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Gamecock Track Celebrates Successful Summer Season
Track and Field  . 

Gamecock Track Celebrates Successful Summer Season

by Rob Walden

National, continental championships highlight offseason competitions


COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of South Carolina track & field program reports back to Columbia Aug. 17 as preparations begin for the 2019 season. As the Gamecocks open fall workouts with an eye toward the 2019 campaign, several student-athletes will bring momentum after posting strong efforts in summer competitions across the globe.

Perhaps no returning Gamecock achieved as much over the summer as long jumper Yann Randrianasolo. A two-time NCAA All-American in 2018, Randrianasolo spent the summer touring Europe, making appearances at some of the most important meets in the world.

The Toulouse, France, native opened his summer by setting a new personal best at the Albi National Meeting, jumping 8.01m on June 23 to earn the victory. He went on to finish third at the Tarragona Mediterranean Games and fifth at the French Elite Championships, with a mark of 7.78m.

Randrianasolo’s eight-meter jump from Albi ranked third on France’s national list in 2018, sending the rising senior to the inaugural Athletics World Cup in London as well as the European Championships in Berlin. Randrianasolo finished seventh at the World Cup and helped the French team place second at the competition, and at his first European Championships he placed 27th.

While Randrianasolo is a veteran of the global scene, Eric Favors took part in international competition for the first time. A throws specialist, Favors made his debut at the Irish Senior Championships as he began his quest to represent Ireland at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. A two-time NCAA Regional qualifier, Favors finished second in the shot put in Dublin with a mark of 16.45m, and he took third in the discus with an effort of 50.26m.

Rising junior Arinze Chance returned to his native Trinidad & Tobago for the nation’s National Championship meet June 22-23. Chance came in second in the 400m, running 47.68 to snag silver in the final.

After a freshman collegiate season that saw her score twice at the SEC Championships and qualify for NCAA Regionals, KD Young took part in the national youth circuit over the summer. At the USATF Junior Outdoor Championships in June, she finished fourth in the shot put, setting a new season best with a mark of 16.05m. She also came in ninth in the hammer throw.

Young capped her illustrious junior career in July at the USATF Hershey National Junior Olympics in Greensboro. The Decatur, Ill., native won the 17-18 division of the shot put with a mark of 15.24m, earning her fourth-career Junior Olympic victory in the event. She also placed second in both the hammer throw and the discus at the Junior Olympics.

Two Gamecock sprinters joined Young at the USATF Junior National meet in Bloomington, Ind. Caitlyn Little qualified for the finals of the 100m hurdles and finished seventh overall, running 13.55 into a headwind in the finals. Stephanie Davis just missed the 400m final with a ninth-place finish in prelims, though she ran a season-best 53.18.

Two Gamecocks took part in the Aliann Pompey Invitational, held in late June in Guyana. Rising junior Aliyah Abrams, who represented Guyana at the 2016 Rio Olympics, won the women’s 400m with a time of 52.31. Chance took fourth in the men’s 400m, clocking a season-best 46.82.

A handful of Gamecock legends also took part in the summer circuit, with none shining brighter than 2018 graduate Ncincilili Titi. Carolina’s 200m record-holder, Titi took part in one Diamond League event, finishing seventh in London at the Muller Anniversary Games. That set the stage for the first week of August, as Titi took part in the African Championships in Asaba, Nigeria. The Butterworth, South Africa, native left Asaba as a continental champion, easily winning the 200m title with a winning time of 20.46.

As the African champion in his event, Titi is eligible to run in the IAAF Continental Cup. The premier international event of 2018, the Continental Cup will take place Sept. 8-9 in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Recent Gamecock graduate Rougui Sow also tasted victory on the international stage, as she captured the women’s long jump title at the French Elite Championships. Like Randrianasolo, she won her first tune-up competition at the Albi National Meeting with an effort of 6.41m, and she stretched that mark out to 6.49m to bring home the French national title for the first time. Sow also participated at the Athletics World Cup in London, coming in fifth place and helping France to a second-place overall finish.

Two Gamecock legends took part in the 2018 USATF National Championships in June. 2018 graduate Josh Awotunde finished seventh overall and led all 2018 collegians in the field with a mark of 20.14m. Carolina Hall of Fame honoree Miki Barber ran the 100m, finishing seventh in her heat in her 19th appearance at the national meet.

2015 NCAA high jump champion Jeannelle Scheper competed throughout Europe this summer as she continues her quest to qualify for a second Olympic Games. Scheper’s best effort came in July at the Meeting Internationale de la Province de Liège in Belgium, where she jumped 1.86m to finish fifth.

Kierre Beckles joined Scheper at the 2016 Rio Olympics and was also on the road to the 2020 Games this summer. Beckles finished second at the Barbados National Championship in June, running 13.77 in the 100m hurdles final. Her silver-medal effort was good enough to represent Barbados at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, where she took eighth in the 100mH at 13.48.

Carolina’s track & field student-athletes report back to campus Aug. 17 for the start of the 2018-19 academic year and fall workouts. The 2019 season begins in January, as Carolina opens its new indoor facility. The Gamecocks will hold three home meets in the new indoor complex, with two outdoor meets booked for Sheila & Morris Cregger Track. The complete 2019 schedule will be released in the coming months.