wins on the second day at Cregger Track. Alycia Springs led the way for the Gamecocks, winning both the shot put and the discus on the women’s side. Seniors Tyler Brockington (400mH) and Natasha Dicks (triple jump) also added victories in their first appearance at Cregger Track, as did junior Tye Williams (high jump), while both 4x100m relay teams and the women’s 4x400m squad also found the winner’s circle.
Cregger Track long promised to be one of the finest competition venues in track & field during its construction, and it lived up to that billing at the Weems Baskin. Two Gamecocks posted efforts that lead the NCAA after two weeks: Brockington’s 56.93 stands as the top 400mH time in the nation, and Josh Awotunde, who was the top collegiate finisher in the shot put, leads all collegiate throwers with a mark of 64-10 Â¾.
The Gamecocks posted five new marks that rank on Carolina’s all-time outdoor top-10 list at the Weems Baskin Invitational. Sow (long jump), Springs (shot put), Clarence Gallop (hammer throw), Funlayo Oluwole and the 4x800m quartet of Maya Evans, Maddie Beaubien, Anna Kathryn Stoddard and Allie Mueller all achieved a new mark in the program top-10 at Cregger Track.
Overall, Gamecock student-athletes combined to set 33 new personal records at the Weems Baskin Invitational, the most of any meet so far this season.
MARCH 17-18 — GAMECOCKS WIN 10 EVENTS AT HURRICANE INVITATIONAL
South Carolina opened the outdoor season March 17-18 by dominating the Hurricane Invitational in Coral Gables, Fla. Clarence Gallop (hammer throw) and Simon Gyllensten (pole vault) were victorious on Friday, while Maddie Beaubien (800m), Ben Bonhurst (shot put), Precious Holmes (400m), Jussi Kanervo (800m), Isaiah Moore (110mH), Alycia Springs (shot put) and David Winters (100m) took individual events on Saturday. Also, the Gamecocks were victorious in the women’s 4x100m relay, with Makyla Stanley, Tyler Brockington, Taranisha Taylor and Maiya Dendy racing to the win.
Overall, the Gamecocks set 21 new collegiate personal bests at the meet. Bonhurst was perhaps the top performer, with his mark of 61-3 leading the NCAA East Region through one week and ranking fifth in Carolina shot put history.
EIGHT GAMECOCKS EARN ALL-AMERICA STATUS AT NCAA INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
South Carolina is coming off of a highly successful week at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championships, held in College Station, Texas. Gamecocks Josh Awotunde (shot put), Natasha Dicks (triple jump), Rougui Sow (long jump) and Ncincilili Titi (200m) each finished as First Team All-Americans, while the women’s 4x400m relay team grabbed Second Team laurels.
Dicks finished third in the triple jump, her second consecutive podium finish at the NCAA indoor meet. The senior jumped 44-2 Â½ on her second attempt, breaking her own school record from last season’s NCAA Championships.
Awotunde placed fifth in the shot put after spending much of the competition outside of the points. The junior stood in 11th place with one prelims throw left, but he moved into the finals with an effort of 63-0. On his last attempt, the Franklinville, N.J., product vaulted into fifth with a PR of 64-6, second-best in Carolina history.
Sow was also in 11th with one preliminary effort left, and she made the finals with a jump of 20-10. Three jumps later, the Le Havre, France, native moved up to sixth with a PR mark of 21-2 Â½, third in school history.
In his fourth appearance at an NCAA championship event, Titi qualified for finals for the first time. His prelims run of 20.79 was sixth-best, and in the finals he finished eighth at 21.03.
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.
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
Following the conference meet, the Gamecocks turn their attention to the 2017 NCAA East Regional. The last stop before the national championships runs May 25-27 in Lexington, Ky.