Carolina Track and Field Returns Home for Gamecock Invitational
The Gamecocks are back in action after two weeks of limited competition on the track
COLUMBIA– Gamecock track and field returns to its home track on Saturday for the Gamecock Invitational. It’s the second of three home meets for Carolina this season. The Gamecocks return after most of the team had an off week last weekend.
The lone participants for Carolina were Anass Essayi and Sean Petersen, who ran at the Joe Walker Invitational. Gamecock athletes will attempt to put up Regional qualifying marks on their home track this weekend against a field that includes Ohio State, Virginia Tech and East Carolina.
The Gamecocks will also be retiring Dawn Ellerbe’s jersey at 11:50 a.m. You can read more on that event here.
Follow the Meet
Live results can be found at https://results.adkinstrak.com/meets/13749. Fans can come watch the Gamecock Invitational at the Sheila and Morris Cregger Track for free. Fans can follow along with updates on Twitter @GamecockTrack. A full recap will be posted on Twitter, Facebook and GamecocksOnline.com.
The Gamecock Invitational gets going at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. On the track, the men’s 5,000 meters starts the day. In the field, it’s the women’s hammer throw that will kick off the action at the Sheila and Morris Cregger Track.
Last Time Out
The Gamecocks have had two weekends in a row of limited competition. Last weekend, it was Anass Essayi and Sean Petersen running the 1,500 meters at the Joe Walker Invitational. Essayi broke the Gamecock school record again, running the No. 2 NCAA time of 3:39.03 for the victory in Oxford, Mississippi.
The weekend prior, the Gamecocks were at Florida Relays, but competition was cut short in Gainesville, Florida. Before the inclement weather cut the Florida Relays short for Carolina, the Gamecocks put up impressive performance in the intermediate hurdles. Will Spencer Jr. ran a time of 49.56 in the 400-meter hurdles to win the event at Florida Relays. Rachel Glenn ran her personal best and one of the NCAA’s best times of 56.43. Kayla Racine and KD Young both tossed personal bests in the women’s hammer throw.
– Conditions: Scattered Thunderstorms
– Temperature: High of 76°
– Chance of Precipitation: 58%
Coach Frye on the Meet
On what the off week was like for his team
“We’re into the last two weeks to get shots at Regional qualifiers. So many teams last week ran. We lost some opportunities at Florida Relays. Hopefully we can gain back some of our rankings and get some new Regional qualifying marks. That’s our focus. How many can you get to Regionals? How many can you get to Nationals from Regionals? So, it’s going to be a challenge. I hope the weather works for us. The weather has been an issue for us. Everybody at our meet will have to run the same conditions and hopefully they’ll be good because we need some good conditions. We’ve had god training. This week, we’re backing off after a strong week last week. We’ll try to get our relays going and some good 400-meter times from our women. Destinee needs a good hurdle time. Our shot put crew missed Florida. Our men’s high jumpers need to get going. Our men’s long jumpers are looking to get on the board. Filip hasn’t had a chance at a hurdle race, so he will have two shots at a good race.”
On what the preparation is like for athletes with Regional qualifiers
“Their seeding is important. The athletes might not realize that, but that’s something we have to coach them through. They see it as ‘If I’m 24 in the Region, I’m pretty safe.’ But the reality is, 24 doesn’t have as good of seeding as 1, 2, 3 or 4. If you’re down the list, you might end up in a loaded heat and if they only take three to the next round, that isn’t good. If you’re the first or second seed in a heat, you’re a little more comfortable. Lanes are drawn, so you could get a bad lane. But a bad lane and a bad seed makes it difficult. Every time you get a bad seed, the next round is a tougher run. You have to be on. The better your seed, the easier it is for you at the next round. At Nationals, they seed based on Regional times. Our analogies are that we’re taking exams, but now it’s you’re going to grad school and this is the exam to get into that med school or law school.”
Hitting His Stride
Anass Essayi is garnering national attention after running a time of 3:39.03 at the Joe Walker Invitational to win the 1,500 meters and defeat Mile champion Mario Garcia Romo.
Essayi picked up SEC Runner of the Week honors for his performance at the Joe Walker Invitational over the weekend.
Essayi won the 1,500 meters at the Joe Walker Invitational on Friday night. He took home a victory with the No. 2 time in the NCAA of 3:39.03. Essayi’s time leads the SEC, which helped him earn his first career SEC weekly award.
Essayi defeated reigning NCAA Mile champion Mario Garcia Romo of Ole Miss on a windy, chilly night on the champion’s home track in Oxford, Mississippi. The field Essayi defeated was responsible for six of the top 50 times in the NCAA this season at 1,500 meters.
The Moroccan’s time of 3:39.03 set the school record in the 1,500 meters, taking down Essayi’s time from the week prior at the Florida Relays. Before Essayi’s Florida Relays performance, the school record was set in 1974 by Jim Schaper.
Essayi is the fifth Gamecock athlete to pick up SEC weekly awards this year. Anthony Greenhow, Jr., Carson Lenser, Jayla Jamison and Tierra Frasier all have earned SEC Freshman of the Week awards this year.
A Look at the Leaderboard
The Gamecocks have 16 performances in the top 50 of the NCAA after two weekends of competition, including six top-10 performances.
Makenzie Dunmore is at No. 7 in the women’s 400 meters. Dunmore ran a time of 52.38 to win the event at Weems Baskin and earn a top-10 spot. Dunmore also has one of the best times in the country in the NCAA in the 200 meters. She ran a time of 23.24 at the Tiger Track Classic for the No. 21 time in the NCAA this season.
Rachel Glenn had the third-best performance in the country in the women’s high jump. She cleared 1.90m/6-2.75 to win the invitational section of the high jump at Weems Baskin. It is the highest bar she’s cleared since her high jump title in June of 2021.
The women’s 4X100-meter and 4X400-meter relay teams are both ranked in the top 11. The 4X100-meter relay team ran a time of 43.83 at Weems Baskin to rank 11th in the country. The 4X400-meter relay team ran the NCAA’s ninth-fastest time in the country at the Tiger Track Classic when they ran a time of 3:31.84.
Evan Miller also has a top-15 time in the country. He ran a time of 20.51 in the 200 meters at Weems Baskin to rank 15th in the country. Miller is coming off an indoor season in which he earned his first ever First Team All America honor with a sixth-place finish at Indoor Nationals.
The Gamecocks have three top-50 times in the women’s 200 meters. Dunmore, Tierra Frasier, Jayla Jamison and Angel Frank all rank in the top 50 in the event.
Carolina’s women also have three top-50 times in the women’s 400 meters. Dunmore, Alysia Johnson and Frank all are in the top 50 of the NCAA.
At the Regional level, the Gamecocks have 25 qualifying times and marks to make it to the East Regional, which is the first step to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in June.
Carolina track and field athletes have another opportunity this weekend to put up some of the nation’s best performances.