Gamecocks Advance Five to Finals at SEC Championships
May 16, 2008
Auburn, AL - South Carolina continued competition in the second day of the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships with five athletes advancing to Sunday's finals, KiKi Clarke finishing sixth in the heptathlon and Mike Zajec finishing eighth in the hammer with a personal best of more than eight feet.
"Our three guys ran 50 point low in the 400m hurdles and that's a first for us," said USC head coach Curtis Frye. "I am really proud of KiKi. She picked it up in the 800m. The SEC is by far the toughest conference in the country. Mike Zajec throws almost 200 feet in the hammer and all but three conferences in the country is would be a winner. The SEC is so tough."
Clarke finished the heptathlon by scoring 4967 points to finish sixth. Clarke has been battling injury all season. Curt McGill was ninth in the decathlon with 6620 points and Scott Pierce won the final event, the 1500m, and finished in 12th place with a personal best 6405 points.
Zajec threw an eight-feet collegiate PR at 198' 7 and finished eighth. His mark betters his own NCAA regional mark.
"That was the best hammer competition in this conference in 10 years. To throw an eight foot PR and finish eighth shows the strength of this conference," said throws coach Mike Sergent.
The Gamecocks put four 400m hurdlers in the finals with three men and one woman advancing. Jussi Heikkila (50.25) and Johnny Dutch (50.13) won their heats with Jason Richardson (50.38) finishing as the runner-up to Heikkila. It was a season PR for both Heikkila and Richardson who bettered their own NCAA times.
"I was just trying to qualify," said Heikkila. "I wasn't thinking about who was running with me - including Jason Richardson in this heat. There is a fast guy in every heat - this is the SEC meet. I really wanted to run 49. Today, but I have another race on Sunday. The PR doesn't feel as good because I have run :50 low for so many years, but you can't be too mad - a PR is a PR."
Trier Young advanced to the women's 400m hurdles by finishing as the runner-up in her race with a time of 1:00.02. Her time betters her own NCAA regional time.
Shayla Mahan won her heat of the 200m and advanced to the finals at 23.83. Her time is the fourth best on the day.
In the prelims of the 200m Lamar Markett was fifth in his heat of the 200m at 21.84 and Nick Lytle was sixth in the same heat at 22.63. Antonio Sales was third in his heat of the 200m at 21.78 and Jamil James was fourth at 21.88.