A Time to Shine for Gamecock Track at NCAA Outdoor Championships
Sixteen Gamecocks student-athletes will compete at the NCAA Outdoor Championships this week.
For some, it’s unfinished business. For others, it’s their first shot on hallowed ground. Either way, for 16 South Carolina track and field student-athletes, competing at the Outdoor National Championships in Eugene, Oregon, this week is the opportunity of a lifetime.
“You can equate going to Eugene like going to Omaha for baseball,” said assistant coach Kevin Brown, who works with sprinters, relays, and pole vaulters. “It’s track town USA. They’re excited about it. It’s a special thing for these student-athletes to go to the place that will host the World Championships this summer. It’s definitely special.
“It’s the National Championships, so it’s the best of the best. You definitely have to do something to calm them down, relax, and trust in themselves in what they’ve been putting into it all year long. With this large group, I think it shows what we’ve been doing to try to build this program. We have student-athletes in a lot of different events. It just shows that we’re doing good things with the program, both men and women.”
Sophomore high jumper Rachel Glenn is back at the Outdoor National Championships for the second straight year and knows she’ll have a bullseye on her back after winning her event last year.
“I try to go in with the same mindset that I had last year,” Glenn said. “Of course, there will always be nerves involved. I was nervous at regionals. I really try to stay focused on myself. When I worry about competing against other people, then I mess up my whole routine. It means a lot to get back there. My jumping has been on and off this year. Regionals was a really good meet for me, and I felt more like myself with my routine.”
“It’s my last collegiate track meet, and I want to go out with a bang.”
– Destinee Rocker
Others have been there before and haven’t done as well as they had hoped.
“I didn’t run the way I wanted to the first time I went to Nationals, but the experience was definitely something to remember because now I know what I need to do going into this year,” said senior Stephanie Davis who is part of the 4×400 relay team and is making her third trip to the Outdoor Nationals. “It’s most definitely unfinished business. This is not the end for me. I will back in Eugene at the USTF Championships to try to qualify for the World Championships. It’s all about practice and preparation just to get ready.”
“It’s my last collegiate track meet, and I want to go out with a bang,” said senior Destinee Rocker, who runs the 100-meter hurdles and had competed at Nationals before when she attended Colorado State. “I want to set the school record, hit the U.S. standard, and world standard. I didn’t do my best the last time I made Nationals, but this year I’m expecting different results. It’s definitely a revenge year for me.
“This is big for me because last year I was hurt and had to watch it on TV. I knew I wanted to get there this year, and I did it. Now, I want to finish it off with a school record. My training has gone well. I’m in a better position than I was before.”
For others, getting to Eugene is a dream come true, but they’re not just happy to be there.
“It feels pretty good,” said junior Evan Miller, who will run in the 200 meters and is part of the 4×100 relay team. “It’s a good experience to run against the best competition in the nation. I’m ready to see what I can do out there. Competing in the SEC definitely prepared me for this. I did pretty good this season. I had the chance to run against some pretty big names.”
Miller is coming off a strong finish at regionals where he went from seventh to second in his race in the final 50 meters to go to the NCAA championship for second time this year after reaching the Indoor Championship earlier.
“It was a pretty stacked race in terms of competitors,” Miller said of the Regional meet. “I told myself at the beginning of the season that I was going to go to Nationals, so during the race, I was just thinking about what I had said. I don’t like to let myself down, so I did what I could.”
Each competitor has his/her own routine for preparing themselves physically and mentally. Getting to the meet in Eugene is no small feat, and each is excited for the chance to become a champion.
“It means that you’re one of the best,” said Davis. “It means you’re world-class. When you line up against the top 12 or top 24 in the nation, it means you’re a world class runner, and you’re capable of achieving anything. The key for me running a good race is having a sound mind. I just have to make sure when I’m running around the track that I’m telling myself to be brave, be strong, and finish strong.”
“I think I’m pretty used to the competition now,” Rocker said. “I don’t get intimidated by other people. It’s mostly me versus me.”
“The keys to having a good race, is to have some bananas, some blueberries and some Pedialyte the night before,” Miller said.
“The keys for me are to focus on my same routine that I did last year, consistency, listen to my coach, and keeping the same workout routine,” Glenn said. “I’m looking forward to the crowd as well.
The crowd was really hype last year!”
GAMECOCKS IN THE OUTDOOR NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Elisha Brooks (So.) – 4×100 relay
Anass Essayi (Fr.) – 1500 meters
Anthony Greenhow, Jr. (Fr.) 4×100 relay
Christian Lewis (So.) – 4×100 relay
Jackson Marseille (So.) – High Jump
Evan Miller (Jr) – 200 meters, 4×100 relay
Will Spencer, Jr. (So.)- 400-meter hurdles
Dylan Targgart (Fr.) – Shotput
Stephanie Davis (Sr.) – 4×400 relay
Makenzie Dunmore (Sr.) – 400 meters, 4×100 relay, 4×400 relay
Angel Frank (So.) – 4×100 relay, 4×400 relay
Tierra Frasier (Fr.) – 4×100 relay,
Rachel Glenn (So) – High Jump
Jayla Jamison (Fr.) – 4×100 relay
Jahnile Registre (Fr.) – 4 x400 relay
Destinee Rocker (Sr.) – 100-meter hurdles