The Daily Gamecock

USC track posts 2 wins at invitational

	<p>Junior Jeannelle Scheper finished second in the Spec Towns National Team Invitational.</p>
Junior Jeannelle Scheper finished second in the Spec Towns National Team Invitational.

Junior Jeannelle Scheper takes 2nd in high jump in spite of injuries

As the Gamecocks prepare to travel to Columbia, Mo., for the SEC Outdoor Championships in early May, the team has one more meet to showcase their skills.

The Gamecocks were able to post 27 top-five finishes, including two wins, at the Spec Towns National Team Invitational hosted by the University of Georgia Saturday. Among the winners were Meredith Mill, who now ranks 10th on the South Carolina all-time list in the 1,500-meter run, and the men’s 4×100-meter relay team of Kendall Kee, Chris Royster, Andre Carter and Eric Winfrey.

The results in Georgia were ones coach Curtis Frye is proud of, as they closely resembled “national and conference-level performances.”

“Overall, I think it gave some of our student-athletes the chance to run and get themselves in position to make the traveling squad to the SEC Championship,” Frye said in an email interview. “We are not a reloader, we are a developer. Our athletes go from year to year getting better.”

Among those improving athletes is Jeannelle Scheper, a junior high jumper and CARIFTA gold medalist who bettered her outdoor mark of 6 feet in her season debut with 6-02.00 (1.88m) in the competition in Georgia.

Though she finished second in the invitational section, she was still the top collegian overall, despite some conflicts faced that day.

“I was battling an injury in my hamstring, and I hurt my ankle in the day,” Scheper said. “So, really it was about competing the best that I could.”

Though Scheper said she wasn’t at 100 percent in the competition, Frye said otherwise when describing her performance.

“Jeannelle’s opener in the high jump showed she was in good national form. She competed against an international girl and beat the entire collegiate field that included the next two best in the SEC. She was able to beat them, which helps your psyche when you have to compete against them later on in the year,” Frye said.

Scheper, who holds both indoor and outdoor school records, has received many awards as an athlete at USC. Last year, Scheper was a First Team All-American and the SEC Indoor bronze medalist.

Though she is focused on school, she says she does think about what it would be like to turn her college athletic career into something professional in the future. She also credits much of her motivation, and strong performance, to her family.

“My parents live in the Caribbean, and my brother lives in Harlem. I don’t really get to see them too much, but they always send me messages of encouragement,” Scheper said. “My mom talks to me every day, and my brother lets me know how proud he is of me.”

She also said her teammates are like family to her, as she gets to see them every day. The level of communication and togetherness is shown through many acts of support on and off the field.

“The track team is like a big family — we always wish each other good luck and cheer each other on,” Scheper said. “My coach usually writes me a note, usually a Bible verse, before a big meet to help me get through competitions.”

Frye, along with the rest of his coaching staff, sees great things in every athlete and is excited for the team’s future.

“They are on the verge of becoming national kids … [It’s] an exciting moment for us as a coaching staff,” Frye said. “We have kids that make the grades and are being the kind of citizens that we’ve invested in.”


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