Jan. 14, 2012
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By Miquel Jacobs
BLACKSBURG, Va. - South Carolina sophomore Jeannelle Scheper opened her 2012 track and field season in record form with her win in the high jump at the Virginia Tech Invitational that catapulted her to the top of the Gamecock all-time record books with a mark of 5'11 ½ (1.82m).
The personal best mark for Scheper breaks Olympian Chelsea Hammond's eight-year old indoor mark of 5'10 ½ and falls just three centimeters short of an NCAA Championship automatic qualifying mark.
The Gamecocks earned Saturday wins from Scheper, Clayton Gravesande (400m) and Breanna Radford (shot put) in addition to a slew of runner-up finishes from Jarrod Hutchen (long jump), Marvin Reitze (pole vault), Petra Olsen (pole vault), Katie Vuckovich (shot put) and the women's 4x400-meter relay team of Amber Allen, Christal Green, Erika Rucker and Vashti Bandy.
"Jeannelle's record was our highlight on the girls side," South Carolina head coach Curtis Frye said. "We also had a good performance out of our pole vaulter, Petra, in addition to our triple jumper on Friday. On the men's side, Marvin's pole vault was good along with Jarrod in the long jump. The girls shot putters are coming along good. It's early. We spent six weeks training since Thanksgiving, so for where we are, we know we have six weeks to get ready for the conference meet. We have a tough meet next week. This was an opener. You have to be really happy getting through. We don't have any notable injuries and we think we'll be OK. It will be a battle. It's a tough conference, but we have some really great kids working extremely hard."
Gravesande opened at 48.40 to win the men's 400-meter dash, and newcomer Jarrod Hutchen made his Gamecock debut a strong one with a mark of 24'7 ¾ (7.51m) to take second in the meet and push himself up to fourth in the Gamecock record book. It was a welcome start for the junior college transfer who saw his initial hopes of competing for South Carolina get postponed while attending Barton County Junior College in Great Bend, Kansas.
Junior Breanna Radford led a 1-2-3 finish in the women's shot put with a mark of 46'10 ¾ (14.29m). She was followed by teammates Katie Vuckovich (46'4 // 14.12m) and Stacee Roberts (46'1 ½ // 14.06m) to complete the 1-2-3 sweep in the event.
Marvin Reitze made his return to the indoor track after missing the 2011 indoor season due to injury. The All-American's return saw him set an indoor collegiate best mark of 17'1 ½ (5.22m) to claim second overall.
His counterpart on the women's side, Petra Olsen, took second with a mark of 12'9 ½ to open the year. Olsen, who missed the 2011 outdoor regular season due to injury, was an SEC All-Freshman Team selection last year as a freshman out of Malmo, Sweden.
Both mile relay teams performed well in the opener. The men's 4x400-meter relay lineup of Gravesande, Chris Maxwell, Thomas Gaither and Eric Winfrey took third with a time of 3:15.91 while the women's lineup of Allen, Green, Rucker and Bandy came in second at 3:43.45.
Three men rounded out top three finishes for South Carolina as Chris Royster took third in the 200-meter dash at 21.72, and Robert Razick took third in the 3,000-meter run at a personal best mark of 8:29.84. Razick's run comes one day after winning the mile run in what was also a personal best time, capping a great weekend for the distance runner.
"Razick's run was a good run," Frye said. "He's back on track. Him running a PR yesterday and today are good things. He's didn't have a good year last year, and this year it looks like he's more committed in his senior year to make that contribution. We need him to step up, and it looks like he will. Anytime you get a win (like Friday in the mile) is a good one. A man to be committed to the mile and 3,000-meter run is tough, so we're proud of his efforts. We'll try and keep it moving in that direction."
The Gamecocks return to action next weekend at the Auburn Invitational. The meet will be just the second collegiate meet to be held at the brand new Birmingham Sportsplex in Birmingham, Ala.
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