GAINESVILLE, FLA. – The 2016 outdoor season ramps up in a big way for the Gamecock track and field program this weekend, as South Carolina heads to Gainesville for the 76th annual Florida Relays. The three day meet will be hosted by the University of Florida, and features most of the top programs in Division I as well as athletes from countries all around the world.
The meet begins Thursday afternoon with the Gamecocks competing in four events. For the men, Clarence Gallop and Kaleb Zuidema will compete in the hammer and javelin, respectively. The women will open the weekend on the track, starting with Precious Holmes andErika Rucker in the open 400m. To cap the night, Mary Reiser,Christine Kent and Monica York will run the 5,000m.
Day two will be the main day for individual action, with South Carolina competing in six field events (five for the women) and 11 races on the track. The final day of the meet promises to be thrilling from start to finish, as the relays take over Percy Beard Track all day Saturday. The Gamecocks are scheduled to run in the shuttle hurdle, sprint medley, 4×1, 4×2, 4×4 and 4×8 relays, with the men’s and women’s 4×4 invitational runs capping the weekend Saturday night.
Last weekend, the team competed at the Yellow Jacket Invitational Saturday on the campus of Georgia Tech. The Gamecocks won four individual events and two relay races on a packed day of events.
The meet began Friday night with just two events, the hammer throw and the 5000m. Clarence Gallop got the weekend started right with a new personal best in the hammer to finish third overall. The junior threw 212 feet, nine inches in his fourth attempt for his top mark of the night, adding seven inches to his previous best set last season. His throw keeps him firmly in fifth in school history, but it’s the best hammer mark by any Gamecock since Bert Sorin in 1999.
Carolina had a busy day two, but started things on the right foot with the women taking home the 4x100m relay. The quartet of Tyler Brockington,Briana Haith, Taranisha Taylor and Maiya Dendy ran 44.88 to win the race, followed by Gabby Gray, Alexis Murphy, Funlayo Oluwole and Makyla Stanley in third. The men went fourth and sixth with their two 4×1 teams. The women closed out the meet with another relay win, this time in the mile relay. Marisa Bellamy, Aliyah Abrams, Erika Rucker and Briana Haith won with a time of 3:35.22, beating out Clemson and Notre Dame.
“We’re trying to look for pieces, we don’t have one sensational athlete but we have a lot of depth,” head coach Curtis Frye said after the meet. “Our women’s 4×4 relay is getting pretty set, Erika stepped in today which gives us a lot of help. At this point in the season, we’re just trying to get as many bodies as we can ready to go.”
Aside from her win in the relays, Haith also picked up the women’s top individual finish of the day. The junior won the women’s 400, holding off Abrams at the tape for a winning time of 53.25 that was just four thousandths of a second off her personal best. Abrams held close the whole way, finishing in 53.29 in her first quarter mile race of the outdoor season. The two rank 10th and 11th in the country, respectively, and Abrams now has the second-fastest time by a freshman so far this spring.
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