Feb. 26, 2012
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By Miquel Jacobs
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Three Gamecocks combined to earn three medals and one school record to conclude the final day of competition at the 2012 SEC Indoor Championships. Kierre Beckles and Marvin Reitze both earned silver, and Jeannelle Scheper earned bronze to lead the Gamecocks.
"The SEC is a team event," South Carolina head coach Curtis Frye said. "We had a lot of good individuals and some great performances. Kierre had a great performance and so did Marvin in the pole vault. Jeannelle did a good job in the high jump. We had some signs there of promise. We finished number nine on the men and 10 on the women, two points from eighth place. We have to roll it up and see if we can go to nationals and get in the top 25 with our women's team and see if Marvin can score."
Senior Kierre Beckles had yet another record-breaking day, something that has become a regular occurrence for the hurdler from Pinelands, Barbados. Beckles placed second overall in the 60-meter hurdles Sunday, but it was her time of 8.11 that she can be proud of heading into NCAA's. Her time set a new Barbados national record as well as a new South Carolina program record, matching the 8.11 that Olympian Lashinda Demus ran in 2004.
"After yesterday's run, and it was a pretty good run at 8.3 for my first round, I kind of felt bad and upset," Beckles said. "Today I focused on exactly what I did last week at our home meet, visualized every step I did, and just tried to calmed down, get out there and execute. Running 8.11 and equaling Lashinda Demus's record, I'm happy about that because she's a great hurdler. Having a PR and moving up in the standards nationally feels great."
Marvin Reitze continued his SEC medal streak by earning silver medal honors in the men's pole vault competition. Reitze, who earned bronze medal honors at the 2009 and 2010 SEC Indoor Championships before missing the 2011 championships due to injury, cleared an indoor personal best of 17'11 ¾ (5.48m) to continue South Carolina's impressive form at the SEC Indoor Championships. The Gamecocks have had at least one man medal in the pole vault every season since 2009.
Reitze was in a two-man battle with Arkansas's Andrew Irwin for the top crown. Both were perfect with first-attempt clearances at every bar from 17'0 (5.18m) to 17'11 ¾ (5.48m) before missing on their first attempts at 18'1 ¾ (5.53m). Irwin cleared the bar on his second attempt, and Reitze missed his final attempt after moving the bar up to a would-be collegiate leading mark 18'1 ¾ (5.53m) to finish second.
"I'm actually pretty happy," Reitze said. "I PR'd after six years, so I have to be satisfied with that. Although I placed second, it was a really good meet. We had two guys at 5.48 (meters) and it came down to 5.53 (meters). I actually moved to bigger poles and jumped with a pole I've never jumped with before. I blew it away. That was the problem at the final height because I wasn't able to clear that, but it was good preparation for nationals. We have two weeks left, and I think I'm set up for that. Although I didn't jump the automatic, I think I can say I'm going to nationals and I'm happy about that. It's my first indoor nationals, so I'm ready."
The Gamecocks earned a final medal from 17-year old sophomore Jeannelle Scheper, the St. Lucia native who holds the South Carolina program record. Scheper became just the second Gamecock woman to medal in the high jump at any SEC Championship - indoor or outdoor - when she cleared 5'11 ¾ (1.82m) on her first attempt. Scheper's bronze medal now gives her the distinction of having not only the top mark in school history but also the top SEC finish in school history after matching the bronze medal finish that Monica Bozinski earned at the 2005 SEC Indoor Championships. Freshmen Sarah Graham and Tamera Harris both cleared 5'4 ¼ (1.63m) to tie for 21st.
"The first two bars, my nerves were getting to me a bit, but as the competition progressed I got more focused and knew what I had to do," Scheper said. "My coach told me to just calm down. I got over on my first attempt because I had my thoughts together. I was happy about my performance. I felt like I could have done better. I wanted to hit an automatic (qualifying mark), but I feel like I'll still make it to nationals, so I'm happy with my performance."
Freshman Erika Rucker placed fourth overall in the women's 400-meter dash at a personal best time of 53.08, continuing South Carolina's strong string of quarter milers.
Senior Radiance Basden became the first Gamecock to score in the women's triple jump at the SEC meet since 2006 with her fifth-place finish. Basden had a top mark of 41'5 ¼ (12.63m) to take fifth overall, and junior Ceci Kryst placed 20th at 36/8 ½ (11.19m).
The men's distance medley relay team of Vince DePiano, Chris Walker, Thomas Gaither and Robert Razick ran the third-fastest time in school history to place fifth overall at 9:59.81. It was the top finish for the DMR at the SEC Championship since the 2005 team took fourth.
Freshman Damiere Byrd officially made his mark as a member of the Gamecock track program with his sixth-place finish in the 60-meter dash final with a time of 6.78. A two-sport athlete who spent the fall with the South Carolina football team, Byrd's finish in the 60-meter dash marked the first time a Gamecock scored in the men's event since the 2009 SEC Indoor Championships. His finish is also the top performance by a freshman in the short sprint since Terrence Trammell brought home silver medal honors in the 55-meter dash at the 1998 SEC Indoor Championships.
"We had great performances out of freshmen," Frye said. "Erika Rucker did a good job getting fourth in the open 400. We're proud of the kids. We have a lot of returners and have a chance of being better outdoors. We're always a little better outdoors. We hope to get top six or seven outdoors at the SEC meet on both sides."
The women's 4x400-meter relay team of Nadonnia Rodriques, Erika Rucker, Kelsey McCorkle and Amber Allen finished sixth overall 3:38.70, and the men's 4x400-meter relay team of Clayton Gravesande, Eric Winfrey, Juan Stenner and Andre Carter placed eighth at a season best time of 3:11.78.
In the women's weight throw competition, Breanna Radford, Stacee Roberts and Katie Vuckovich finished 16-17-18 with throws of 52'3 ¼ (15.93m), 52'1 ¾ (15.89m) and 51'9 ¾ (15.79m). Freshman Kaysee Sullivan took 20th overall at 48'3 ½ (14.72m).
The Gamecock men's team finished ninth in the overall standings with 18 points. The women's team finished 10th in the overall standings with 31 points.
The Gamecocks will travel to NCAA Last Chance Meets at Iowa State and Virginia Tech next weekend before bids are announced for the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships that will be held in Nampa, Idaho from March 9-10.
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