Gamecocks Looking for National Titles at NCAA Outdoor Championships
June 5, 2018
Outdoor Meet #11 – Track & Field at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Championships
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of South Carolina track & field team reaches the conclusion of the 2018 season this week as it competes at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Josh Awotunde (shot put), Yann Randrianasolo (long jump) and Ncincilili Titi (200m) represent the Gamecocks on the men’s side, while the women’s squad will send Aliyah Abrams (400m), Lissa Labiche (high jump) and Rougui Sow (long jump) to nationals, along with 4x100m and 4x400m relays. The meet runs June 6-9 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
The University of Oregon serves as host for the sixth consecutive season and the final time before the University of Texas assumes hosting duties for 2019 and 2020. The NCAA Outdoor Championships will return to a rebuilt Hayward Field for 2021 and 2022.
WATCH THE GAMECOCKS LIVE ON THE ESPN FAMILY OF NETWORKS
The ESPN family of networks will broadcast live coverage of the 2018 NCAA Championships across a variety of platforms.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6 – 3:30 p.m. ET Â• ESPN3 | 7:30 p.m. ET Â• ESPNU
THURSDAY, JUNE 7 – 1 p.m. ET Â• ESPN3 | 7 p.m. ET Â• ESPN2
FRIDAY, JUNE 8 – 3:30 p.m. ET Â• ESPN3 | 8:30 p.m. ET Â• ESPN
SATURDAY, JUNE 9 – 2:30 p.m. ET Â• ESPN3 | 6:30 p.m. ET Â• ESPN
“We think all of our kids have a chance of scoring. If they do well, then the Gamecocks do well. We’re looking for a top-20 finish out of our men and our women to be a top-25 finish. ” — Head Coach Curtis Frye
“I am so excited. It just feels so great to be back. I know the atmosphere and the environment are going to be off the chain, so there is going to be a lot of energy in the stadium. I am just ready to go and give it my all.” — Aliyah Abrams
“I think my experience helps me manage the stress better. This is something that I’ve done before. You’d think that I’d be more nervous this time, since it’s my last time, but the experience definitely helps me be more calm and execute things better this time.” — Ncincilili Titi
LAST YEAR AT THE NCAA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
Carolina sent 10 entries to Eugene one season ago and finished with three first-team All-America showings. Tye Williams led the way with a fourth-place finish in high jump, and Rougui Sow placed highest among repeat nationals qualifiers with a sixth-place result in long jump. On the track, Isaiah Moore brought home Carolina’s best result, taking eighth in the 110m hurdles.
Overall, Carolina finished 49th last season in the men’s team standings, with 5.5 points, and they came in 52nd on the women’s side, with three points.
GAMECOCK HISTORY AT THE NCAA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
South Carolina reached the pinnacle of collegiate track & field in 2002, when the Gamecock women’s program won the NCAA outdoor national championship in Baton Rouge, La. Guided by a collegiate record in the 4x400m relay, Carolina scored 82 points at the 2002 championship, topping UCLA by 10 points.
The national title in 2002 is one of 12-consecutive top-10 finishes earned by the Gamecock women between 1995 and 2006. Carolina tied for second in 2005, finished third in 2003 and 2006 and came in fourth in 2001 at outdoor nationals.
The Gamecock men have placed in the top-10 four times, reaching a high watermark of sixth in 1999, 2002 and 2009.
The women’s program has tallied 14 event national titles, the most recent coming in 2015 when Jeannelle Scheper was the high jump winner. Miki Barber and Aleen Bailey were each part of three outdoor NCAA crowns, tops in program history.
The Carolina men’s program owns 10 event national championships since 1948, when Norman “Scooter” Rucks made Gamecock history by winning the 400m dash. Brad Snyder broke a 50-year outdoor national drought when he captured the shot put title in 1998. Otukile Lekote and Terrence Trammell were each part of a program-record three outdoor event national championships.
Aliyah Abrams — R-SO — GRAYSON, GA. — 400m
After missing the 2017 outdoor and 2018 indoor seasons due to injury, Abrams returns to the national stage to compete individually in the 400m. The redshirt sophomore matched a collegiate best at the NCAA East Regional last week, when she stopped the clock in 52.04. That was the 10th-best time at the East Regional and the 15th-best time in the nation during the regional round.
Abrams is now a three-time NCAA Championships qualifier. As a freshman in 2016, she qualified for Eugene, finishing third as part of the 4x400m relay and taking ninth individually in the 400m. In 2017, she made the indoor meet in the 4x400m relay, guiding the team to a ninth-place finish.
Josh Awotunde — SR — FRANKLINVILLE, N.J. — SHOT PUT
Awotunde enters the national meet as one of the favorites to bring home the shot put title. The senior was the nation’s top competitor in the regional round, posting a throw of 20.54m. Two weeks prior to that, he broke a Carolina school record with an effort of 20.77m at the SEC Championships, the third-best mark in the nation this season. Awotunde was the 2018 SEC Indoor Champion and earned conference silver at the league’s outdoor meet.
The Franklinville, N.J., native will be making his fifth and final NCAA Championships appearance in Eugene. His best NCAA finish came in March at the 2018 indoor championships, when he grabbed the bronze medal. He was also a first-team All-American at the 2016 outdoor and 2017 indoor NCAA Championships.
Lissa Labiche — R-SO — MAHE, SEYCHELLES — HIGH JUMP
Labiche brought a wealth of international experience to the Carolina roster this season, and she’s added more hardware to he trophy case in 2018. The redshirt sophomore was the SEC indoor silver medalist in the high jump, and she won the event at Penn Relays. She was one of 22 high-jumpers to qualify for Eugene by jumping 1.80m at the NCAA East Regional; her season-best of 1.82m came in Philadelphia.
Labiche is a two-time Olympian, a three-time African continental champion and now a two-time NCAA Championships qualifiers. She finished 14th in March at the NCAA Indoor Championships in College Station, Texas.
Yann Randrianasolo — SR — TOULOUSE, FRANCE — LONG JUMP
Randrianasolo was on the fringe of NCAA Championships qualification when he took the runway for his third and final jump at the East Regional, but the senior left no doubt with his final attempt. His mark of 7.82m ranked sixth nationally at the regional stage. He holds a season-best of 7.99m, set April 13 at the Tennessee Relays.
This is Randrianasolo’s first trip to Eugene and his second NCAA Championships experience. On the heels of an SEC silver-medal performance, the senior qualified for the 2018 indoor meet in March. He finished 14th.
Rougui Sow — JR — LE HAVRE, FRANCE — LONG JUMP
Sow fought through a host challenges to qualify out of the NCAA East Regional, including a four-hour weather delay in the middle of her competition. Still, Sow weathered the storm to post a jump of 6.18m, 10th-best in the East and 15th overall in the regional round. Her season best, 6.57m, came in a fourth-place performance at the SEC Championships.
Sow is making her fourth appearance at the NCAA Championships. Last season, her first with the Gamecocks, the Le Havre, France, native finished sixth at both the indoor and outdoor championships. In March, she brought home her third first-team All-America honor with an eighth-place finish at the 2018 indoor meet.
Ncincilili Titi — SR — BUTTERWORTH, SOUTH AFRICA — 200m
Titi is a prime contender in the 200m, where his Carolina-record mark of 20.00 is the third-fastest time in the nation this season. The senior ran that time April 21 at the USC Open; most recently, he posted the nation’s third-fastest regional time, 20.27, to qualify for Eugene.
Titi is now a seven-time All-American, including first-team laurels in the indoor 200m in both 2017 and 2018. His best individual finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships came last season, when he finished 11th.
WOMEN’S 4X100m RELAY
South Carolina was the fastest non-automatic qualifier in the women’s 4x100m relay at the NCAA East Regional, as Maiya Dendy, Stephanie Davis, Milan Parks and Makyla Stanley got the baton around the track in 44.02. That time was 13th-best mark in the nation during the regional round, impressive considering Carolina entered the postseason ranked 52nd.
This will be the third-straight season that Carolina runs the women’s 4×1 in Eugene. Last year, Dendy and Parks were part of the group that finished 14th to earn second-team All-America status. Carolina won a national championship in the event in 2002.
WOMEN’S 4X400m RELAY
The Gamecocks earned the 24th and final East Regional berth in the 4x400m relay, but Carolina found a new gear when the gun went off in Tampa. Davis, Abrams, Tatyana Mills and Precious Holmes turned in a time of 3:33.22, the 13th-best time nationally in the regional round.
This will be the first time Carolina has fielded a women’s 4×4 in Eugene since 2016. That was a banner year, as Abrams and Holmes were part of a group that finished third in the nation. Carolina won the national title in the event in 2000 and 2002.