Track hopes to build upon strong showing at Georgia meet
Before proceeding to the SEC Outdoor Championships in a couple of weeks, the Gamecock track and field team will travel to Philadelphia for the Penn Relays. The meet is a three-day event taking place today through Saturday.
USC is coming off a meet hosted at Georgia, where several Gamecocks fared well, including two wins in the high jump from junior Jeannelle Scheper. Sophomore Meredith Mill was also victorious, posting a 4:35.11 in the women’s 1,500-meter run.
The men’s 4×100-meter relay team of junior Chris Royster, freshman Kendall Kee, senior Andre Carter and sophomore Eric Winfrey will also look to win again in Philadelphia after a victory in Athens.
Eyes will be on freshman Jermaine Collier, who had an impressive meet in Athens, finishing third in the 110-meter hurdles and fourth in the 400-meter hurdles. The USC coaches are interested to see how he builds off his breakout performance in Philadelphia.
Senior Jarrod Hutchen finished third in the men’s long jump in Athens, posting a mark of 24-04.50 (7.43m). It was a solid performance, but Hutchen wasn’t completely satisfied.
“I could have done better,” Hutchen said. “I could have jumped way farther than I did. It was a learning process, so hopefully in the Penn Relays, I can jump farther than what I did last week. I’m very ready for Penn.”
Although USC coaches are encouraging their athletes to make Philadelphia the main focus, Hutchen said he is looking ahead a bit to the SEC championships, where the team’s performance matters the most.
“I have high hopes for us in SECs,” he said. “I think we can do better than what we did in indoor.”
Still, Hutchen said the coaches have been doing a good job of keeping the team’s focus on Thursday and just taking their performances one meet at a time.
“At Georgia, overall, I think the team did pretty well,” Hutchen said. “Everyone did what they were supposed to do. Everybody is working hard and staying focused because we all want do well at Penn.”
The senior long jumper also described how the runners and jumpers have different areas of concentration in practice this week. While the jumpers have focused on refining their technique, the runners have worked on speed and focus.
Hutchen said it meant a lot to him when he was selected to his first outdoor All-American team last year, but it might be even sweeter if the same thing happens for him this season, since this his last go-around.
“Being selected for that, it kind of showed me that I can be better than what I think I am sometimes,” he said. “I can do so much more if I keep working hard and getting stronger.”
Hutchen said he has a chance to win the long jump at the SEC Championships in Columbia, Mo., but he also thinks the Gamecocks, overall, have a good shot to place high.
“I think we can come in the top five in SECs,” he said. “We’re one of the good teams. We’re real young; we’re ready to go out there and work hard. We want to show teams that we are meant to be in the SEC and we are here to prove it.”