Feb. 4, 2012
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By Miquel Jacobs
NEW YORK CITY - South Carolina sophomore Jeannelle Scheper broke the school record in the high jump that she initially claimed just three weeks ago to lead South Carolina in the final day of competition at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational in uptown Manhattan.
Scheper slowly outlasted a field of 15 in the high jump, and her clearance at 5'10 ¾ (1.80m) made her just one of three women remaining in the event. The bar then was moved to 6'0 (1.83m), one centimeter higher than her previous school record mark set exactly three weeks ago in the season opener at the Virginia Tech Invitational. Scheper responded by clearing the bar on her third attempt, letting out a cheer that was drowned out by the cheers of her teammates spread throughout The Armory track center.
"I felt really good because six feet has been a goal of mine for a long time," Scheper said. "It gets you closer to qualifying for NCAA's, so I was really happy with my performance."
She is now one of seven women to ever clear 6'0 in the women's high jump in the 11-year history of the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. Scheper's mark puts her in a tie for fourth on the NCAA list this season with only five weekends remaining before bids are handed out for the NCAA Indoor Championships that will be held in Nampa, Idaho. Her steady improvement has her coaches encouraged that Scheper can continue to work hard and earn a berth in the field as just a sophomore.
"I was telling one of my teammates that it really helps when they cheer," Scheper said. "It really helps me. It makes me realize that people are actually paying attention."
Redshirt sophomore Dorian Johnson began the day with a runner-up finish and season best mark of 48'8 ¼ (14.84m) in the triple jump to get things started off on the right foot for the Gamecocks. Johnson came one centimeter away from winning the event on his final jump of the day.
"It was a little bit less competitive than last year," Johnson said. "I'm starting to get into the swing of things. I felt a little more comfortable coming down the runway and executing proper technique. That's part of the reason I'm doing so well. We're starting to hit our championship season, so there's a lot of anxiety, and I think they played a role in how I jumped."
Marvin Reitze took second among collegians in the men's pole vault championships with a top clearance of 17'4 ½ (5.30m). Reitze has placed first or second in every meet this season.
"We had a great performance out of Marvin (Reitze) and a great one out of Jeannelle," South Carolina head coach Curtis Frye said. "Jeannelle set a school record again, so that's big for us. Our mile relays both stepped up and had good runs, and we had substitutes on them, which is good indication of where we can be. We can see places where we can score some points in the conference meet now. We've seen everyone in the league, so now we can make assessments to see how we can get ourselves in the top eight. I'm real happy for our team. As long as they stay positive and keep working, we have to get to the point where they all make contributions. I'm so proud that this is my team. They handled themselves well here in New York."
Sophomore Chris Royster ran a season best time for the second straight week in the 200-meter dash. Royster won his heat of the championship preliminary section at 21.51 to place seventh overall in the prelims before also finishing seventh in the championship final at 21.52.
Classmate Amber Allen fought her way into the 400-meter championship final with a solid preliminary round in the college section Friday night, and the All-American responded with an eighth-place finish at a season-best time of 56.00.
The men's 4x200-meter relay team of Chris Maxwell, Damiere Byrd, Chris Walker and Nejmi Burnside cruised to a time of 1:27.71 to place fourth overall in the championship. The women's 4x200-meter relay team of Christal Green, Ahtyana Johnson, Kelsey McCorkle and Asia Delaney placed fifth overall at 1:38.73.
The 4x400-meter relays took sixth and seventh as the women's team of Erika Rucker, Nadonnia Rodriques, Tamera Harris and Amber Allen ran a season best 3:38.30, and the men's team of Clayton Gravesande, Andre Carter, Eric Winfrey and Chris Maxwell ran a season best 3:12.86.
Senior Radiance Basden competed in the women's triple jump championship and had a best mark of 40'5 (12.32m) to place 13th overall.
Stacee Roberts and Katie Vuckovich both threw season best marks in the women's weight throw to pace Carolina's throwers on the second day of competition. Roberts hit a mark of 52'8 (16.05m) and Vuckovich hit a mark of 51'9 ¼ (15.78m), while junior Breanna Radford had a best throw of 51'4 ½ (15.66m) on the day. On the men's side, Louis Day (15.58m // 51'1 ½) and Andrew Seay (15.51m // 50'10 ¾) both competed, placing 26th and 28th, respectively.
Liz Locke ran a season best time in the 800-meter dash after crossing the line at 2:20.04 in her second race of the weekend. Senior Kelsey McCorkle began the day for the women with a time of 25.11 in the 200-meter dash. Vince DePiano was the first Gamecock on the track Saturday and put up a time of 4:32.65 in the mile run.
"We had great efforts," Frye said. "That's all you can ask for. We're coming along. We're making mistakes, but you can see signs that we can be pretty good. We're maybe a year away from great, but we can be pretty good."
The Gamecocks will send split squads to Arkansas and Clemson next week as the teams participate in the Tyson Invitational and the Tiger Paw Invitational.
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