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Gamecocks Earn Four More Bids on Final Day of Regionals


The NCAA East Regional preliminary round came to a close Saturday, and the Carolina track and field team qualified for nationals in four different events. The men's 4x1 and 4x4 relay teams earned a bid, as did a pair of women's high jumpers. In all, the Gamecocks will send four individuals and two relay teams to the national meet in Oregon.

 Despite the absence of Dondre Echols and Eric Winfrey due to injury, the men's 4x1 team relied on senior leadership to punch their ticket to nationals and start the day strong for Carolina. Ryan Bermudez moved in to the group and ran the final leg, and seniors Chris Walker and Clayton Gravesande set him up for a strong finish with the middle legs. They would not leave their bid up to chance, finishing third in their respective heat to earn an automatic bid to Eugene, Ore. with a time of 39.60 that was close to a season best in the event.

 The women's 4x1 came close to joining them, but would miss out despite a season-best performance. With a time of 44.42 out of the first heat, the women would need to qualify as one of the three best times to not receive an automatic bid. It would come down to the final race, but they would be edged out by a hundredth of a second by Central Florida.

 In the final round of the hurdle events, Chalese Davis would come in 23rd overall for the 100, running a 13.68. In the men's 110, Isaiah Moore was pushed out of qualifying in the final race and finished 14th overall (13.92). Jermaine Collier finished behind him in 19th (14.04).

 The women's team earned its first qualifiers of the weekend via the high jump, putting through Jeannelle Scheper and Nakita Gray to nationals. Scheper would go without a miss until 1.82 meters, where she needed two tries. She would not have to attempt another bar, as she was one of only seven women to make the height. Gray would have to sweat out her bid as one of ten who finished at 1.79 meters, with only five spots remaining. She would qualify thanks to just one miss through the first four heights and will make her first trip to nationals.

 In the other field events, Natasha Dicks finished 27th in the triple jump (40-7.75) and Josh Awotunde took 22nd in the shot put (58-5.25).

 Closing out the night was the much-anticipated 4x400 relay, and the men again answered the bell despite the absence of Echols, Winfrey and Jussi Kanervo from the pool of available runners. Gravesande led off and ran out to a strong start, and through the first three legs the team sat in third. Bermudez, as he has done for much of the Spring season, closed the race with great results. He moved the team from third to second in the heat to clinch the automatic bid for nationals.

South Carolina Head Coach Curtis Frye
 Thoughts After the Weekend
It's just the beginning of the return back to greatness for this program. This team is a unit that shows what the university is all about. It has throwers and jumpers, blacks and whites, women and men, distance and sprints. It makes it easy for me when I have quality students and people when I come into an atmosphere like this and we didn't fold. We're beat up, but today's efforts have me overjoyed about what we've done and what we're going to do in the future.

On the Relay Performances
We ran 39.60 with two substitutes on it. We ran 3:05 missing a guy that can run 46 seconds in the 400 and not having to use Jussi so he can rest and be ready for nationals. We found something today in Ryan (Bermudez) as a sprinter. With Dondre coming back we can do some special things at nationals. Jermaine didn't make it in the hurdles and he could've put his head in the sand, but he didn't and got us through in the 4x4.

The NCAA Outdoor Championships begin June 10 in Eugene, Ore. and will run through June 13. For the men, Jussi Kanervo (400mH) and Markus Leemet (decathlon) will compete individually along with the two relay teams. For the women, Scheper aims for her first national title in the high jump and will compete alongside her teammate Gray.






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