Myrtle Beach, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's track & field teams began the 2011 outdoor season at the Shamrock Invitational at Doug Shaw Stadium Friday. The Spartans posted several solid finishes, including impressive outings in establishing three new school records.
The Shamrock Invitational is being hosted by Coastal Carolina. The meet is one of the largest and deep fields in the Southeast with more than 1,100 student-athletes participating in the event. Upstate had eight finishes of 11th-place or better on the day, including three school records established by Ben Wheeler, James Jackson and Christian Ritacco.
Upstate's top finish of the day came in the men's 4x800 relay where the lineup of Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.), Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.), Michael Johnson (Elgin, S.C.) and Matt Johnson (Elgin, S.C.) combined for a third-place finish with a time of 7:43.38. The Spartans finished behind UNC Wilmington and George Mason in the event.
James Jackson (Aiken, S.C.) broke the school record in the 10,000-meter run, finishing with a time of 32:47.09, improving his own school record by 18 seconds. Ross Oden (Salisbury, N.C.) established a personal best in the same event, running in a time of 33:40.39.
Ben Wheeler (Spartanburg, S.C.) was strong throughout the day and turned in a top 10 finish in the 110-meter hurdles. He ran the time in a school record time of 14.80 to finish eighth. He bettered the school record once held by Brandon Curry (Anderson, S.C.) by four-hundredths of a second.
Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) also claimed a school record while finishing in the top 10 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He ran the event in a time of 9:49.61, besting the old record by nearly seven seconds.
Perrish Goggins (Columbia, S.C.) returned to the track for the first time since 2009 and turned in a solid performance in the long jump. He finished 10th with a jump of 21-10.25.
On the women's side, Laura Transue (Greenville, S.C.) earned a top 10 performance, while Mary Alexander (Spartanburg, S.C.) also was solid on the day. Transue finished seventh in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 12:15.60. Alexander finished 11th in the 10,000-meter run with a time of 40:41.22.