Jan. 10, 2018
2018 Track & Field Preview – Middle Distance and Distance
The University of South Carolina track & field team returns to action in January for head coach Curtis Frye’s 22nd season in charge. In the days leading up to the start of the 2018 season, GamecocksOnline.com will preview each section of the Carolina squad, taking a glance at key returners and highlighting key newcomers who could make their names as the next great Gamecock superstars. Today’s preview focuses on Carolina’s middle distance and distance runners.
FROM THE COACH
"Allie Mueller is coming off of an excellent cross country season, by far her best cross country season ever. Also, she was 14th in the SEC last year outdoors in the 1500 and just missed making the final. She ran a 4:31 PR, so we’ll be looking for her to make the final indoors in the mile and outdoors in the 1500.”
"Otis (Jones) will definitely be targeting making the SEC final, both indoors and outdoors in the 800 and then making it to Eugene outdoors in the 800. He’s had an excellent fall of training, and I’m optimistic that those are reasonable goals for him.” – Assistant Coach Andrew Allden
2017 REVIEW – MEN’S TEAM
Carolina’s middle distance squad was led by Otis Jones, who built on a promising freshman season to do even bigger things in 2017. Jones set an 800m PR at Clemson, running 1:49.67 to move into the school’s all-time top-five, and he added a top-20 effort at the SEC indoor meet. Outdoors, the Sumter native placed 12th at SECs and made the first cut at the NCAA East Regional.
Among the distance runners, Caron Strom’s 5000m time of 15:24.14 was the highlight, as it marked the 10th-best indoor mark in program history. Clay Cavanaugh set personal bests in both the mile and the 1500m, and Chad Evans ran his best time yet in the 3000m.
TOP RETURNER – Otis Jones
Jones showed substantial progress in his junior season, going under 1:50 for the first time indoors in the 800m and earning a pair of podiums in the 500m. Outdoors, he just missed out on scoring in the 800m at the SEC outdoor meet and made it to the second round at the NCAA Regional. More improvement as a junior could put Jones in the mix for points at the conference meets and a trip to Eugene.
OTHER KEY RETURNERS – MEN’S TEAM
Cavanaugh, Evans and Strom look to increase their improvements from 2017, with each student-athlete a candidate to make a dent on the Carolina record book. Senior Michael Elwood is also in the mix at middle distances.
KEY NEWCOMERS –MEN’S TEAM
Lexington native Blake Newcomb stayed close to home and was River Bluff’s team MVP in 2016 and 2017 after winning all-state honors. Austin Story hails from Virginia, where he won two state titles for Glen Allen High School. Redshirt freshman Justin Reed looks to make an impact after sitting out his first collegiate season.
2017 REVIEW – WOMEN’S TEAM
The Gamecock distance crew was once again led by departed senior Mary Reiser, who closed her final collegiate season out strong. Reiser won the 3000m at the USC Open and finished with three other podiums. At her final SEC Championships, she finished 21st in the 10000m.
Behind Reiser, a versatile group of underclassmen led the way. Maddie Beaubien made big strides in the 800m, running PRs indoors and outdoors. Allie Mueller just missed a scoring run at the SEC Outdoor Championships in the 1500m, placing 14th with a time of 4:31.35. Anna Kathryn Stoddard led the Gamecocks to a winning DMR at the Clemson Invitational and placed in the top-30 in the 5000m at the SEC outdoor meet.
TOP RETURNER – Anna Kathryn Stoddard
Stoddard enters 2018 off the momentum of not just her freshman track season, but also a strong cross country campaign as a sophomore. In her rookie season on the track, Stoddard’s top-20 finish at the SEC indoor meet led Carolina in the mile, and outdoors she qualified for the USATF Jr. Championships in the 5000m. In cross country, she led Carolina’s squad in each of her five appearances, broke the 22-minute mark for the first time in the 6K and finished in the top-50 at the SEC Championships. She could contribute anywhere from the mile to the 10K for Carolina this season.
OTHER KEY RETURNERS – WOMEN’S TEAM
Mueller also upped her game in the recently-concluded cross country season, including new PRs at 5K and 6K and earning a 54th-place finish at the conference meet. That came on the heels of a 2017 track win at the USC Open and a 14th-place 1500m result at SECs. She will be in the mix for conference points this season.
Beaubien should also be near the front of the pack at 800m, while Emily Crounse, Colleen Openshaw, Sarah-Sims McGrath and a host of others look to improve on promising 2017s. Senior Kaylee Wessel, who missed 2017 while studying abroad, is also a factor after running well in the cross country season.
KEY NEWCOMERS – WOMEN’S TEAM
Many of Carolina’s newcomers have already shown flashes of brilliance after running a season of cross country. Heather Stone was Carolina’s top freshman finisher in five of her six events, and she was an all-state honoree on the track as a high school athlete. Brooke Wilson was a two-time Illinois top-five high school finisher at 3200m. Pennsylvania native Rachel Hensler was her Seneca Valley High School’s female athlete of the year as a senior. Kylee Yturralde joins the squad after a team MVP season competing for California’s Camarillo High School.
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