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Jan. 5, 2018

2018 Track & Field Preview — Throws

The University of South Carolina track & field team returns to action in January for head coach Curtis Frye’s 22nd season in charge. In the days leading up to the start of the 2018 season, will preview each section of the Carolina squad, taking a glance at key returners and highlighting key newcomers who could make their names as the next great Gamecock superstars. Today’s preview focuses on Carolina’s throwers.


“This is Josh (Awotunde’s) fifth year, so he’s put in four years of college-level work. Every year, he’s gotten better. We’ve battled through a couple of injuries along the way, but this fall has been a great fall. He’s bigger and stronger than he ever has been, and we feel super enthusiastic about the upcoming season.”

“Alycia (Springs) has really matured this year in terms of her leadership. That’s going to play into her success this year, where she’s at mentally. She’s improving there.”

“We’re excited to have Shelby (Freedman) back. She’s also a team leader and someone who’s coming into her own. This is her fourth year. She’s a team captain. Her surgery went well, and her rehab has been going well this fall. Luckily, she still has until Mach or April before she really has to be ready, and she’s been looking great. She’s looking to go out with a bang.” — Assistant Coach Mike Sergent


Then a freshman, Alycia Springs led the way for Carolina’s throwers in 2017. The Charlotte native earned SEC All-Freshman status indoors with a sixth-place shot put finish at the conference meet, and she also scored in the shot put outdoors with a seventh-place result at the league championship. Springs won the shot put competition at a pair of regular-season meets and added a discus victory at the Weems Baskin Invitational, and she got her first taste of the NCAA postseason environment when she qualified for the East Regional.

A pair of departed seniors closed their careers with strong 2017 efforts. Kierstin Williams set PRs in the weight throw and the hammer and finished 14th in the latter event at the SEC Championships. Olivia Hassler won the javelin at the Weems Baskin and finished 12th at the conference meet.


An injury kept Shelby Freedman out of action in 2017, but after taking a redshirt season, the Danville, Pa., native is ready to reach the heights she found in her breakout 2016 campaign. Freedman was on fire late in her sophomore season, throwing a PR of 168-0 to finish sixth at the SEC Championships. She qualified for the NCAA East Regional and then punched a ticket to Eugene with her final throw of the meet. The first Gamecock to qualify for the NCAA Championships in women’s javelin since 2000, Freedman placed 13th at Hayward Field to take home second-team All-America honors.


Springs vaulted into Carolina’s all-time top-10 list in the shot put as a freshman and spent the offseason prepping to take the next step. After scoring at both SEC meets and qualifying for regionals, Springs is an All-America candidate in 2018.

Javelin specialist Amy Suttmeier returns in 2018 after redshirting last year. A couple of freshmen, Nina Gambacorta and Amanda Murphy, are also set to begin their competitive careers after taking redshirts in 2017.


Two true freshmen bring tremendous promise to the Carolina squad in 2018. Hailing from Decatur, Ill., KD Young was Illinois’ Gatorade Athlete of the Year in each of her final two seasons after earning four state championships in both the discus and the shot put. She also won the shot put at the USATF Junior Olympics and finished second at New Balance Nationals. Seneca High School product Carisma Holland was a three-time South Carolina state champion individually and led the Bobcats to the 2016 team title. She was also South Carolina’s Gatorade Athlete of the Year as a senior.


Carolina’s trio of Josh Awotunde, Ben Bonhurst and Eric Favors stood out as one of Carolina’s most consistent and accomplished groups in 2017. All three scored for the Gamecocks in the shot put at the SEC Indoor Championships, then Awotunde went on to earn first-team All-America honors at the NCAA Championships. Outdoors, Awotunde won the silver and Bonhurst took the bronze at the conference meet. All three competed at the NCAA East Regional, with Awotunde advancing to Eugene and Bonhurst missing a nationals trip by just one spot.

Departed senior Clarence Gallop also had a strong 2017 campaign, scoring at the SEC Championships in the hammer throw and qualifying for the NCAA East Regional.


Awotunde’s junior season was his best yet, beginning with a strong indoor campaign. As a junior, he finished fifth in the shot put at the NCAA Indoor Championships, earning first-team All-America status for the first time, and his top throw at the national meet, 64-6, ranks second in Carolina history. Outdoors, the Franklinville, N.J., product won four regular-season meets and scored at SECs in both the shot (silver medal) and the discus (eighth place). He went on to earn an NCAA Championships berth for the second-consecutive season, and he harbors national title ambitions for his final collegiate season.


Favors earned SEC All-Freshman recognition indoors in the shot put and finished the indoor campaign with the top shot put mark nationally among freshmen — 60-6 ½. Outdoors, he finished on the podium at three regular-season meets and qualified for the NCAA East Regional, a meet he could certainly make an impact on this season.