April 28, 2012
By Miquel Jacobs
PHILADELPHIA - Senior Marvin Reitze capped South Carolina's weekend at the 118th Penn Relays in record-setting fashion by winning the men's pole vault championship at a school record 18'1 (5.51m). For his efforts, Reitze was named the Outstanding Men's Athlete of the Meet, presented by the Philadelphia Sportswriter's Association to one individual event athlete each year.
In 53-degree weather at Franklin Field, Reitze breezed through the competition Saturday afternoon, besting the second-place finisher by over one foot in the competition. He became just the ninth person to ever clear 18 feet at the Penn Relays and the first to do so in 10 years. He is the second Gamecock to win the pole vault (Dale Gerke - 1987), and is also the second Gamecock to ever be named the Penn Relays Outstanding Male Athlete of the Meet (Terrence Trammell - 1999).
"I always enjoy jumping here," Reitze said. "The crowd is awesome. It's a great atmosphere and loud. It's not comparable to any other meets we usually go to. The crowd really helps to push you further. I'm just happy with the height and the place. I pushed myself and jumped a school record. I'm happy about that, but I definitely should go higher the next couple of weeks."
The vault bests his indoor school record of 18'0 ½ (5.50m) that the German national set at the NCAA Indoor Championships nearly two months ago. With his name firmly atop the Gamecock ledger for both the indoor and outdoor seasons, Reitze will look to the next month of competition to improve his performance and hopefully earn a qualifying mark for the German championships in anticipation of an Olympic bid. Reitze's jump Saturday pushes him to third overall in 2012 for German pole vaulters.
"It's prefect timing," Reitze said of hitting 18 feet at this point of the season. "I'm confident on the runway. We still have to work on a couple of things. My practices the last couple of weeks were awesome. I kind of knew that I was capable of jumping that high. I'm ready for SEC's, regionals and NCAA's."
The performance caps a record-setting weekend for the Gamecock vaulters under assistant coach Kevin Brown. Thursday morning, sophomore Petra Olsen won the women's college section and in the process set a Penn Relays college section record in the event at 13'4 ¼ (4.07m).
"We planned this weekend to be setup to jump well," Brown said. "Penn Relays is a tough place to jump because it's not the ideal conditions in the pole vault. We just talked about it in practice and prepared ourselves for it. The biggest thing about it today is their toughness. They came in and competed very hard. A lot of vaulters would fail based on the conditions. By them being tough competitors and coming out with good jumps, that says a lot about them and where they are right now in their training - not just physically but mentally. We're excited about that. Those guys came through on a big stage, so it sets them up perfectly for conference championships."
Dorian Johnson took a runner-up finish in the men's triple jump with a best attempt of 49'1 (14.96m). In the throws, Joshua Suttmeier placed sixth in the javelin throw championship at 219'10 (67.03m), and Andrew Seay took 15th in the hammer throw at 169'11 (51.81m).
The Gamecocks also had success on the track with the men's 4x200-meter relay team of Damiere Byrd, Chris Royster, Clayton Gravesande and Eric Winfrey taking third in the Championship of America final in front of a nationally-televised audience. The quartet ran 1:23.24, the seventh-fastest time in program history, to continue the tradition of excellence for the Gamecock men in the non-traditional event.
The men's 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relays were not as fortunate. Difficulties over the final 200 meters slowed the 4x100-meter relay team from first to fifth place at a time of 40.78 before the team was later disqualified for bumping Texas. In the final Gamecock event of the day, the 4x400-meter relay team was battling for third over the final 200 meters before the anchor was clipped. The team went down as a "DNF".
South Carolina travels to North Carolina and Clemson next week before heading to Baton Rouge, La., to compete at the SEC Outdoor Championships from May 11-13.
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