May 12, 2012
By Miquel Jacobs
BATON ROUGE, La. - A large group of freshman and sophomores led South Carolina in day three of the SEC Outdoor Championships with record performances to score points and qualify for finals as competition enters its final day at the Bernie Moore Track Stadium.
The Gamecock women earned 20 points Saturday with half of them coming from its strong underclassmen group, including another school record performance by sophomore high jumper Jeannelle Scheper. Three Gamecock men hit personal bests in Saturday's prelims to qualify for the finals, including the sophomore duo of Clayton Gravesande and Chris Royster, and a pair of freshmen women topped the day by also qualifying for their running finals.
"Our kids are performing well," South Carolina head coach Curtis Frye said. "This is just a tough league. We're excited with what they're doing. Tomorrow we have a lot of things left. Chris Royster is coming through. He made two finals, and we're excited about that. Probably our biggest thing to happen today was Clayton Gravesande becoming a 45 second quarter-miler. 45.9 was good. Let's see if he can improve on that. We're hoping he didn't leave his championship race on the track. It's good to just have him break through and get to 45 seconds."
One day after assistant coach Mike Sergent's men's group extended its seven-year streak of having a thrower score in the men's hammer throw, his women's athletes responded by matching a Gamecock record with three athletes scoring in the women's shot put finals. Junior Breanna Radford, senior Stacee Roberts and freshman Kaysee Sullivan placed fourth, sixth and eighth, respectively, to add nine points to the women's team score. Radford threw 50'6 (15.39m) to score at the SEC Outdoor Championships for the first time in her career with a fourth-place finish. Roberts threw 47'10 (14.58m) for her best overall finish at the meet and third time scoring while Sullivan tossed 45'7 ¾ (13.91m) to score in her first appearance.
The Gamecocks have previously had three shot put scorers coming in a three-year span from 1996 to 1998. Crystal Brownlee, Lisa Misipeka and Dawn Ellerbe each scored in 1996 and 1997, and the trio of Brownlee, Misipeka and Michelle Fournier scored in 1998.
"Coach Sergent does a wonderful job," Frye said. "Those throwers are all coming around at the right time. We're really pleased. They were projected to score six points and they scored nine. We needed that to stay in the game. Last night we had a big performance by our hammer thrower. Andrew Seay came through and scored. So the throwers are holding up their end of things."
Jeannelle Scheper set the Gamecock outdoor school record in the women's high jump with a fifth-place finish at 6'0 (1.83m). Scheper was one of five athletes to top out at 6'0, but the All-American and indoor medalist was fifth in the tiebreaker due to misses during the competition. The sophomore from St. Lucia now holds both the indoor and outdoor school records at South Carolina at identical marks of 6'0 (1.83m).
Sophomore Petra Olsen took sixth in the women's pole vault with a clearance of 13'4 ¼ (4.07m) to put three points on the board for the Gamecocks. Olsen also placed sixth at the indoor championships this season.
"I'm excited about Jeannelle in the high jump and her coming through and Petra coming through in the pole vault," Frye said. "Those are two scores that got the women going today. That gives us three events where we scored along with the javelin throw."
Another sophomore, Emily Laurence, started the day for the Gamecocks and promptly put the first points on the board for the women's team with a seventh-place finish in the javelin throw. Laurence, who has missed the greater part of the season recovering from slight knocks, had a best throw of 137'6 (41.91m) to improve upon her SEC placement last season as a freshman. She became just the third Gamecock woman to score in the javelin throw in back-to-back seasons, matching the feat done by four-time medalist Candy Mitchell and three-time scorer Erin Narzinski.
Senior Beatrice Biwott placed seventh overall and scored a point in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:33.22. Biwott has scored all four seasons at the outdoor championships in the steeplechase, the first Gamecock in program history to do so.
Sophomore Clayton Gravesande put together his finest performance as a Gamecock Saturday after setting a new personal best in the 400-meter dash at 45.93 to automatically qualify for the finals with a third-place finish in the prelims. Gravesande's mark pushes him to fourth all-time in the Gamecock record books and 19th in the NCAA this season. Andre Carter took 17th at 47.76, Eric Winfrey was 22nd (48.26) and Nigel Redic was 29th (49.61).
Redshirt junior Robert Razick automatically qualified for the men's 1,500-meter finals for the second consecutive year after setting a new PR of 3:49.84 in the prelims. Razick, who ran the fourth-fastest time of the day, will look to become the first Gamecock to score in the event since William Emase placed sixth in 2003.
"We're excited about Robert Razick coming through," Frye said. "It's been a long time since South Carolina has had a 4:06 miler. We're hoping he can come back tomorrow and duplicate 4:06 and maybe run 4:04. That would be big for us to have a guy who came out of high school at 4:34 and dropped all the way to a 4:06 guy. That's phenomenal coaching."
Chris Royster qualified for his second final of the weekend after placing seventh in the 100-meter dash prelims at a personal best 10.34. Royster, who also will run in the 200-meter dash final tomorrow, sits 11th in the Gamecock record books with his run. Freshman Damiere Byrd took 11th overall at a season best 10.42.
SEC Indoor Freshman Runner of the Year Erika Rucker made the 400-meter dash finals after taking ninth in the prelims at 53.36. Rucker placed fourth overall in the event at the indoor championships and will look to score during the outdoor season as well. Nadonnia Rodriques placed 13th at 54.31, and Christal Green placed 26th at 55.79.
Freshman Chalese Davis qualified for the women's 100-meter hurdles after placing ninth in the prelims at 13.66, a season best in the event. Davis also competed in the long jump where she placed 16th overall after matching her collegiate best in the event at 19'0 (5.79m). Ceci Kryst took 17th overall at 18'11 ¾ (5.78m). In the men's long jump, Dorian Johnson was 13th at 23'0 ½ (7.02m), and Jarrod Hutchen was 18th at 19'2 ½ (5.85m).
"We had a freshman get in the finals of the hurdles in Chalese Davis, and another freshman in Erika Rucker got in the finals of the quarter-mile qualifier," Frye said. "We have kids coming through all over the place. There is a nucleus of kids who will be a great team in the future. We're young and they're nervous, but they're making a difference at this track meet. We're fighting to get ourselves from the bottom of the league. It's unfamiliar territory for us with our tradition, but this is our first stage moving out of that category."
Senior Chris Campbell placed 15th overall in the discus throw at 43.25m (141'11). The women's sprinting trio of Vashti Bandy, Asia Delaney and Melekia Simpson placed 17th, 18th and 19th in the 100-meter dash. Bandy ran 11.93, Delaney ran 12.12 and Simpson ran 12.15.
Competition at the SEC Outdoor Championships concludes Sunday afternoon beginning with Joshua Suttmeier in the men's javelin throw at 1 p.m. (CT).
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