Two Score and Three Advance for Gamecocks in SEC Outdoors Day Two
May 15, 2009
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Two Gamecocks scored points, three advanced to Sunday's finals and one bested her previous PR by over 17 feet as South Carolina finished the second day of competition at the SEC Outdoor Championships held at Percy Beard Track on the campus of the University of Florida.
Sophomore Michael Zajac became the first person to put the Carolina men's team on the board with a sixth place finish in the hammer throw at yet another regional qualifying mark of 203-11 (62.15m). An Indoor All-American in the weight throw this year, Zajac placed two spots higher than he did at last year's SEC Outdoors and will prepare to compete at the NCAA East Regional Championships that will be held in Greensboro, N.C. in two weeks.
"Mike getting sixth, he did a good job and did what the team needed him to do," throws coach Mike Sergent said. "The big thing was that two weeks ago he hurt his back in practice, and we didn't know what we'd get out of him in this meet. He had limited practice because we had to be careful. That was a real testament to his ability to compete and get himself together."
Junior Kettiany Clarke put the Gamecock women on the board with a seventh place finish in the women's heptathlon with 5,181 points. Clarke tied her personal best in the event to come away with three team points after two days of heptathlon competition. After completing four events Thursday, Clarke opened Friday with the long jump where she took seventh at 17-11 (5.46m) for 688 points. She also took seventh in the javelin throw with a toss of 92-02 (28.10m) for 441 points before closing the day with a sixth place finish in the 800m run at a season best 2:25.71 for 751 points.
"I'm just pleased out kids put it all on the line," South Carolina head coach Curtis Frye said. "Coach Dee got us off with the women's heptathlon. We expected more but this is a tremendous heptathlon, and KeKe had a strong effort."
Freshman Shantelle Patterson bested her previous PR by 17 feet to make the finals of the hammer throw in her first appearance at the SEC Outdoor Championships. The South Carolina native placed ninth overall at 167-02 (50.95m), her first time tossing over 50 meters, in a breakout performance after missing a lot of the year with injuries.
"Shantelle was someone that walked on un-recruited out of high school," Sergent said. "For her to come here and do what she did on this stage hopefully is a sign of things to come. It's tough for a girl that didn't place at the South Carolina high school state meet to get ninth at the SEC Championships, the best conference in the country. She didn't get to go to indoors because of injury, so this is her first SEC meet."
Sophomore Johnny Dutch took third in the 400m hurdles to qualify for Sunday's final with a time of 50.17. Dutch finished as runner-up in the event last year as a freshman and will look to earn his first SEC title with Sunday's final set for 7:05 p.m. Senior Keith Romero placed 15th at a lifetime-best 54.91.
Sophomore Antonio Sales ran a 20.94 to take fifth in the 200m dash prelims and qualify for Sunday's final. Classmate Eddie Stoudemire ran a 21.97 and Steve Hunsaker ran a 23.67 for the Gamecocks as well.
"Antonio Sales making the finals (was a highlight)," Frye said. "He came in seeded fifth and placed fifth. Now he has a great shot at winning it. Our kids are fighting and we have a lot of confidence in them."
Sophomore Janica Austin took sixth in the women's 400m hurdles to also qualify for the final. Austin won her heat at 1:00.56 to make it to Sunday's final round. Freshman Radiance Basden placed 11th at 1:01.94 and Clarke, competing in the open event after finishing the heptathlon, placed 13th at 1:03.09.
In the men's decathlon, the day started on the wrong foot when in the 110m hurdles Curt McGill pulled up on the fourth hurdle with a hip injury, preventing the senior from completing the event and causing him to pull out of the decathlon. Freshman Jerry Thompson III placed 12th in the decathlon with 5,752 points. Thompson opened with an eighth place finish in the 110m hurdles at 16.07 (725 points) before placing seventh in the discus throw and pole vault at 108-02 and 13-07.25, respectively. Thompson placed 10th in the javelin throw at 131-00 (39.92) before finishing at 5:45.74 in the 1500m run for 13th place.
"Curt got injured, which you feel for," Frye said. "He's given us everything, he works hard and he's scored at every SEC meet. This is his senior year and he was prepared to win it, and he gets hurt. That happens sometimes in life, and we didn't have any regrets."
Freshman Kelsey McCorkle placed 19th in the 200m prelims at 24.68.
Competition continues Saturday at 12 noon with the men's javelin throw. Running events will start at 6 p.m. with the men's 1500m preliminary round.