2019 Season Preview - Throws
Four returning regional qualifiers look to make national impact this season
2019 Track & Field Preview – Throws
The University of South Carolina track & field team returns to action this Friday for head coach Curtis Frye’s 23rd season in charge. In the days leading up to the start of the 2019 season, GamecocksOnline.com will preview each section of the Carolina squad, taking a glance at key returners and highlighting newcomers who could make their names as the next great Gamecock superstars. Today’s preview focuses on Carolina’s throws squad.
FROM THE COACH
“Both of those guys have huge expectations. Ben is a senior. He’s been around 62 feet, he’s been a conference scorer, and he’s looking to take that next step: getting to nationals and being on top of the podium at the SEC Championships. Eric is coming into his own. He was voted a team captain this year. The guy has been blowing up the weight room all fall, so he’s ready to go.”
“Alycia’s development has ben a lot of fun to be a part of. Each year, she’s gained confidence, and I feel like this year is going to be her best one yet. She was also voted a team captain, and her maturity and her belief in herself and what we’re doing is really coming together. It will be fun to see what kind of year she has.”
“KD is an exceptional individual, in that she really wants to be great in everything she does. You ask her what is her favorite (event), and it probably depends on the day. She sees herself as someone who can help the team in all three events, and she wants to be at the very highest level in all three events..” – Assistant Coach Mike Sergent on returning throwers Ben Bonhurst, Eric Favors, Alycia Springs and KD Young
2018 REVIEW – MEN’S TEAM
For the Carolina throws squad, 2018 will always be remembered as the year of Josh Awotunde. As a senior, Awotunde posted one of the finest shot put seasons in Gamecock history. He set the school record both indoors and outdoors, won the event at the SEC Indoor Championships, and earned top-three finishes at both NCAA Championships in his final collegiate season.
Fellow senior Ben Bonhurst took a redshirt year in 2018 after undergoing offseason knee surgery, while 2017 Freshman All-SEC honoree Eric Favors set new personal bests in the weight throw, shot put and discus.
RETURNING ALL-SEC HONOREE – BEN BONHURST
After two seasons at Florida State, Bonhurst transferred to Carolina in 2017 and made an instant impact. He scored in the shot put at the SEC indoor meet, earned the bronze medal at the outdoor conference championships and finished one spot outside of a trip to the NCAA Championships with a 13th-place regional finish. But lingering knee injuries hampered him throughout the season, and Bonhurst redshirted in 2018 after undergoing offseason surgery. Now back as a fifth-year senior in 2019, the Smithtown, N.Y., native is ready to make one more run at NCAAs and also has his eye on big points at the conference level.
RETURNING ALL-SEC HONOREE – ERIC FAVORS
Favors has steadily improved in his three seasons on the Gamecock roster and shows signs of a breakout in 2019. The Pomona, N.Y., product was a Freshman All-SEC pick in 2017, when he threw the nation’s top indoor shot put mark among freshmen, and he followed that up with three different PRs last year. He added international experience over the summer as he competed at the Irish National Championships, his first step toward potentially representing the nation at the 2020 Olympic Games. Twice an NCAA Regional qualifier, Favors wants to take it one step farther as a redshirt junior and earn a seat on the plane to Austin, Texas, for the NCAA Championships. He also will factor into the scoring mix at both conference meets.
KEY NEWCOMERS – MEN’S TEAM
Freshman Isaiah Davenport was an all-state selection at nearby Lexington High School, including a runner-up finish in the discus at 5A state meet in 2017. Charleston native Malik Paul spent two seasons at USC Beaufort, where he was the Sun Conference MVP in 2018 and twice qualified for the NAIA Championships in the discus.
2018 REVIEW – WOMEN’S TEAM
With a roster consisting entirely of underclassmen, Carolina’s women’s throwing squad left their mark in 2018, including seven new entries on the program’s top-10 record book. Three different athletes – Alycia Springs, KD Young and Amanda Murphy – notched spots on the records list last season, and each eyes postseason glory in the coming year.
RETURNING ALL-SEC HONOREE – ALYCIA SPRINGS
A Freshman All-SEC athlete in 2017, Springs took another step forward last season, including a 52-foot shot put throw outdoors, two regular-season victories and a 25th-place finish at the NCAA East Regional. That result was 20 spots higher than her 2017 regional effort, and another improvement this season puts Springs well within range of the NCAA Championships. She also aims to better her PR for the third-consecutive season and get back into the top-eight at the SEC level. As an upperclassman and a team captain, Springs hopes to shoulder a significant share of the points as the Gamecocks look to climb the SEC ranks as a team.
RETURNING ALL-SEC HONOREE – KD YOUNG
Young was the top freshman finisher in the shot put at both SEC meets last season, and she also posted Carolina top-10 marks in the weight throw and the hammer while just missing a spot on the school’s discus leaderboard. At the NCAA East Regional, she finished 20th, and she closed her youth career over the summer with a victory at the USATF Junior Olympics in Bloomington, Ind. It was her fourth and final Junior Olympics win as a youth athlete, and it sets the stage for a 2019 season in which Young is a prime contender to earn an NCAA berth and contend for the conference crown in multiple events.
KEY RETURNERS – WOMEN’S TEAM
Murphy’s hammer throw output grew by leaps and bounds in 2018, and she ended the season with a mark of 175-5, seventh-best in Carolina history. Nina Gambacorta specialized in the discus, weight throw and hammer, and Carisma Holland took a redshirt after an early-season injury. Each student-athlete has the ability to move into the SEC scoring mix this season.