June 7, 2017
EUGENE, Ore. -- The University of South Carolina track & field team opened the 2017 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Wednesday night, the first of four days of competition at Hayward Field. Junior Isaiah Moore led the way on Wednesday, qualifying for the national finals of the 110m hurdles, while Markus Leemet got off to a great start in the decathlon and Carolina collected a pair of second-team All-America accolades.
Moore got out of the blocks quickly and closed strong to finish second in his heat and book a ticket to Friday's national final. His personal-best time of 13.47 was fifth-best among Wednesday's semifinalists and the sixth-fastest mark in Carolina history. He will run for the NCAA title at 6:12 p.m. PT on Friday night.
When Moore races on Friday night, he will have an opportunity to join a pair of Olympians and win Carolina's fourth NCAA title in the 110mH. Terrence Trammell won the national championship in the event in 1999 and 2000, and Jason Richardson added a third title in 2008.
Leemet is in ninth place midway through the decathlon, with 4,150 points. The redshirt junior set a PR in the long jump, a mark of 24-3 ¾, and he placed in the top-eight in three of the five events. Leemet is just 59 points out of eighth place and first-team All-America laurels with five events left, and he's 36 points ahead of his one-day total from the SEC Championships, when he went on to set a Carolina record with 7,720 points.
In the night's lone relay event, Carolina finished 15th in the 4x100m. DeVon Lewis, David Winters, Ryan Bermudez and Ncincilili Titi took fourth in their heat and 15th overall with a time of 39.40. The 15th-place result earned second-team All-America laurels for the quartet of Gamecocks.
Individually, Titi placed third in his heat of the 200m with a time of 20.52. The junior was unable to advance to Friday's final on time, but he finished 11th overall to earn second-team All-America honors. Counting his second-team award from the 4x1 earned earlier on Wednesday, the junior is now a six-time All-American.
Josh Awotunde took part in Wednesday's shot put competition, his third appearance at an NCAA Championships event. The junior came in 19th place overall, with a top mark of 60-9 ¼.
Armand Woodley made his NCAA Championships debut on Wednesday night, competing in the pole vault. Though he did not clear a bar in Eugene, the sophomore capped a tremendous season that included personal records in seven consecutive events and a fifth-place finish at the SEC Championships in May.
QUOTING HEAD COACH Curtis Frye
"It was outstanding to see Isaiah advance, finishing second in his heat to get one of the big automatic qualifiers into the finals. I am excited about that. Hurdling has always been something great for Carolina. He's got a good shot at finishing high in his race. Only one guy ran a particularly faster time than him tonight. He's in pretty good position to race for a championship, and we're excited about that."
"Markus is in good position to be a scoring All-American. He's got a really good shot tomorrow, because he throws the javelin well. He can get his discus going, and he always runs a good 1500. Markus is hanging tough. He came in seeded 10th, and he's number nine going into tomorrow, and he's a tough competitor. He's been here before, he's managed this meet, and we expect something good out of him tomorrow."
UP NEXT FOR THE GAMECOCKS
The NCAA Championships continue Thursday as the action shifts primarily to the women's competition. Rougui Sow competes in the long jump and joins the 4x100m relay quartet that includes Tyler Brockington, Maiya Dendy and Taranisha Taylor. Plus, Leemet competes in the final five events of the decathlon, and he starts the day at 10:30 a.m. PT.
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