For some, it’s unfinished business. For others, it’s their first shot on hallowed ground. Either way, for 16 South Carolina track and field student-athletes, competing at the Outdoor Nationals in Eugene, Oregon, this week is the opportunity of a lifetime.
“You can equate going to Eugene like going to Omaha for baseball,” the assistant coach said. Kevin Brown, which works with sprinters, relays and pole vaulters. “It’s the city of the track in the United States. They are thrilled about it. It’s something special for these student-athletes to go to the place that will host the World Championships this summer. It’s really special.
“It’s the national championships, so it’s the best of the best. Something absolutely has to be done to calm them down, relax and be confident in what they’ve been putting in all year. With this big group, I think that shows what we’ve done to try to build this program. We have student-athletes in a lot of different events. It just shows that we’re doing good things with the program, men and women.
High jumper in second grade Rachel Glen is back at the Outdoor Nationals for the second year in a row and knows she will have a big shot in the back after winning her event last year.
“I’m trying to go into it with the same mindset I had last year,” Glenn said. “Of course, there will always be nerves involved. I was nervous at regionals. I really try to stay focused on myself. When I’m worried about competing against other people, I ruin my whole routine It means a lot to come back I’ve been jumping on and off this year, the regionals were a really good competition for me, and I felt more like myself with my routine.
“This is my last college track meet, and I want to come out in style.”
– Destiny Rocker
Others have been there before and haven’t done as well as they had hoped.
“I didn’t race like I wanted to the first time I went to Nationals but the experience was definitely something to take away because now I know what I have to do this year,” said senior Stephanie Davis who is part of the 4×400 relay team and is in her third appearance at the outdoor national championships. “It’s definitely unfinished business. It’s not the end for me. I’ll be coming back to Eugene at the USTF Championships to try and qualify for the World Championships. It’s all about training and just preparing to be ready.”
“This is my last college track meet, and I want to come out in style,” senior said Destiny Rocker, who runs the 100-meter hurdles and had competed in national championships before when she attended Colorado State. “I want to set the school record, reach the American standard and the world standard. I didn’t do my best the last time I did nationals, but this year I expect to different results. It’s definitely a year of revenge for me.
“It’s important for me because last year I was injured and I had to watch it on TV. I knew I wanted to make it happen this year, and I did. Now I want to finish with a school record. My training went well. I’m in a better position than before.”
For others, getting to Eugene is a dream come true, but they’re not just happy to be there.
“Feels good,” Junior said Evan Miller, who will run the 200 meters and is part of the 4×100 relay team. “It’s been a good experience racing against the best competition in the country. I’m ready to see what I can do there. Competing in the SEC has definitely prepared me for that. I’ve done pretty well this season. I had the chance to race against some very big names.”
Miller is coming off a strong finish at regionals where he moved from seventh to second in his run in the final 50 yards to qualify for the NCAA championship for the second time this year after reaching the indoor championship earlier.
“It was a pretty stacked race in terms of competitors,” Miller said of the regional competition. “I said to myself at the start of the season that I was going to go to Nationals, so during the race I was just thinking about what I said. I don’t like to let myself down, so I did what I could .”
Each competitor has their own routine to prepare physically and mentally. Getting to meet Eugene is no small feat, and everyone is thrilled to have the chance to become a champion.
“It means you’re one of the best,” Davis said. “It means you are world class. When you line up against the top 12 or top 24 in the country, it means you are a world class runner and you are capable of accomplishing anything. The key for me to lead A good race is having a healthy mind. I just have to make sure when I race on the track that I tell myself to be brave, to be strong and to finish strong.”
“I think I’m pretty used to competition now,” Rocker said. “I’m not intimidated by other people. It’s mostly me against me.”
“The key to a good run is having bananas, blueberries and Pedialyte the night before,” Miller said.
“The keys for me are to focus on my same routine as last year, consistency, listening to my trainer and sticking to the same workout routine,” Glenn said. “I also look forward to the public.
The crowd was really hyped last year!”
GAMECOCKS IN NCAA OUTDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
Elisha Brooks (So.) – relay 4×100
Anass Essayi (Fr.) – 1500 meters
Anthony Greenhow, Jr. (Front) relay 4×100
Christian Lewis (So.) – relay 4×100
Jackson Marseilles (So.) – High Jump
Evan Miller (Jr) – 200 meters, 4×100 relay
Will Spencer, Jr. (So.) – 400 meters hurdles
Dylan Targart (Fr.) – Shot put
Stephanie Davis (Sr.) – 4×400 relay
Makenzie Dunmore (Sr.) – 400 meters, 4×100 relay, 4×400 relay
Frank Angel (So.) – 4×100 relay, 4×400 relay
Frasier Land (front) – relay 4×100,
Rachel Glen (So) – High Jump
Jayla Jamisson (Av.) – relay 4×100
Jahnile Register (Av.) – relay 4 x400
Destiny Rocker (Sr.) – 100 meters hurdles