May 11, 2012
By Miquel Jacobs
BATON ROUGE, La. - Redshirt freshman Andrew Seay scored the first points of the meet for South Carolina, and a pair of sophomores earned berths in Sunday's finals as the Gamecocks continued competition Thursday night at the SEC Outdoor Championships held at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
Seay threw a personal best 152'8 (46.53m) in the men's hammer throw to place eighth overall and score the first points of the meet for the Gamecocks. The mark bested his previous personal best by nearly two meters as he continued South Carolina's seven-year streak of having a man score in the hammer throw at the SEC meet.
"Andrew did a great job," South Carolina assistant coach Mike Sergent said. "He competed very well and PR'd twice in the finals. That was about a seven-foot personal best. Anytime you come to the SEC Championships and put up a lifetime best with the pressure and the competition, that says a lot. He's only a redshirt freshman, so he's someone we look to in the future to develop. He showed a lot of strength and competitive spirit coming here and handling the pressure his first time out. Anytime you can get points on the board in an early event, it gets us a little momentum."
Sophomore Amber Allen ran a personal collegiate best in the 400-meter hurdles to take second in her heat and automatically qualify for Sunday's final. Allen placed fifth overall at 58.45, the 11th-fastest time in Gamecock history, to earn her finals berth in the intermediate hurdles for the second consecutive season. Freshman Tamera Harris also ran a personal collegiate best of 1:00.72 to place 12th overall.
Sophomore Chris Royster qualified for the men's 200-meter dash finals after placing seventh in the prelims with a time of 21.10. Royster will compete Sunday at 5:30 p.m. (CT) after making his first SEC final as a Gamecock. Freshman Eric Winfrey took 10th overall at 21.20, missing out on a spot in the finals by one position in his first SEC Outdoor Championships appearance, and classmate Damiere Byrd placed 13th overall at 21.34.
Freshman Sarah Graham concluded the final three events of the heptathlon competition and finished placing 10th overall at her first SEC Outdoor Championships appearance with 4,209 points. Graham opened the day jumping 16'0 ¼ (4.88m) in the long jump, hitting a collegiate best in the event for 527 points before moving into a tie for ninth overall in the standings with a throw of 60'2 (18.33m) in the javelin throw. Graham took sole possession of ninth place with her 800-meter dash performance of 2:31.99.
The women's hammer throw trio of Katie Vuckovich, Stacee Roberts and Breanna Radford placed 15th, 16th and 19th respectively in the rain-delayed event early Friday afternoon. Vuckovich and Roberts had identical throws of 144'05 with Vuckovich's mark representing a season best. Radford took one throw in the hammer at 109'3 before passing on her final two attempts as the junior prepares for Saturday's shot put competition. Radford enters the weekend ranked fourth in the league in the shot put.
Four Gamecock women competed in the 200-meter dash prelims with senior Kelsey McCorkle leading the way with a 10th place finish at 23.95, missing out on a finals berth by one spot. Vashti Bandy (24.83), Melekia Simpson (24.89) and Asia Delaney (25.15) finished 20th, 21st and 23rd overall.
A third Gamecock to place one spot out of the finals Friday was freshman Juan Stenner in the 400-meter hurdles. Stenner ran 52.13 to take 10th overall in the prelims in his first SEC Outdoor Championships. Sophomore Nejmi Burnside placed 18th at 54.49.
Senior Trey Suhrstedt took 14th overall in the men's hammer throw at 132'10 (40.48m) in his first SEC appearance as well.
South Carolina had a trio compete in the men's 800-meter dash as the freshman group of Kevin Keating, Isaiah Hilton and Thomas Gaither all competed in the first men's running event of the weekend. Keating ran a season-best 1:54.61, and Hilton ran a season-best 1:56.90, placing 25th and 28th respectively. Gaither took 30th overall at 2:00.83.
Competition at the SEC Outdoor Championships continues Saturday afternoon beginning with Emily Laurence in the women's javelin throw at 2 p.m. (CT).
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