June 13, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The South Carolina men's track team finished one of its finest seasons by tying a program-best with a sixth place finish Saturday at the NCAA Outdoor Championships at John McDonnell Field on the campus of the University of Arkansas. Anchored by 10 athletes earning a total of 13 All-America citations, the Gamecocks scored 33.5 points to match the 1999 and 2002 teams for the best outdoor finish in program history.
The women's team tied for 40th overall with 7 points as six athletes - five of them sophomores and freshmen - earned a total of nine All-America citations.
"Our kids fought a great fight against a lot of great schools," South Carolina head coach Curtis Frye said. "Sixth in the country with three teams tying, we really are excited and pleased with the efforts of our kids. We have a lot of should of, would of, could of's, but so do those teams: Oregon, one of the best track powers in the country, Florida, Florida State, Texas A&M and LSU. Then they say South Carolina. That's the company you keep in athletics. We lose 12 of our points, and we have a chance of being in the same conversation with those teams a year from now. We've made a move with our men's program. We're back again and our kids are buying in."
Heralded senior hurdler Jason Richardson concluded his Gamecock career with a total of seven All-America honors after earning the silver medal in the 110m hurdles Saturday with a time of 13.49. Teammate and freshman Booker Nunley earned his first All-America citation after placing sixth in the event at 13.84. The duo becomes the first group of Gamecocks to earn All-America honors in the 110m hurdles in the same season.
"Jason Richardson had a tough day and season, but I think he has a shot at running at the next level very well," Frye said. "He has some things to keep working at so he can stay in this game. Booker has had a great season. He's young and it's the wrong time to make a few mistakes, but overall it was great."
The men's mile relay team of Obakeng Ngwigwa, Johnny Dutch, Aaron Anderson and Quentin Moore came into the championships seeded sixth but ran the third-fastest time in program history at 3:02.88 to claim fifth place and solidify Carolina's overall team placement of sixth. They shed over one second off their posted time in the semifinals, which they ran at 3:04.01 to finish seventh on Thursday night.
"Our kids ran a great mile relay," Frye said. "OB led it off well and all of our kids ran 45 (second splits) with 45.6 for Johnny, 45.5 by Aaron Anderson and 45.8 for Quentin."
The women's mile relay team was seeded eighth and placed eighth to round out the All-America honors for the Gamecocks. Composed of Brandi Cross, Gabrielle Glenn, Breehana Jacobs and Porche Byrd, the Gamecocks ran a 3:34.70 in the final.
"Our women next year will have better leadership," Frye said. "We get some of our seniors back healthy in KeKe Clarke and Brittney James who should be in this meet. It's hard on young athletes without good seniors that can score in this meet. We're getting some of our kids up to juniors with Shayla Mahan, Gabby Glenn and Kya Brookins. Next year they'll be able to lead as well. We don't lose anybody that helped us this year on the women's side other than Liza Todd in the pole vault. We underachieved some on the women, but we probably overachieved on the men."
South Carolina earned a total of three medals at the 2009 championships: silvers in the men's 110-meter and 400-meter hurdles and a bronze in the women's 4x100m relay.
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