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‘It’s just getting better’: Clemson track & field shatters expectations at Bob Pollock Invitational

Kate Adent
The women’s 4×400-meter relay team finished in 3:37.08 to clinch first place at the invitational.

The Clemson track and field team showed no signs of slowing down at the recent Bob Pollock Invitational, taking place at home in Clemson from Jan. 26-27. The competition saw various event groups score personal bests and national marks, in addition to eight first-place finishes for the Tigers and another 10 entering the University’s all-time top ten list.

Track and field director Mark Elliott could not contain his excitement after day one.

“This was the best performance we have had all season, across the board,” he said on Jan. 26.

The opening day was headlined by senior Daniel Cope, who set a new school record in the men’s weight throw with a distance of 22.75 meters. Cope also holds the Jamaican national record for the event, though he was not the only throws member to shine.

Teammate Matthew Auble was right behind him in the weight throw, moving into Clemson’s No. 2 spot with a 21.07-meter heave — and he is only a freshman. Kendra Dye rounded out the rankings, earning the seventh-best Clemson mark with an 18.60-meter hammer throw.

Day two saw another strong outing for the throws group: Courtney Lawrence moved to No. 4 in school history with an 18.92-meter throw in the shot put and 13th place nationally.

The distance squad excelled across both days as well, with one of the biggest surprises coming in the men’s mile when senior Corentin Serbource ran a personal best of 4:03.15 to place him at No. 5 in the Clemson record books. Fellow milers Grace Hanratty (4:55.04) and Meredith Finley (5:04.90) also earned season bests.

The following day displayed sophomore Madison Roush’s steady growth in the 3,000-meter. Since entering the program, she has shaved eight seconds off her time, running a 9:40.53 to grasp first place and 10th in the record books.

“Day two was a continuation of day one,” Elliott said. “There’s more people competing on all facets on our team, from jumps, throws, sprints, everything. That’s when you know you have a solid team.”

On day two, D’Andre Anderson returned to the track after missing time with a lower-body injury. The anchor for Jamaica’s first-place team at the 2023 World Athletics Championship in Budapest secured an indoor best of 46.67 in the 400-meter, jumping to No. 8 on Clemson’s list.

Joining Anderson at the same spot, but on the women’s list, was Ken’Naria Gadson, who clocked in with a 53.69 in the 400.

Freshman Gladys Chepngetich has been continuing her excellence from the fall cross-country season, where she qualified for the NCAA Championship. Chepngetich turned heads in the 800-meter, paced by Olympic sensation Natoya Goule, as she coasted to a 2:02.68 victory — third all-time for Clemson and the current No. 6 time in the NCAA.

The Tigers dominated the 800-meter for both teams: Tarees Rhoden fought his way onto the NCAA top ten list with a 1:47.88 800-meter victory, as the two-time ACC champion’s season opener was four seconds faster than his time last year.

The sprints unit was no different in its performance. Ockera Myrie took first place in the 200-meter with a 23.43, and just moments later, Cameron Rose won the same event for the men’s team with a season-best time of 20.76.

Rose was visibly excited about his opener, yelling, “It’s our house!” after narrowly defeating Tennessee All-American Javonte’ Harding.

Despite featuring a new group, the women’s 4×400-meter relay finished in 3:37.08, giving them not only first place but also the season’s best. Following all of the women’s phenomenal performances, they moved up to No. 24 in the national rankings, according to USTFCCCA.

When asked about what makes the 2024 squad unique, Elliott stated the program is in a great position compared to years past. Juggling two solid teams at once is difficult, especially when the men’s team was on the verge of being eliminated just three years ago.

“From recruiting to the student-athletes to coaches, it’s a testament. It’s just getting better.”

Clemson now has its sights on the Virginia Tech Challenge that will run from Feb. 2-3. Following their trip to Blacksburg, Virginia, the Tigers will celebrate their seniors with the prestigious Tiger Paw Invitational, taking place from Feb. 9-10.

Find the full interview with Elliott here.

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Patrick Driscoll
Patrick Driscoll, Senior Reporter
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