May 26, 2017
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Friday was another strong day for the University of South Carolina track & field team, as the Gamecocks competed on the second day of the 2017 NCAA East Regional Preliminary Round. Josh Awotunde and Armand Woodley earned berths to the NCAA Championships, while three Gamecock teammates moved into the quarterfinal round with a chance to advance to Eugene on Saturday.
Awotunde (shot put) and Woodley (pole vault) join Markus Leemet (decathlon) and Rougui Sow (long jump) as Gamecocks headed to the national meet. Isaiah Moore has a chance to join them tomorrow after progressing out of the 110mH first round on Friday, while both Ncincilili Titi and David Winters earned the same opportunity in the 200m.
Awotunde finished seventh last season at the NCAA Championships in the shot put, and he will have an opportunity to improve on that finish next month. The junior was right on the border of the top-12 when he stepped in for his final regional throw on Friday, but that effort clinched a nationals spot with a mark of 61-11 ½. He qualified seventh at the East Regional.
Woodley cleared 5.00m on his first attempt and set a new PR when he got over 5.15m on the second try. The sophomore missed his first two attempts at 5.25m (17-2 ¾) but knew he needed the mark in order to stay in the running for Eugene.
Woodley came up clutch, clearing the height on the third try. He was one of seven vaulters to go out on 5.35m, with five qualifying spots available, and the Gamecock surpassed two competitors on misses to earn the final spot in Eugene. Not only did the attempt book his spot to nationals, it's also the sixth-best pole vault mark in Carolina history.
Moore was the first Gamecock on the track Friday, and he made it six track student-athletes in a row to advance out of the first round. The junior finished second in his heat and seventh overall with a time of 13.81 for an automatic berth in Saturday's quarterfinal with a trip to Eugene on the line.
Titi and Winters both qualified for Saturday's quarterfinals in the 200m to make the Gamecocks eight-for-eight sending runners past the first round. Titi grabbed an automatic qualifying spot, as he led the second heat from start to finish and stopped the clock in 20.40. That time turned out to be seventh-best in Friday's round.
Winters came in fourth in his heat, but his time of 20.80 was the 21st-best mark of the day. The senior will have an opportunity to qualify for Eugene on Saturday.
QUOTING HEAD COACH Curtis Frye
"Armand continues to amaze us all. Coach Brown feels like he's come a long way, and we're glad to have him come along at this time of year and make it to the national championship. He's a kid that loves his school, loves his coaching staff, and put in the hard work to advance to the NCAA Championships."
"Josh is struggling with a little bit of an injury, but when you're as good as he is, you're able to pull that out and put in a big throw to get to the NCAA Championships. Two weeks from now, he'll feel a little bit better, and we look for him to be a finalist."
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
The NCAA East Regional concludes on Saturday as the Gamecocks make one last push for the NCAA Championships. Events featuring Carolina student-athletes begin at 6 p.m., and Carolina will have six individuals and three relays competing for a trip to Eugene.
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