March 8, 2013
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Junior Jeannelle Scheper took home a share of the silver in the women's high jump at the Randal Tyson Track Center on the first day of competition at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Championships. Scheper cleared 6-02.75 (1.90m) for the honor.
"This is a big payoff from a lot of hard work over the fall and the spring. I'm very happy to be here. Last year I finished eighth, this year I finished second, and that's a big difference. I'm excited to bring good news home and I'm just really excited to be in this position, because I was in the company of an Olympian. That means a lot to me and it just shows me how much further I can go," said Scheper of the night.
After passing at the first height, Scheper entered the competition that featured one of the deepest high jump fields in recent memory at 5'10" (1.78m). The St. Lucia native moved on after a second-attempt clearance. She cleared easily at 5'11" ¼ (1.81m) and then made it over on the second attempt of the next three bars.
With the bar set at 6'4" (1.93m), there were just three athletes left in the competition. Scheper was joined by 2012 Olympic silver medalist Brigetta Barrett from Arizona and Tynita Butts from ECU. Scheper and Barrett entered the competition tied for the collegiate lead at 6'3" ¼ (1.91m).
All three missed on their first attempt at 6'4", but Barrett, the two-time defending champion, found a way over on a bar-rattling second attempt. Both Scheper and Butts missed their next two attempts at the height, leaving Barrett to collect a third NCAA indoor high jump championship to go with her two outdoor gold medals. Scheper just narrowly clipped the bar on her three tries at the would-be record. After tying on misses, Scheper and Butts shared the silver medal.
A clearance at 6'4" would have rewritten the story on Scheper as it not only would have been a new personal best, but also would have reset the school record and the St. Lucia Junior National record which she already held.
Last year, Scheper became the first-ever Gamecock to qualify for the NCAA Championships in the high jump and earned an eighth place finish at the indoor event. She also became the first South Carolina athlete to earn an All-America certificate in the event, doing so in both the indoor and outdoor seasons. Just two weeks ago, Scheper became the first Gamecock to win a SEC high jump championship.
It is the second silver medal in as many years for South Carolina at the NCAA Indoor Championships, as pole vaulter Marvin Reitze took home the honor last year. Scheper's finish is the best for a woman in the Garnet and Black since LaKya Brookins' record-setting gold at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Also in action for the Gamecocks was sophomore Erika Rucker who was making her second NCAA Indoor appearance in the 400-meter dash. Despite running her second-fastest time of the season at 52.88, she just missed advancing to tomorrow's final by .03.
Senior Kierre Beckles ran the 60-meter hurdles at the NCAA Indoor Championships for the third time in her career at South Carolina. Beckles ran her second-fastest time of the season at 8.20, but did not advance to tomorrow's final after finishing sixth in her heat and 11th overall.
Senior long jumper Jarrod Hutchen, the lone representative from the Gamecock men's team in Arkansas, was the fourth South Carolina athlete in action on the first day of the championships. Hutchen was off his season best of 25'6" (7.77m), recording a jump of 24'7" (7.49m) on his second attempt to finish 12th overall.
Both Rucker and Beckles will run on the 4x400-meter relay tomorrow night at 9:05 p.m. ET. Junior Petra Olsen will also compete tomorrow in the women's pole vault, with competition slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET.
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