Gamecocks Compete at Last Chance Meets
March 4, 2006
The South Carolina men's and women's track and field teams competed at Last Chance meets in Ames, Iowa and in Blacksburg, Va. Saturday afternoon with an eye on securing a spot in next weekend's NCAA Indoor Championships.
"It was a good day for the Gamecocks," said Carolina head coach Curtis Frye. "We had some very strong performances, both in Ames and in Blacksburg, which helps as we look forward to next weekend."
In Ames, Shay Shelton, who won the Southeastern Conference title at 800 meters last weekend, turned in her best time of the season, winning the event in 2:06.05, nearly a second faster than her previous best time of 2:07.00. The effort appears to have pushed the junior half-miler high enough on the descending order list to punch her ticket to Fayetteville for next weekend's championships.
"Shay beat a lot of people that were higher than her on the list," said Frye. "That puts her in good shape for the nationals."
Senior sprinter Leroy Dixon ran a season-best 21.01 in the 200-meter dash to earn a second-place finish. His time was a .05-second improvement over his previous best mark of 21.06, which ranked in a tie for sixth in the nation entering the day's competition. Dixon also ran times of 6.81 and 6.75 in the 60-meter dash on Saturday.
"That makes him a solid top seven in the 200 heading into the NCAA meet," said Frye.
Natasha Hastings also turned in a strong performance in the 400 meters, finishing fourth in a season-best time of 53.88 seconds to put her on the NCAA bubble. Her previous fastest time this season was 54.31, which ranked 25th in the nation.
Keith Hinnant, who finished second at the SEC meet in the 400 meters last weekend, finished second again today in a time of 46.76 seconds. He entered the day with the nation's 15th-best time of 46.73.
Meanwhile in Blacksburg, Jason Richardson looked to be rounding back into national-caliber shape, as he broke the tape in the 60-meter hurdles in a season-best time of 7.83 seconds in the finals after running a 7.98 in the prelims. His previous best time was 7.87 seconds this season.
"They only take 14 (to the NCAAs), so I think he will be just miss qualifying," noted Frye. "But the way he and Natasha (Hastings) are coming around, it bodes well for the outdoor season."
Chelsea Hammond looked to have re-gained the form she showed in the long jump competition earlier this season, as she won the event with a leap of 6.37 meters (20-10.75). She figures to be in the mix to score points at the NCAA meet in both the long jump and pentathlon events next weekend.
"That puts Chelsea back in the game in the long jump," said Frye. "It also helps her in the heptathlon. She's feeling much better and could finish in the top five or six at nationals in both events. That would help us out a lot in the team scoring."
Carolina's standout sprinters, Amberly Nesbitt and Shalonda Solomon tuned up for next week's meet by finishing one-two in the 60-meter dash prelims in times of 7.30 and 7.32 seconds, respectively. Nesbitt owns the nation's second-fastest time at 60-meters, while Solomon holds the top time in the 200 this season. Both will be among the favorites to take home gold medals in their respective events next week.
Greig Cryer had a big day in the triple jump competition, finishing second with a season-best mark of 15.98 meters (52-5.25). That effort pushes him into the top 10 on the NCAA list and was a big improvement over his previous best mark of 15.64 meters. Cryer will also compete in the long jump at the NCAA meet, as he ranks in the nation's top 10 in that event as well.
Other strong performances on Saturday came from Ronnetta Alexander in the 60-meter hurdles (2nd-8.17), Brittney James in the long jump (4th-6.07m), and Kemesha Whitmire in the triple jump (5th-13.02m).
The final NCAA qualifying list will be announced early next week, with the championships set to begin in Fayetteville on Friday, March 10.
Ames, Iowa (Iowa State):
60-meter dash (prelims): 3. Leroy Dixon 6.81q.
60-meter dash (semifinals): 1. Leroy Dixon 6.75q.
200-meter dash: 2. Leroy Dixon 21.01.
400-meter dash: 2. Keith Hinnant 46.76.
400-meter dash: 4. Natasha Hastings 53.88.
800-meter run: 1. Shay Shelton 2:06.05.
Blacksburg, Va. (Virginia Tech):
60-meter dash (prelims): 7. Nick Lytle 6.94q.
60-meter dash (finals): 6. Nick Lytle 6.91.
800-meter run: 4. Johnny Baez 1:54.09.
Weight Throw: 3. Brook Antonio 19.67m (64-6.50).
Pole Vault:5. Cheryl Terrio 3.80m (12-5.50).
Triple Jump: 5. Kemesha Whitmire 13.02m (42-8.75).
Florida Fast Times (Friday):
Weight Throw: 2. Brook Antonio 19.49m (63-11.50).