Track & Field Ready for Big Test in Clemson
CLEMSON, S.C. (Feb. 9, 2023) – South Carolina Track & Field is gearing up for the biggest indoor track meet during the regular season for the Gamecocks, the Tiger Paw Invite in Clemson, S.C. The Tiger Paw Invite will feature a loaded field on both sides, with 12 men’s teams ranking inside the Top 25 and 11 women’s team positioned among the 25 best. In addition, a pair of Gamecocks will head to the David Hemery Valentine Invitational to try and clock NCAA times in the mile run.
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The Tiger Paw Invite will be a two-day meet beginning on Friday, Feb. 10 and concluding on Saturday, Feb. 11. Friday’s event will start at 11 a.m. with the men’s open weight throw, while the first track event will be the men’s 60-meter hurdles qualifying at 12:30 p.m. Saturday will begin earlier with a trio of field events starting at 10 a.m.: women’s shot put, men’s triple jump, men’s pole vault. The first Saturday track event will start at 11:15 a.m. with the women’s 3K, followed by the men’s 3K at 11:40 a.m. The 4×400 meter relays will begin with the women at 3:55 p.m. and the men capping off the meet at 4 p.m.
The 2023 Tiger Paw Invite features a jam-packed field of talent. On the men’s side, four teams rank inside the Top 10, led by Texas with a ranking of No. 4. Tennessee (No. 6) and Georgia (No. 9) are the highest rated SEC teams in the field for the men. The field also features the likes of Louisville (No. 12), Alabama (No. 14), Florida (No. 15), Kentucky (No. 17), Oklahoma (No. 18), Virginia (No. 19) and Auburn (No. 22). The Gamecocks also rank 24th headed into the weekend.
The women’s field features 11 Top-25 squads, including the No. 1 overall team in Texas. Florida (No. 3), Alabama (No. 6) and Texas A&M (No. 9) are the highest-ranked SEC teams in Clemson this weekend. Three more conference teams rank inside the Top 20: Tennessee (No. 12), Georgia (No. 13), and Kentucky (No. 20).
The David Hemery Valentine Invitational will feature just two Gamecocks, Silan Ayyildiz and Anass Essayi. Ayyildiz will compete in the women’s mile at 4 p.m. on Friday, while Essayi will run at 4:35 p.m. on Saturday in the men’s mile.
How big is the meet this weekend in Clemson:
“This weekend will be a big test for our teams as we run down the final stretch before SEC indoors. The best of the best will be competing and a lot of those teams we will see in two weeks at the SEC Championship in Arkansas. This is what you work for all season, one big final test before the conference championship, to see what you are made of. We as coaches are excited and I know the student-athletes are ready for the challenge ahead of them in Clemson. If you love track & field, this is one you don’t want to miss.”
Gamecocks in the Rankings
With two regular season meets remaining before the conference title, the Gamecocks will look to improve on their marks to earn spots into the NCAA Championship in Albuquerque, N.M. The top 16 marks in individual events the week of the NCAA Championship earn the automatic bid into the postseason. Whereas the relay events, the teams must be ranked inside the top 12. South Carolina currently has three individuals inside the qualifying mark: Evan Miller (2nd in 400m), Anass Essayi (2nd in 3K) and Jayla Jamison (15th in 60m). The women’s 4x400m relay team currently ranks 13th overall, however six teams ahead of them are secondary relay teams. Teams are allotted one relay squad per school, technically placing the Gamecocks in seventh now. A pair of Gamecocks are just on the cusp of the cutoff line with Miller ranking 18th in the 200m (20.76) and Kobe Franklin ranking 20th in the high jump (2.15m). Miller is .02 seconds off the 200m top 16, while Franklin is .01m shy of the top 16 in the high jump.