COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina senior LaKya Brookins qualified for the 100-meter dash finals to lead a quartet of Gamecocks that hit the track on the first day of competition at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Brookins ran 11.33 to take sixth overall in the semifinals and earn a spot in Friday's final. She is one of three runners from the SEC to qualify for final and will enter her final collegiate race as a favorite to claim the national title, a feat that could make her the first Gamecock to sweep the 60-meter and 100-meter national titles in one season.
"I'm feeling pretty good about it," Brookins said. "Thank God that by the time we came out the rain stopped and didn't affect us too much. The ground was still wet but it's not a big deal. I'm just happy to run another day. This is my first and last outdoor NCAA (meet as an individual), and Friday I'm just going to give it all that I can."
Two hours earlier, Brookins ran the leadoff leg for the 4x100-meter relay team that ran a season best time of 43.72 despite not advancing to the final. The team of Brookins, Vashti Bandy, Gabrielle Glenn and Shayla Mahan finished 10th overall in the semifinal round.
"For us not to make it in the relay is heartbreaking, though we ran our fastest time of the year," Brookins said. "I wish we would have made it, but everyone gave it all they could."
The men's 4x100-meter relay team took 11th overall in the semifinals. The team of Chris Royster, Chris Maxwell, Clayton Gravesande and Antonio Sales ran 39.50, narrowly missing out on a bid to the finals.
Junior pole vaulter Marvin Reitze made his first return to nationals since placing fourth as a freshman in 2009. After battling injuries throughout the 2010 and early 2011 seasons, Reitze was the first Gamecock to hit the track in Wednesday's opening round and had a top clearance of 17'2 ¾, but missed out on scoring a point due to a tiebreaker on total misses. Reitze was one of 11 vaulters to clear his height and only three vaulters had a better showing in the meet, but the junior tied for ninth overall due to misses.
The Gamecocks return to action Thursday beginning with the Michael Zajac in the hammer throw at 3 p.m.