May 24, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A pair of first-year Gamecocks have punched their tickets to the NCAA Outdoor Championships after qualifying in their respective field events in the opening day of competition at the NCAA East Preliminary at Hodges Stadium on the campus of the University of North Florida. Redshirt freshman Joshua Suttmeier advances in the javelin throw, and junior transfer Jarrod Hutchen advances in the long jump to start the weekend for the Gamecocks.
Suttmeier was the first Gamecock to compete at the Preliminary Round and set a strong tone for the weekend by hitting a personal best and placing fourth overall in the men's javelin throw at 231'4 (70.53m). The mark gives Suttmeier a bid to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in two weeks at Des Moines, Iowa, making him the first Gamecock to advance to the final round since Erik Heymann also did so as a redshirt freshman in 2007. Suttmeier will attempt to become the first javelin thrower to earn All-America honors in program history in two weeks.
"It feels really good," Suttmeier said. "It was actually my mom's birthday today so I wanted to give her a good birthday present. It felt really good. I came in pretty confident. I felt like I'd practiced and thrown really well. So it feels good that all my good work has paid off, especially after being here all of last year."
It marks the second consecutive meet that Suttmeier has been able to improve his personal best in the javelin. At the SEC Outdoor Championships in Baton Rouge two weeks ago, Suttmeier improved his mark to 227'9 (69.42m) - on Mother's Day weekend - before coming out today to once again improve to 231'4 (70.53m) - on his mother's birthday. He continues to close in on Jason LaBabera's school record of 237'4.
"Coach Sergent and the weight room coaches and medical staff have done a really good job with me helping me peak at the right time at the end of the season," Suttmeier said. "It definitely feels like I'm finally coming into stride and hitting my best throws now. Hopefully in two weeks at Des Moines I can do the same thing."
Junior Jarrod Hutchen was the second Gamecock to earn his bid to Des Moines after taking seventh overall in the long jump at 25'0 (7.62m). Hutchen, ranked sixth in the NCAA this year in the event, hit 25 feet on his third attempt to secure his spot at nationals in his first season as a Gamecock. Hutchen is the first long jumper to advance since Greg Cryer did so in 2006.
"It feels real nice to do it in front of my team," Hutchen said. "That way I have something I can tell my family so they can be proud of me. I know my coaches are. Coach D was with me the whole way and I'm proud of myself for coming out here and doing it on this beautiful day."
The men's and women's quarter mile runners both qualified for the quarterfinals after their first round runs today. In the men's 400-meter dash, sophomore Clayton Gravesande ran 46.61 to place 14th overall, and in the women's 400-meter dash, freshman Erika Rucker ran 53.35 to take 15th overall.
Sophomore Chris Royster earned a quarterfinal berth in the 100-meter dash after running 10.50 in the first round. His quarterfinal run is scheduled for Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Freshman Juan Stenner advanced to tomorrow's 400-meter hurdle quarterfinal after taking 23rd overall in the first round at 52.58. Stenner will compete for a berth to Des Moines at 7:30 p.m. Friday night.
Junior Breanna Radford came inches away from qualifying for national's in the shot put after placing 15th overall at 51'0 ¾ (15.56m). Radford qualified for finals Thursday after improving on each of her first three throws but was nine inches short of the coveted 12-spot. Freshman Kaysee Sullivan took 41st in her first NCAA appearance at 45'1 (13.74m), and senior Katie Vuckovich followed at 45'0 ½ (13.73m).
Sophomore Amber Allen missed out on a berth in the 400-meter hurdles quarterfinals after falling on a tiebreaker for the last spot. Allen ran 1:00.03 to tie for 27th in the first round, but with only 27 athletes qualifying for tomorrow's quarterfinals, Allen took 28th overall by .007 seconds.
The Gamecocks continue competition at the NCAA East Preliminary beginning with the women's pole vault at 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon.
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