Gamecocks Race to Second at Eye Opener Invitational
Sept. 6, 2008
The course was still shrouded in darkness, as the Gamecocks arrived at 6:30 a.m. for their 8:00 a.m. race at the Eye Opener Invitational. They toed the line with racers from 35 universities from throughout the southeast. Tropical Storm Hannah spared the course at the Milliken Center in Spartanburg. The course was dry and the temperature was 75 degrees when 1964 Gold Medalist Billy Mills triggered the starter's gun. Like a thundering herd of mustangs, over 300 runners took off. Freshman Beatrice Biwott forged her way into the lead at the 400 mark. She was joined by a small pack of four. The following pack of 30 included sophomore Ashley Evens and freshman Shannon Walls. The main Gamecock pack was farther back and starting to work their way towards the front of the race.
At the mile mark it was a three person race with Biwott still in front and Emily Tangwar from USC Upstate on her shoulder with Lauren Tomory of Furman following closely behind. Walls was in the top twenty and Evens in the top thirty, with the Gamecock pack of juniors Danielle Barnes and Lisa McKinney and freshmen Elizabeth Heath and Erin Fedewa in the top 60. The team battle was close as South Carolina, Furman, Clemson and Davidson all had their top five to seven runners spread throughout the top 60. Davidson and Furman had three in the top 15. Clemson had a large pack just behind the South Carolina pack.
At the two mile mark, Biwott was still holding off Tangwar and Tomory. Barnes had moved into the top 30 with Evens and Walls in the top 20. The third Gamecock group had moved into the top 40. With 1200 meters left, Tangwar surged past Biwott with what proved to be the decisive move, as she raced on to victory. Biwott held onto to second until Tomory sprinted past her 70 meters from the finish. Barnes and Walls placed 17th and 18th. Clemson had steadily moved through the racers and had their pack all finish in the top 11, earning them the team victory. The Gamecocks were still fighting for second. It would come down to their pack of three - McKinney, Heath and Fedewa. They passed more racers on the final uphill 800 meters, placing 28th, 29th and 30th, giving the Gamecocks a total of 82 points and earning them second place in the team race.
"It was a good team effort today," said head coach Stan Rosenthal. "Beatrice Biwott raced very well. Our pack was still close. For us to compete well in the SEC's we must close the gap to our front runner. Today was another good step in the right direction. Four teams behind us today, defeated us last year. I am very happy with the team's attitude and work habits."
In the women's race, Clemson won the team, while Emily Tangwar of USC Upstate took individual medalist honors.
The Gamecocks will take a week off before heading to Rock Hill, S.C. on Sat., Sept. 20 to compete at the Asics Winthrop Invitational.