Erika Rucker Claims Bronze At IAAF World Juniors|
July 13, 2012
BARCELONA - South Carolina's rising sophomore Erika Rucker earned her first international medal and hit a personal best twice in two days after taking bronze in the 400-meter dash at the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships held at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, Spain.
Rucker blazed to a time of 51.10 in the final round Friday night to earn bronze and set a new personal best. The time would rank fifth in the all-time Gamecock record books as she becomes the first South Carolina athlete to medal at the IAAF World Junior Championships since Johnny Dutch took home silver in the 400-meter hurdles in 2008, and the trio of Antonio Sales, Shayla Mahan and Gabby Glenn earned gold as members of the Team USA relays the same year.
Prior to earning her medal in the finals, Rucker - the 2012 SEC Indoor Freshman Runner of the Year and three-time All-American - first ran what was at the time a personal best of 52.05 to run away with the top time of the semifinal.
"I felt really smooth," Rucker said after her semifinal race. "Coach told me to go out in the first 200 and move. Start felt good - I've been working hard on that for a couple weeks, just trying to keep my speed up. Yesterday, I felt like I didn't give my best effort, knowing I could possibly have two races to come."
Rising junior Jeannelle Scheper competed in the preliminary round of the women's high jump, representing St. Lucia in the competition. Scheper advanced to Saturday's final after taking 11th overall in the high jump at 6'0 (1.82m). Scheper had first-attempt clearances at 1.70m, 1.75m and 1.79m before clearing 6'0 (1.82m) on her second attempt to advance.
Incoming freshman Dondre Echols (Oxon Hill, Md.) placed sixth in the finals of the 110-meter hurdles at 13.71 as the only American to make it to the final round of the event.