Jan. 13, 2018
Track & Field at the Navy Winter Invitational
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- A new school record greeted the 2018 campaign with a bang on Saturday as the University of South Carolina began its indoor campaign at the Navy Winter Invitational. Senior Tye Williams provided the day's biggest highlight, breaking Carolina's indoor men's high jump record with an effort of 7-2 ½.
Williams earned one of 16 event victories that Carolina accumulated on the first day of the 2018 season. After setting the school's outdoor high jump record last season, the Clyo, Ga., native set the indoor mark on Saturday; the previous record of 7-2 ¼ was set in 2011 by David Wilkins.
Though Saturday's meet was not scored, the Gamecocks came away with the most individual wins of the field, which included Wake Forest, Penn, George Mason, Mount St. Mary's and the hosts from Navy.
Carolina's first win of the season came in the women's 60m hurdles. Milan Parks crossed the line first, opening her 2018 campaign with a winning time of 8.63. It was her first career event victory.
Just a few minutes later, another Gamecock sprinter added to the tally. Maiya Dendy took the top spot in the 60m, stopping the clock in 7.62.
The Gamecocks won the men's side of the 60m as well, with Ncincilili Titi taking the title. The six-time All-American began his season with a winning time of 6.83 in Annapolis, and Darrell Singleton Jr. came in fourth.
Carolina was victorious in both long jump competitions, with a pair of veterans taking wins. Rougui Sow was the lone competitor to jump over six meters on the women's side, with a top mark of 6.21m. Yann Randrianasolo was the men's champion, topping out at 7.46m.
South Carolina has a long and storied history running the 400 meters, and a newcomer took her first step toward joining that legendary group on Saturday. Stephanie Davis was victorious in her debut meet, winning the 400m with a time of 54.58. The freshman was the only competitor under 55 seconds at Navy.
The early part of the season often provides opportunities to compete in non-traditional events, and Otis Jones took advantage of one of those chances Saturday. A two-time NCAA Regional qualifier in the 800, Jones won the 500m at Navy with a time of 1:03.63, just a shade off his PR in the event.
Perhaps the highlight of the day on the women's side came in the 1000m, where Allie Mueller opened her track season with a win. The junior's time of 2:57.67 was a new personal best and also the third-fastest indoor 1000m time in Carolina history.
Dendy cemented her status as the top women's sprinter at the meet when she sped to victory in the 200m later in the day. Her time of 24.68 was two-tenths of a second faster than George Mason's Gjaudy John-Wallace.
Hanifah Abdulqadir became the second Carolina newcomer to win on her debut day when she coasted to a title in the triple jump. The junior college transfer's mark of 42-9 ½ already places her fourth in the Gamecock record books.
After redshirting the outdoor portion of her freshman season, Jordan Fields was eager to begin 2018, and she started her season in the best way possible. Fields won the high jump with a mark of 5-10 ¾, the third-best indoor effort in school history. Abdulqadir also hit 5-10 ¾, with Fields winning in the individual title Saturday on a tiebreaker.
The Gamecocks took home a victory in their final men's track event of the afternoon. Rivaldo Leacock, Jordan Griffin, Simon Gyllensten and Jones finished the 4x400m relay in 3:13.27, over a second clear of the field.
A first-team All-American last season in the shot put, Josh Awotunde has big plans for the 2018 campaign. The season started with a victory for the senior, as he achieved a mark of 63-4 on Saturday, and teammate Eric Favors finished in second.
Carolina's last win of the day came in pole vault, where Hailey Sweatman was successful. The Charleston native won her season-opener in 2017 and she did the same this year, notching the fifth-best mark in Gamecock history, 13-1 ½.
A total of 14 student-athletes made their Gamecock track & field debuts on Saturday, with three taking individual victories and a fourth -- Leacock -- winning as part of a relay.
FROM THE COACH
"Tye's performance was a carry-over from last year. This kind of performance is the expectation for him, being an All-American last season and already jumping 7-4 outdoors. We have the best jumps coach the country in Coach Dee, and our kids were ready. Tye knows that today's performance would be middle of the pack at NCAAs, so he is excited to get back to training with the goal of going even higher."
"Coach Dee's group did a great job, with both girls getting PRs in the high jump and Hanifah also jumping a PR in the triple jump. Jordan also had a good day in the hurdles. I was excited to see Milan get her first collegiate win, and I'm looking forward to seeing her build on that. Maiya's two victories were good to see, and to have Stephanie win the 400 in her first meet is a good sign for what she can accomplish going forward. We're looking for promising things from her, and I think she can get into that 53 range. Hailey hit a new PR in the pole vault to get off to a great start, and Allie's 1000 was a great run. We also had plenty of personal bests among our non-winners, which was good to see, and those kids have something to build on going forward."
"Otis' run in the 500 was a good one, and overall our guys team was solid. Titi got a win in the 60, and our shot put guys performed really well in their season-opener. We're still missing a couple of pieces on the men's side, and when we're at full strength, we're going to be a tough group. Expectations are high, and we've got to continue to build on what we did today. We'll evaluate our team on Monday and see what kind of lineup we send to Clemson next week."-- Head Coach Curtis Frye
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
The Gamecocks compete in the Palmetto State for the first time this season when they take part in the Clemson Invitational, to be held Jan. 19-20 in Clemson, S.C.
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