South Carolina Athletics
NEW YORK CITY — In the bright lights of New York City at The Armory, South Carolina senior Lakya Brookins lined up for the 60-meter dash final at 7:57 p.m. and less than eight seconds later looked up to see that she had become the NCAA leader in the event for the second time this season.
Having previously held the national lead after the opening weekend of the season, Brookins dropped to third overall the past two weeks. Running in a stacked field of national championship contenders for the second consecutive week, Brookins put her hard work in practice to task and became the third Gamecock to win the 60-meter dash at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational with her time of 7.18, following the path set by former NCAA champions Miki Barber (2001 – 7.45) and Amberly Nesbitt (2006 – 7.24).
“I was feeling it,” Brookins said “I was trying to get there. I’ve been working hard all year. The time shocked me. I didn’t think I would run that this soon, but I’m not complaining. Hopefully come SEC’s and NCAA’s I’ll do better and show everyone that I can do this and I’m ready.”
An NCAA champion herself, having won the NCAA title in 2009 at a career best 7.13, Brookins has further positioned herself for a chance to reclaim gold in five weeks and came one-hundredth of a second away from setting a new meet record that is held by Kelly-Ann Baptiste at 7.17.
“I was expecting to do great,” Brookins said of what has been an exciting senior season so far. “I wasn’t expecting all of those. I can say I’ve been working hard and this is what I’ve dreamed about. All the pain at practice and everything I’ve put into it is paying off. I couldn’t ask for a better year. This time last year I got second at this meet. Now I’m feeling stronger than ever and have great support around me.”
Gabrielle Glenn, a teammate and fellow senior, also made noise on the track with an eighth-place finish at 7.34. What makes Glenn’s race so impressive is that it was her first time on the track this season after missing the first four weeks to illness.
“Coach Brown just told me to go out and do what I knew what to do,” Glenn said. “I just tried to focus and go run my race.”
“Gabby being sick the last three weeks set her back,” South Carolina head coach Curtis Frye added. “Right now opening at 7.34 is good. Next week if we can get another run like that (we’ll be good). The women in that race are the one’s that will be running for SEC Championships and it will be a battle to make the finals in the SEC’s. It will take a sub-7.30 and Gabby knows she’s there now.”
Freshman Sanura Eley-O’Reilly kept alive the Gamecock tradition by making it to Saturday’s final round in the 400-meter championship. Eley-O’Reilly qualified for the final after placing 11th at 55.32, giving the Gamecocks a quarter-mile finalist in all 11 years of the New Balance Collegiate Invitational. Classmate Amber Allen took 30th overall at 57.00.
Sophomore Lincoln Carr put in a strong performance in the men’s long jump in hitting a new personal best at 23’3 ½ (7.10m), placing eighth overall in the process. Freshman Dorian Johnson was two inches shy of his season best as he finished 12th overall at 22’5 ¼ (6.84m).
The Gamecock women’s shot putters proved to be at the top of the pack Friday with two advancing to the finals and the third placing 12th overall in a field of 49. Stacee Roberts hit a season best with a throw of 47’5 ¼ (14.46m) to place sixth overall – fifth among collegiate competitors. Breanna Radford placed eighth at 46’10 ¾ (14.29m) while Katie Vuckovich took 12th at 45’10 ½ (13.98m). The men’s shot putter both put up season highs with Louis Day throwing 50’6 (15.39m) and Andrew Finley throwing 49’10 (15.19m).
Senior Ashley Evens was the first Gamecock on the track and set the tone for a positive day with a new personal best in the 3,000-meter run at 10:08.29. Evens placed fifth overall in the race, an improvement of 16 spots and 26 seconds from her race at the same meet last season. In the women’s 1000-meter run, Laura Pramstaller ran a season best at 3:01.57 to place 30th.
The women’s distance medley relay team of Liz Locke, Amber Allen, Sierra Henderson and Beatrice Biwott took fourth overall with a good race that saw the Gamecock women in the top five for the duration of the race.
Janica Austin won her heat in the 60-meter hurdles championship prelims at 8.55 to place 18th overall, and Kierre Beckles ran 8.59 to place 21st. On the men’s side, Jerry Thompson III ran 8.46 to take 24th; Chris Sharp finished 29th at 8.84.
Andre Carter and Clayton Gravesande took 26th and 28th, respectively, in the men’s 400-meter championship prelims with times of 49.20 and 49.28, while Chris Maxwell hit a new personal best at 49.67.
Maxwell also hit a new season best in the 60-meter dash at 7.10 to place 12th overall. Shortly after, freshmen Nejmi Burnside and Alex Loose hit the track with the 400-meter college division prelims. Burnside placed 45th overall at 50.47 while Loose took 60th at 51.71 in his first of three races on the day. Loose then competed in the 200-meter college prelim less than an hour later, taking 54th at 23.80. In his final event of the day, Loose took 23rd in the 500-meter dash at 1:08.03.
Sophomore Robert Razick placed 26th in the men’s 1000-meter run at 2:31.47, and women’s counterpart Laura Pramstaller placed 30th overall at 3:01.57. A pair of men’s freshman competed in the 60-meter dash championship prelims as Chris Royster (7.03) and Eyong Oma (7.16) took 34th and 42nd. The high jump saw Kayla Blake and Staley Foster both clear 5’5 (1.65m) to finish in a tie for seventh.
“We got a lot accomplished and a lot of kids got experience,” Frye said. “It’s a tough meet. We had good highlights from Gabby Glenn and Lakya Brookins making the finals. Kya winning at 7.18 against a great field was our highlight. Two girls in the finals of the shot put was great. Stacee Roberts did a good job and we had a good performance from Breanna (Radford). The girls in the high jump did well to jump 5’5 again. Lincoln came back and jumped 23-feet in the long jump which we’re happy about on the boys side. Overall it was ok. It’s not one of our excellent days, but it was OK for the group.”
South Carolina returns to action tomorrow morning in the final day of competition at the New Balance Collegiate. Nicole Rheinlander will get things started with an 8:55am race in the 5,000-meter run.