Archive for category Sports

USC swimmer competes for international recognition

By Sarah Stone

Out of all the obstacles distance swimmer Akram Mahmoud had to overcome when he traveled 6,000 miles to the University of South Carolina, from his home in Cairo, Egypt, culture shock was not one of them.

“I felt like it’s home here, and I was really blessed,” Mahmoud said.

Mahmoud, one of the world’s top performing distance swimmers, and head coach McGee Moody attributed Mahmoud’s ease of transition to his international teammates.

“Having other people on our team that have made that adjustment, that have walked through that process, it definitely has a big impact,” Moody said.

Mahmoud, who began swimming at age 5 and wi

nning international competitions by 15, knew that he wanted to go to swim at a U.S. college. in the United States. The University of South Carolina’s reputation as a top program for distance swimming and international athletes helped him make the decision to head to Columbia.

“We’ve kind of become known worldwide as a program that can develop international students and then provide them the opportunity to go back and compete for their country,” Head Coach McGee Moody said. But there were athletic and academic hurdles to overcome.

He did not join the team until January of his freshman year, which meant he was forced to adapt to a team that had been training for months with one of the most volume-based programs in the nation. Mahmoud also had to adjust to from the long course yards used internationally to the short course yards used only in American swimming.

“It was a little bit hard for me because I have to do a lot of turns since I’m a distance swimmer so it took a long time to make my turns better and adjust for the short course yards,” Mahmoud said.

Many people also doubted the student-athlete’s ability to perform well outside the pool.

“He had a lot of people when he was coming into school here that said, ‘I don’t think we’re going to let him into school because we don’t think he can get it done. We don’t think he can make the grade,’” Moody said.

Mahmoud has earned All-American honors eight times. He has also proved skeptics of his academic performance wrong by getting his name on the list of multiple honor rolls.

Moody believes that Mahmoud is one of the top distance swimmers in the world, but he finds the mindset that inspires this success nearly as impressive.

“He has a huge heart and loves his teammates,” Moody said. “And at the same time, what’s awesome about Akram is he is one of the most fierce competitors that I’ve ever met.”

During last year’s NCAA tournament, Mahmoud was one of four swimmers who broke the American 1650 freestyle record.

“It was an epic race that to this day has never been repeated and probably won’t be for a long time, you walk over to Akram and in that moment the first thing he said to me was ‘I’m sorry coach,’” Moody said. “And I’m sitting there thinking ‘Akram, there’s only two people on the face of this planet that have swam faster than you in the 1650.’ I was like ‘What are you sorry for?’ and he was like ‘Yeah,’ but he goes ‘Those two people swam faster than me in this heat.’”

Mahmoud does not feel satisfied with what he has accomplished so far. Before his time as a Gamecock is over, he hopes to become the only swimmer at the university to win an NCAA title.

Another “first” also motivates Mahmoud. He wants to become the first Egyptian to medal in swimming. The pressure to do well for his family, country and coaches played a large role in Mahmoud’s performance in Rio. Mahmoud qualified for the Rio Olympics in 2016, but did not reach the finals. He did, however, meet his hero Michael Phelps.

“That was something I will never forget for the rest of my life,” Mahmoud said.

Over the last year and a half, Mahmoud has worked to become more confident and more experienced before Tokyo. Following graduation this spring, Mahmoud plans to stay in Columbia to train for the Olympic Games in 2020. He also plans to pursue sponsors.

Martin Truex Jr. Wins Ford EcoBoost 400 And Championship At Homestead-Miami

By: Camille Jones/

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Martin Truex Jr. won it all after taking the checkered flag in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, naming him the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion.

Truex’s victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway was his eighth victory of the 2017 season with his Furniture Row Racing No. 78 team that’s based out of Denver, Colorado, the only team based in the Centennial State to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.

“It’s just overwhelming,” said Truex. “To think about all the rough days and bad days, the days that couldn’t run 20th, to be here, I never thought this day would come and to be here is so unbelievable.”

Truex added and said, “I can’t event believe it. I can’t believe we got the lead. I can’t believe we kept it. We weren’t the best car all day long. We fought it. Cole (Pearn, crew chief) had some great pit strategy and the caution came at the right time to get us the lead and then they put it in my hands and I had to hang onto it. It’s all I could do to hang onto that thing and find a lane that would work for me and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and the 18 (Kyle Busch) were both better on the long run all day long. I just had to find something at the end and luckily was able to find a lane that was really good for my car, but also bad for them behind me and just worked out.”

The race was an up-and-down event for Truex. His car was fast enough, but he wasn’t making the powerful statement that the No. 78 team usually makes.  Read the rest of this entry »

Matt Kenseth Captures First Win Of 2017 At Phoenix; Brad Keselowski Hangs On For Final Spot In Championship 4

By: Sarah Sedwick/

Matt Kenseth passed Chase Elliott in the closing laps of the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday to earn his first win of the 2017 season. Brad Keselowski held on to capture the final spot in the Championship 4.

Although Kenseth doesn’t currently have a ride for 2018, the veteran driver managed to claim the win at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, which marked his 39th victory in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series. Kenseth, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Circle K Toyota led the race twice for a total of 62 laps en route to his second Phoenix win.

“I never dreamed I’d win one of these races, so obviously I’ve been so incredibly blessed throughout my whole career and I’ve had so many great people work with me – great sponsors, crew chiefs, car owners,” said Kenseth. “I’ve raced against great drivers, so, you know – but last year, we won a couple races and I usually never look at stats and I saw Mark (Martin) had 40 and I was like, ‘I just want to get 40 so I can tie my hero Mark’.”

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin entered the weekend competing for the fourth and final spot in the Championship 4. At Martinsville Speedway in October, Elliott and Hamlin were seen in a heated argument after Hamlin got into the back of Elliott, causing him to spin and pound the wall. Throughout the day on Sunday, both drivers maintained the tension between them because the Playoffs were on the line.

Elliott needed a win to continue and Hamlin needed the sufficient amount of points to advance. Both, Elliott and Hamlin were competitive. Hamlin led for 193 laps, while Elliott only led for 34. Late in Stage 3, the two drivers battled each other hard. While coming out of Turn 4, Elliott got underneath Hamlin and left no room for error. Hamlin bounced off the wall and eventually cut a tire, bringing out the seventh and final caution on lap 276. After Hamlin hit the wall, he realized his chances of claiming the final Championship 4 spot were no more.  Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: The People’s Champion

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

There’s a giant billboard currently on display at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) proclaiming that “Chase Elliott is the People’s Champion.”

This creative – and largely unsubstantiated, based on the fact that Elliott has won zero NASCAR Cup Series races to date — piece of advertising is the track’s response to a heated post-race exchange between Elliott and Denny Hamlin at Martinsville on Oct 29. Hamlin wrecked Elliott from the lead with two laps remaining, earning the ire of fans and allowing Kyle Busch to claim the checkered flag and a guaranteed spot in the championship final four in the process.

That was quite the triple whammy. Good job, Hamlin.

While fans were probably still trying to exit Martinsville’s parking lots after the race, TMS went to work, taking advantage of this fledgling rivalry. Despite the events at the historic track nicknamed “the Paper Clip,” Hamlin and Elliott remained in the top eight and are still eligible to win the championship. Cue the fireworks; things are only going to get better from here.

TMS’ decision to fan the competitive flames by bestowing the somewhat grandiose “People’s Champion” title on Elliott, in addition to being a fantastic case of deliberate pot-stirring, is really kind of brilliant on a number of levels. Hamlin has earned the reputation of being rather volatile during his racing career, so I’m guessing that seeing his much less experienced competitor being so highly touted isn’t sitting very well.

And Elliott, while wildly popular with fans, still has a lot to prove on the track … winning a race would be a good place to start. Duh.

Taking advantage of controversy to drive ticket sales is hardly a new strategy. Almost two decades ago, the late Jim Hunter, who then served as president of Darlington Raceway, took masterful advantage of what could have been a discouraging situation for a track promoter. Read the rest of this entry »

Martin Truex Jr. Continues NASCAR Playoff Dominance With Kansas Win

By: Hunter Thomas/

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – While racing with heavy hearts for the passing of Furniture Row Racing road-crew fabricator Jim Watson, Martin Truex Jr. piloted the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota to victory on Sunday in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Throughout the afternoon, Truex Jr. overcame a restart penalty that was assessed on lap 38 and an unscheduled green flag pit stop for a vibration to capture his seventh Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory of 2017. With the win, he becomes the first driver in series history to ever win both Kansas races in a season. He led 91 laps during the 267-lap NASCAR Playoff race.

“Just couldn’t believe some of the things that were happening and thought there was no way that we were going to win that race at some point,” Truex Jr. said. “That first restart violation really caught me by surprise and that hurt, but that wasn’t the last blow we had to take. There was the loose wheel we had to pit for under green and getting a lap down and being able to stay out through that last stage and get that lap back was crucial, without that, we didn’t have a shot. Then we got back mid-pack and had a couple really good restarts to get some track position and then really fought the car through that part of the race and had to make some big adjustments and I felt like at the end we got dialed in pretty good. I’m pretty happy with that.”

Kurt Busch finished second on Sunday after starting 15th in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford. The runner-up finish comes as a sigh of relief for Busch. He hasn’t earned a top-five finish since Richmond in early September. Read the rest of this entry »

My Brain on NASCAR: Simply Awesome

Cathy Elliott

By Cathy Elliott

Like different types of music, conversations can have their own distinctive rhythm.

I learned this from experience. In any given verbal exchange, the moment the other person knows you have an affiliation with NASCAR – no matter how small — the same two things invariably happen.

First comes the inevitable driver question. There’s a small amount of wiggle room on this one, but ninety-nine percent of the time this blank is filled in with, “Do you know Dale Jr.?”

The next level in this two-step process has a bit more verbal Spandex, stretching to fit the speaker’s dimensions. Usually it’s a suggestion. You know it’s coming, because it’s always prefaced by the query, “You know what NASCAR needs to do?”

I don’t know that, actually, but folks don’t mind one bit offering their opinions to help me figure it out. They have informed me that NASCAR should remove all road courses from the schedule; do away with the current scoring system in favor of “the guy with the most points at the end of the season is the champion, just like the old days” system; throw all the restrictor plates into a box and sell them off for scrap metal; and ban Kyle Busch from racing. In any series. Ever.

There is something to be said for consistency. If you’re forced to address something on a regular basis, it can turn anyone, regardless of age or gender, into a Boy Scout: always prepared.

The problem with thinking that you’re “always” anything, though, is that you never really are. So a couple of days ago, when someone asked me, “You know what NASCAR needs to do?” I mentally readied my defense of road course racing and said, “Nope. Tell me.” Read the rest of this entry »

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Ran As Hard As He Could In Final Race At Talladega Superspeedway

By: Sarah Sedwick/

TALLADEGA, Ala. – After what he called a lucky day, Dale Earnhardt Jr. managed to avoid several accidents to finish seventh during his last race at Talladega Superspeedway, a track that has been synonymous with the Earnhardt family.

Sunday’s Alabama 500 marked the first time Earnhardt Jr., driver of Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet, started on the pole in 35 starts at Talladega Superspeedway. During qualifying on Saturday, Earnhardt Jr. reached a top speed of 190.544, which held off Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet by .035 seconds.

Earnhardt Jr. has had a thriving record at Talladega Superspeedway throughout his career. In the early 2000s, he won five races, which included two in the 2002 season. Earnhardt Jr.’s total wins then rose to six in 2015, marking Talladega Superspeedway as holding the most wins of his career at a single track. He holds 12 Top-5 finishes and 17 Top-10 finishes at the track. Overall, he has led 967 total laps at Talladega Superspeedway.

“I just wanted to come in here and be considered talented, but to be great at anything was beyond my imagination,” said Earnhardt Jr. “I appreciate people’s compliments on my plate driving and the success we’ve had at all the plate races.”

Throughout Sunday’s race, Earnhardt Jr. led a total of seven laps. Earnhardt Jr. also received two penalties; one for pitting before pit road was open, right after a major wreck on lap 26, and the other for speeding while entering pit road on lap 52.

As if dealing with penalties weren’t enough, Earnhardt Jr. narrowly escaped four accidents, all in Turn 3.  Read the rest of this entry »

Martin Truex Jr. Wins Bank of America 500 In Overtime Finish At Charlotte

By: Hunter Thomas/

CONCORD, N.C. – Martin Truex Jr. held off the field in NASCAR Overtime at Charlotte Motor Speedway to win the Bank of America 500, the first race of the Round of 12.

Truex Jr. was on his way to the victory, but on lap 327, Kyle Busch brought out the caution for the third time of the afternoon. On the restart, Truex Jr. lined up on the inside with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin to his outside. When the green flag flew, Truex Jr. in the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota, was able to stay out in front; however, on lap 333, the caution came out for the 10th and final time, when Kurt Busch slid up the track, hit Kyle Larson and spun through Turn 2. On the NASCAR Overtime restart, Truex Jr. got an even better jump on Hamlin and went on to win his sixth race of the season.

“Unbelievable win. Just a total team effort,” Truex Jr. said. “Every single guy – every guy on this team just did a perfect job today and I can’t be more proud of them and at this time of the year is just when you want it to happen. You dream about days like today. I don’t know if we had the best car, but we damn sure go it in victory lane.”

Chase Elliott, who started third on both of the last two restarts, finished second in his Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 SunEnergy1 Chevrolet. Elliott has now finished second for two consecutive weekends. Last weekend, he nearly won at Dover until Kyle Busch was able to get around him in the final laps. On Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Elliott led 12 laps and ran up front throughout the entire event.  Read the rest of this entry »

Kyle Busch Passes Chase Elliott In Final Laps At Dover To Win 42nd Career Cup Series Race

By: Hunter Thomas/

DOVER, Del. – Chase Elliott was on the verge of his first career victory until Kyle Busch passed him with just two laps to go to win the Apache Warrior 400 presented by Lucas Oil at Dover International Speedway.

Elliott looked as if he was going to cruise to his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet, but after leading 59 consecutive laps, Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota, was able to get the best of Elliott in heavy lapped traffic to take over the race lead in the closing two laps. The win is Busch’s 42nd career series win.

“Just we kept working on it all day long,” Busch said. “We kept making adjustments to it every pit stop, every chance we got and Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys did a really, really good job of that and I think the biggest thing there at the end was just having a little bit fewer, fresher lap tires than Chase (Elliott) did and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be enough when I got close. I got within five lengths and I stalled out and I was like, ‘Oh, man, I think that was it,’ you know? But I got back to the top and got enough momentum back rolling. Chase was kind of plugged up with the lap cars in front of him, so I think the lap cars actually helped us with that one, but overall just great day for us.”

Elliott, who although didn’t win the event, led a race high of 138 laps after being out in front of the field on three occasions. With the runner-up finish, Elliott will transfer to the second round of the NASCAR Playoffs.  Read the rest of this entry »

Kyle Busch Dominated the ISM Connect 300 in New Hampshire to Solidify Spot in the Second Round of the Playoffs

By: Sarah Sedwick/

LOUDON, N.H. – Kyle Busch won the ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, after gaining momentum following a multi-car accident.

Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota, won his second consecutive pole of the Playoffs and led a total of 187 laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. After narrowly avoiding a multi-car crash on lap 151, which involved leader, Martin Truex Jr., Busch quickly regained the lead which resulted in a victory at the track. This win was Busch’s third at the track, and it marks the 41st victory of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

“It was just a great day for our team and for the 18 team,” said Busch. “We were able to execute all day long and we did everything right. We did everything we were supposed to do and that’s where you end up when we’re able to do those things. It was a great race up front too, with the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) there. The 20 (Matt Kenseth) was there for a little. I think he was a little better on that long run that one time, but overall, we had some really good short run speed there at the end. We were able to get out front there and kind of set the field because – set the pace – and that was what we needed to do today.”

Kyle Larson, driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Target Chevrolet, placed second and posted his fifth top-10 finish in eight races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  The runner-up finish was Larson’s 17th top-10 finish of the season. Larson also ranks second in the Playoff points standings after the race, trailing behind Martin Truex Jr., with a 24-point difference.  Read the rest of this entry »

Martin Truex Jr. Kicks Off the NASCAR Playoffs with a Win at Chicagoland

By: Sarah Sedwick/

JOLIET, Ill. – Martin Truex Jr. clenched his fifth win of the season during the Tale of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday.

Truex claimed the first victory of the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs; however, this win did not come without difficulty. The Furniture Row Racing team overcame a speeding penalty that was assessed on lap 42. Despite the adversity, Truex Jr. worked his way up the leaderboard, where he finished more than six seconds ahead of Chase Elliot, who took second place. Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota led the final 55 laps of the race en route to his 12th victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The win also marked his second at Chicagoland Speedway

“I can’t even tell you how much it means to me,” said Truex Jr. “I’m a much better driver because of (Sherry Pollex), and what she taught me. We’ve learned a lot about life together. We continue to face every challenge head on and not skimp and we live every day just like we want to and we have fun. I’m proud of her and very proud to have the teal and gold in the race car and thankful for the other 28 guys who have done it. I’m thankful for all that and everybody.”

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott wrapped up the Tale of the Turtles 400 with a second-place finish, but he gave his best shot trying to run down Truex Jr. for the lead as the race concluded.
Elliot held the lead for 38 laps, beginning on lap 125, but lost a battle with Kevin Harvick on lap 163, and led for four more laps towards the end of the race. This race marked Elliott’s 15th top-10 finish in 2017.  Read the rest of this entry »

Kyle Larson Wins In Overtime At Richmond; NASCAR Sets The Field For The 2017 Playoffs

By: Camille Jones/

Kyle Larson stole the victory in Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 after the race went into NASCAR Overtime at Richmond Raceway. The 16-driver field for the 2017 Playoffs was also set after the checkered flag flew in Virginia.

Larson won the race off of pit road in his Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Target Chevrolet before the final restart, and he held off the field to claim the victory when the caution came out just after he took the white flag. Larson spent much of the race chasing a dominant Martin Truex Jr. who ultimately ended the event in the wall after contact from Denny Hamlin. Truex Jr.’s crash brought out the caution that ended the race and handed Larson his fifth victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

“I’ve got the greatest team out here and definitely the best pit crew,” said Larson. “That showed tonight. I can’t thank those guys enough. They were money all night long to gain spots. This win is a huge, congrats to them. The Target Chevy was pretty good all night. The No. 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) was definitely the best, but I thought I was second best for most of the runs but it came down to the last restart there and I got a good start. I spun my tires pretty bad and I was a little nervous, but we cleared him (Truex Jr) into (Turn) 1 and I was pretty excited about that. So, I can’t thank Target all of our partners enough. I’m really pumped for the Playoffs. We’ve got a great shot at the championship, I feel like, this year. So, I’m looking forward to it.”

Joey Logano finished in the second position. He earned his 12th top-10 finish of the season; however, he needed a win to claim a spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The driver of the Team Penske No. 22 Shell Pennzoil/Red Cross Ford won at Richmond Raceway in the spring, but the win was encumbered due to an issue with the suspension. Logano was one of the Championship 4 that competed for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway last season, but on Saturday night, his 2017 championship hopes came to an end with the runner-up finish.  Read the rest of this entry »

Rick Ware Racing To Run Clemson University Scheme At Pocono And Darlington Raceway

By: Hunter Thomas/

Rick Ware Racing will run a Clemson University scheme during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Pocono Raceway this weekend and at Darlington Raceway in September.

During the Axalta Presents the Pocono 400, the hood of Cody Ware’s orange and purple No. 51 Chevrolet, will feature the logo celebrating Clemson’s 2016 NCAA College Football Playoff National Championship, while white tiger paws will adorn the sides of the car. Absolutely no funding of Rick Ware Racing’s efforts at Pocono or Darlington are coming from Clemson or its Athletic Department.

“Funding will come from advertisers that want to be a part of this exciting opportunity and from individuals that just want to have their name on the car,” Rick Ware Racing marketing representative, Bryan Clodfelter said. “For $100 individuals can get their name on the car and will have an opportunity to win merchandise and also All-Access NASCAR Hot Pit Passes for Darlington.”

The scheme that the team will compete with at Pocono Raceway this weekend isn’t the first time that there has been a Clemson-themed car run in the series, but it’s the first scheme in NASCAR to completely feature Clemson’s 2016 NCAA College Football Playoff National Championship. Darlington Raceway’s Bojangles Southern 500 weekend in September, is The Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR, and although the scheme has yet to be designed, Rick Ware Racing would like to possibly run a throwback tying in the Clemson Tigers’ 1981 National Championship.  Read the rest of this entry »

Ed Pompa Goes #ALLIN With Clemson Car In Bama At Talladega Superspeedway

By Hunter Thomas

Fast Track Racing’s Ed Pompa will feature the Clemson Tigers on his No. 10 Chevrolet this weekend in Crimson Tide Country at Talladega Superspeedway during the ARCA Racing Series General Tire 200 on Friday.

Back in January, the Clemson University football team defeated the University of Alabama, 35-31 in the College Football Playoff National Championship. The football title was Clemson’s first since 1981. On Friday, Pompa’s race car will be wrapped in bright orange and purple as he hits the track for the second time this season.

“Before the season started, I decided to wrap the superspeedway car in Clemson colors for Daytona and Talladega,” Pompa said. “ASM Graphics did an amazing job of designing and installing the ‘Clemson’ wrap. My son Jeff graduated from Clemson in 2012, so they received a bunch of my racing funds as tuition. I had a plan to auction off the hood from the Daytona car for charity. Now, the plan is to auction off the hood from the Daytona car and the Talladega car. Andy Hillenburg (Fast Track Racing team owner) has agreed to donate the Daytona hood to the Clemson Foundation, and the Talladega hood to The Double H Ranch. There are huge details related to these auctions being finalized, which I hope to be able to announce by race day.

“I’m sure the purple and orange car will bring out some animated response from the Alabama race fans, but it’s all in good fun. Might need a police escort to get out of the track!” Read the rest of this entry »

This one’s ‘Four’ the fans

Senior guard Justin McKie holds up the East Regional Champions trophy
after South Carolina’s win over Florida. McKie scored three points in 13 minutes against the Gators.

By Micaela Wendell, Joe Crevier and Collyn Taylor
Carolina Reporter

“Fi-nal Four! Fi-nal Four!” The chants by deliriously happy South Carolina fans rose higher and higher Sunday as the men’s basketball team arrived home after its historic Elite Eight win over the Florida Gators.

Gamecock fans young and old showed up to welcome the players home. Festive flags and costumes dotted the buzzing pool of garnet and black as revelers awaited the team’s scheduled 10 p.m.

Senior business student Josh Birkbeck said watching his Gamecocks advance to the Final Four was a dream come true and he’s glad he stayed in Columbia to enjoy the victory with his fellow students.

arrival outside of the Colonial Life Arena.

The welcome party capped a day of exuberant celebrations of ecstatic USC students jumping into the Thomas Cooper Library fountain and storming the streets of Five Points following the 77-70 victory. Images of the celebration flooded social media.

Murphy Cook, a fourth-year experimental psychology student, didn’t think she would experience a party of such epic proportions while at USC.

“When I came for freshman orientation, they were saying when things get exciting people jump in the fountain, and I was like, ‘Well, that’s never going to happen while I’m here,’” she said. “And it did.”

Cook brought her dog, Bogey, to Colonial Life Arena and dressed him in his own Gamecock gear to share the school spirit and excitement.

“This is the best thing that’s happened since I’ve been here,” she said.

Columbia fans of all ages gathered outside Colonial Life Arena Sunday night to welcome home the Gamecocks and head coach Frank Martin fresh off their Elite 8 victory in New York City Sunday afternoon.

Josh Birkbeck watched the fateful game in Five Points and saw firsthand just how cocky fans got in their post-game celebrations.

“There were people taking running jumps into the fountain, and I saw two dudes walking down the street with a couch to burn,” he said. “Our recliner is definitely going up in flames when we win on Saturday.”

The commotion outside Colonial Life Arena drew families, students and more to try to catch a glimpse of the team. While much of the crowd squeezed itself into the courtyard by the glass doors for a front-row view, other fans climbed onto low walls and took turns sitting on shoulders.

USC student Matthew Weathersby left his job at a local wing bar to watch the Gamecocks return. He dressed as a chicken because he was “just fillin’ in for Cocky.”

Phones popped up from the tight crowd like periscopes to capture precious live stream moments and Snapchats. Those who arrived a little later found spots on the Discovery parking garage, and a few drones captured a sky view of the excitement.

Matthew Weathersby had his own bird’s-eye view from the ground, as he showed up dressed as a chicken with a Final Four sign in hand. His manager at a local wing bar let him leave work early for the win.

“I’m just fillin’ in for Cocky until he gets back from New York,” the 20-year-old transfer student said. “I don’t plan to steal his position!”

As the clock passed 10 p.m., USC President Harris Pastides took the podium to keep the crowd’s energy high. But once it hit 11 p.m. with no sign of the team, people started to leave. The cheers became less frequent, and open pockets formed in the once-impenetrable crowd.

Ten minutes later, cheers erupted from the front doors of Colonial Life Arena, and a stampede of fans from the outskirts of the crowd rushed in to finally see the team. After Pastides and athletic director Ray Tanner spoke, men’s basketball coach Frank Martin finally addressed the fans.

“How ‘bout them Gamecocks?” Martin asked. Fans cheered, screamed and tossed spurs as high as they could reach. “I can’t tell you how exciting it is to come home and see you great fans. Thank you so much … I couldn’t be prouder of this group.”

Senior guard Duane Notice also expressed his gratitude for the fans.

“Through our ups and downs, you’ve been here for a long time,” he said. “We play for you guys.”

Senior guard Duane Notice only scored six points in 38 minutes of play against Florida, but delivered the game-clinching dunk with 11 seconds left. Notice told the Gamecocks fans “We play for you guys.”

Scott Newman had been waiting decades for this milestone in the program. He watched the game against the Gators at his brother’s house, and the win was an emotional one for them both.

“We’re longtime Gamecock fans. I saw John Roche play right over there,” Newman said, referencing the NBA player’s time at the Carolina Coliseum in the 1960s and 1970s. “I never thought we’d get to the Final Four. This is special.”

Newman admitted that while the older fans were a bit outnumbered by the younger ones, it was still a time no Gamecock men’s basketball fan will forget anytime soon.

“This is magical. These guys are having the best days of their lives. This is great,” he said.

Drummer Pete McMahon brought his cowbell to the rally and began a “Go Gamecocks” chant while the crowd awaited the team’s arrival.

After the event — which included numerous chants to cancel class the next day — some students were ready to head down to Five Points to keep the celebrations going. But for many of those who had been partying all day for the Gamecocks, it was time to head home.

“It’s been a long day,” said Kristina Johnson, a 21-year-old nursing student.

Other Gamecocks were already making plans for Saturday’s game in Phoenix, Arizona, against Gonzaga.

“I bet tickets are gonna be like $400,” Adam Coulter, a fourth-year business student, said. “But my parents said they’d hook me up because the Gamecocks in the Final Four is once-in-a-lifetime chance.”

Bodybuilding: More than steroids and protein powder

Marina Hoffmann, trainer at MÜV Fitness in Forest Acres and bodybuilder, said one of her favorite workouts is rear cable delt flies, which tones the back and triceps.

Former solider, now bodybuilder Matthew Headdon said an exercise as simple as pullups is essential for core strength, as well as upper body strength.

Marina Hoffmann is currently training for a bodybuilding competition, which consists of a three-day cycle of back, legs and shoulders.

By Joseph Crevier

Bodybuilding dates back to the days of the Greek philosopher Socrates, when strength and physique were viewed as almost godlike features.

It’s no coincidence statues of Greek Gods like Zeus and Poseidon are so sculpted – strength equaled power.

But that doesn’t hold true today. Bodybuilding has become a niche sport that often gets a bad rap from outsiders who don’t understand it.

“If your network or family around you don’t understand, it could be a lonely world because as you get closer to the show, every minute of your day is calculated,” said former USC football player and bodybuilder Rob Kean.

Bodybuilding is a lifestyle. It’s not easy. People do it for all sorts of reasons. For Kean, the competitive nature that he developed in his college football days  pushed him toward bodybuilding.

Pete DeAnda ventured into bodybuilding for a different reason.

“I think because I was a chubby kid, it made me self-conscious, so I started training and got interested in how nutrition and weight training can change your body drastically,” said DeAnda, CEO of Nutrition Zone supplement stores in New Jersey.

Whatever one’s reasoning is for bodybuilding, the sport boils down to two main factors: diet and training.

Bulking and cutting

If you ask any bodybuilder, they’ll tell you that lifting isn’t the hardest part, it’s the dieting. A bodybuilder’s diet is extremely structured and varies depending on his or her goals.

An active participant in bodybuilding competitions has a bulking season and a cutting season. While bulking, a male bodybuilder could consume as many as six or seven thousand calories per day, depending on their body type.

Kean, who has a ectomorph body type, struggles to put on muscle mass and maintain his weight.

“Somebody with my body type, if you really want to get big, you probably want to do a tour of drive-thru windows,” he said.

This is called a dirty bulk, meaning the source of calories comes from foods high in fats and calories like a fast food burger and fries. Those with an endomorph or mesomorph body type lean toward a clean bulk with one or two cheat days per week. A clean bulk is utilized to avoid bloating and swelling throughout the body.

An ectomorph typically has smaller joints and is naturally thin and lanky. Kean said there’s probably less than 20 true ectomorphs in the sport of bodybuilding on a national level today, as the sport is best suited for endomorphs and higher-end mesomorphs who are naturally built bigger.

When a competition is approaching, though, bodybuilders begin to cut fat and calories about 16 weeks out, although that time period varies by the individual. During this period, caloric intake decreases, while the bodybuilder still eats around seven meals per day.

Matthew Headdon, a trainer at MUV Fitness in Forest Acres, who has participated in competitions, said he would eat a meal consisting of chicken, shrimp, rice and zucchini in the beginning stages of a cutting period, slowly cycling out the carbohydrates as the weeks progressed. Headdon said as the competition approached, his carbohydrate intake would dip to below 50 grams per day, causing the muscles to flatten as water is pumped out.

“It’s all about the food; it’s everybody’s weakness,” Headdon said.

For women, dieting is even more important during this stage. Women burn fat more slowly than men, so their diet must be even stricter. MUV Fitness trainer Marina Hoffmann is weeks away from a competition and has already begun cutting out carbohydrates and fats completely.

Hoffmann relies on five cups of coffee per day and energy drinks during this period, as carbohydrates and fats are the bodies normal source of energy. This is an agonizing time for bodybuilders, summing up their emotions during it as ‘hangry,” a combination of hunger and anger.

Alcohol is also off limits for a bodybuilder looking to put on muscle, according to Headdon.

“Alcohol is estrogenic, it drops your testosterone and it also stops protein synthesis, so all that protein you’re taking in isn’t doing anything,” Headdon said.

This type of dieting is not the healthiest, but it’s not really intended to be.

“Jay Cutler will tell you ‘bodybuilding is not about health,’ it’s about aesthetics,” Headdon said.

Cutler is perhaps the most renowned modern-day bodybuilder, winning the Mr. Olympia title four times in five years.


What’s bodybuilding without the training?

Like the diet aspect, training contains two main categories: cardio and weight training. The emphasis on these two aspects vary based on the individual’s body type and what point they’re at in the process.

Kean dispelled the stereotype that bodybuilders spend hours every day lifting weights. In fact, it’s the opposite. Kean said he spends about 45 minutes to an hour in the gym each day actually lifting weights.

“I try to get the craziest pump I possibly can,” he said. “The magic’s happening when you’re at home laying on the couch.”

Blood is pumped into the muscles when training, bringing the nutrients from any food and supplements along with it, which are then absorbed when the workout is completed. Kean finds that less rest between sets leads to a better pump, resulting in a short, high-intensity workout.

A workout popular in the weightlifting community is the five-by-five. This means five sets of five reps at a heavy weight. This technique is utilized mostly during bulking season because it adds strength fast and is most useful with core exercises like deadlifts, squats and bench presses.

These exercises also “fry fat” because of their intensity, according to Headdon, and are vital for male bodybuilders, as they boost testosterone levels. Headdon cut off 5.5 percent body fat in five weeks without cardio, simply by mixing these exercises into his daily routines.

It’s not as simple for female bodybuilders, however.

“The females that do true bodybuilding have to work that much harder,” Headdon said. “Female bodybuilding is pretty freakin’ rad because their bodies don’t want to hold muscle.”

And Hoffmann confirmed that point. She said her daily routine consists of a morning hour of cardio, followed by a training session, then another hour of cardio at night.

The heaviest lifting for a bodybuilder is during the bulking stage, while cardio and reps are increased during the cutting period.

Of course, every bodybuilder is different and their routine will vary. But the one constant in bodybuilding is the process. Bodybuilders say they dedicate their lives to their craft and push their physical and mental limits every single day.

“It’s definitely not a bottle of steroids and a couple workouts, there’s so much more to it,” Kean said.

And for those who challenge that opinion, Kean has one answer, “come join me for a couple days.”

Brad Keselowski Takes Advantage Of Harvick’s Mishap To Win At Atlanta

By: Hunter Thomas/

HAMPTON, Ga. – In a race that was dominated by Kevin Harvick, Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski was able to overcome adversity to win the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

A costly speeding penalty on pit road with just 14 laps to go cost Harvick the race. The driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford led a race high of 292 laps, and he also won the first two stages, but when the final caution of the afternoon came due to Austin Dillon stalling on the track, Harvick was forced to surrender the lead to Kyle Larson and restart at the tail end of the field.

“I was going too fast on pit road apparently,” said Harvick after the race. “I really hate it for everybody on this Jimmy John’s Ford. They put a great car under me, and we did everything that I thought we needed to do. I knew that I needed to be close to pit road speed because we were having trouble getting out of the box, but I didn’t think that I was pushing it that close, but it gets to bouncing there, and you can’t really tell where you’re at, and that’s why there are so many pit road speeding penalties here because you have to run it so close, and I was too fast.”

Kyle Larson was scored the leader on the restart with 11 laps to go, but with just six laps remaining, he was passed by Keselowski in the No. 2 Autotrader Ford. Larson kept Keselowski in sight, but he was unable to get back around him. Keselowski went on to win his first race of the season while claiming the second victory for Ford Performance in 2017.

“Well, you know, wins are always special, but early in the season they’re really good,” Keselowski said. “You just can’t take any wins for granted. I know I don’t. I always feel like before a race, you obviously always want to win, and you always wonder yourself when your last win is going to be, and I’m not anywhere near retirement age, but you still think about those things and you think about how tough it just is to win at this level and how lucky you are to have a team to win.”

Although Keselowski flew by Larson in the closing laps to win, he had struggles of his own throughout the 325-lap race. In Stage 2, Keselowski had two unscheduled pit stops. The first stop was for a tire issue during green flag conditions, and the second was due to a loose lug nuts following a pit stop.

Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Keselowski’s team said, “Yeah, well, it was definitely a long day, and we had our fair share of issues and adversity we had to overcome with the tire trouble there mid‑part of the race with the right front coming apart, and then we had to come back down at one point for some lug nuts on the left rear. But Brad just drove a smart race.

“I mean, it’s all about managing your tires and taking care of your car. It’s such a long race here, and it’s easy to get down when we have issues like we did, but he stayed focused all day and was able to get us back in position there at the end, and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) was definitely strong, but we felt like we weren’t far behind, and when he had his issue there at the end, we were able to capitalize on it.”

Larson was trying to capture his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, and he was just six laps from doing so, but Keselowski just had the faster car. In the closing laps, Larson moved to the high side of the track to try and find more speed, but his Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Target Chevrolet couldn’t find enough grip to hold on for the win.

“Yeah, I mean, I can make the high line work at most tracks,” Larson said. “Here at Atlanta, I don’t do a good enough job up top. That’s why I try to commit myself to the bottom throughout the race. There when I restarted the leader after our Christmas present we got there, and Brad lined up behind me, I knew he was going to be the one to beat. The solid runner-up finish marks Larson’s second top-10 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He finished eighth back in 2014.

“I’d spent a lot of time around him throughout the race, especially on the short runs he was better than I was, and he would always pass me in (Turns) 1 and 2. I knew I was going to have to try and take his line away. I tried a few times, and he finally kind of guessed where I was going right one lap and got to my inside.”

Despite being caught speeding on pit road on lap 36 and 89, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth was able to recover for an impressive third-place finish. The driver of the No. 20 DeWalt Flexvolt Toyota now has 17 career top-10 finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“Yeah, it was a good comeback,” Kenseth said. “It was an uphill battle all day. For some reason, our speed was off on pit road and we got two penalties there that put us behind and just the cautions fell and everything and it took all day to get our laps and get back in position, so everything kind of when our way at the end, except for that outside restart hurt us, but we had a good car and glad we got a decent result.”

Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five. On lap 212, Elliott was caught speeding on pit road, so a top-five finish was quite a comeback for the driver of the No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet. Atlanta Motor Speedway is Elliott’s home track. He grew up in Dawsonville, Georgia that is about two hours away from Atlanta Motor Speedway by car.

“Our car was really good,” Elliott said. “I don’t think Kevin’s (Harvick) car was any better than ours. I think he was just doing a little better job driving than I was and being consistent and doing a good job around the bottom and conserving his tires and still running fast. Something for me to try to improve on coming back. I think we made a big step into being able to keep up with him. We just need a little more.”

Rounding out the top-10 on Sunday was Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr. Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray.

Throughout the afternoon, there were only six cautions and none of them were for multi-car accidents. The Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 saw nine lead changes among five drivers.

With a ninth-place finish, Harvick now leads his teammate, Kurt Busch by four points in the standings. Keselowski’s win catapults him to third, just six points back from the lead. Elliott is fourth, eight points back and Logano rounds out the top-five, 10 points behind Harvick.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will head to the West Coast for the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 12. Live coverage of the third race of the season will broadcast on FOX at 3:30 p.m. ET. is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

Gary Ledbetter Jr. Wins Back-To-Back MASS Races At Dillon Motor Speedway

By: Hunter Thomas/

DILLON, S.C. – Gary Ledbetter Jr. led all but four laps on Saturday to capture his second Mid Atlantic Street Stock (MASS) win of the season at Dillon Motor Speedway.

Ledbetter Jr. started on the pole for the 75-lap race, and he led until the midway break on lap 40. When the field went back to green to start the second half of the race, Ledbetter didn’t get going on the restart, and Sonny Schoffen, who had been running second all afternoon was able to move into the top spot; however, the caution immediately came out after John Guker spun in Turn 1.

Schoffen was once again able to get out in front of the field when the race went back to green. Ledbetter Jr. ran down Schoffen and passed him for the lead on lap 45. Ledbetter Jr. never looked back as he captured the trophy and the $1,000 purse. He won MASS’ first race of the season, the New Year’s BASH back in January, and on Saturday, he won the second series event of the 2017 season.

Ricky Locklair Jr. blew an engine on Saturday prior to the race, but his team was able to install a new engine before the green flag flew. Locklair Jr. started from the rear of the field, but he was able to battle back for an impressive third-place finish.

Wayne Locklair and Curtis Peeples finished fourth and fifth. Danny Brewer, AJ Hyatt, Ron Flynn, Chuck Isom and John Guker rounded out the top-10.

The March BASH only saw two other cautions aside from the halfway mark and Guker’s spin following the break.

On lap 57, Danny Brewer brought out the caution, when he stalled in Turn 3. Brewer’s throttle hung, and he had to shut the car off.

The final caution of the race came out two laps later, when Ricky Locklair Sr. hit the wall and stalled on the frontstretch. Locklair Sr. retired from the event and finished 12th.

Greg Peterson dominated to win the $600-to win Charger/Challenger feature. Finishing second was Matt Rogers. JR Moore completed the top-three.

Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/ | Greg Peterson and crew celebrate after winning the Charger/Challenger feature at Dillon Motor Speedway.

AJ Sanders won the Pro Cylinder feature on Saturday. He took home the trophy and the $600 purse. Kris Hetu finished second, followed by Brandon Clements. Austin Cates and Barry Wilson rounded out the top-five.

The Banger FWD feature kept the fans on their feet as Kris Hetu and Ryan Walsh battled hard throughout the feature. Hetu edged Walsh in an epic photo finish; however, the two drivers were just racing for fun. According to Dillon Motor Speedway rules, drivers who race in higher divisions can’t be scored during a Banger FWD race. As a result, Roy Marley who was right behind Hetu and Walsh was declared the winner. Robert Koons, Tony Parker, Tracy Schoffen and Glenn Peterson completed the top-five.

Dillon Motor Speedway will host the Chilling and Grilling Open House on Saturday, March 11. The free event will feature food, a swap meet, race car rides for the kids, jump castles and an open practice session for competitors.

The speedway’s next race will be held on Saturday, March 18, when the Vintage Car Nationals and the Carolina Eastern Mini Cup Association (CEMCA) visit the track. Drivers from Canada and Florida are expected to make the trip to compete. is a daily motorsports news outlet based in Florence, South Carolina, concentrating on NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, NHRA, Red Bull Global Rallycross, World of Outlaws and much more. On the site, you’ll find unique opinions, original news content, team press releases, breathtaking photos and videos. Be sure to like TheFourthTurn on Facebook and follow @TheFourthTurn on Twitter.

MASS Street Stock National $1000 To Win

  1. Gary Ledbetter, Jr. 48
  2. Sonny Schoffen 75
  3. Ricky Locklair, Jr. 12
  4. Wayne Locklair 56
  5. Curtis Peeples 42
  6. Danny Brewer 4
  7. AJ Hyatt 27
  8. Ron Flynn 66
  9. Chuck Isom 12
  10. John Guker 56
  11. Kevin Ellis 33
  12. Ricky Locklair 50
  13. Kyle Lynch 16
  14. Jeff Melton 6
  15. Greg Barnette 8
  16. James Horner 21

Pro 4 Cylinders $600 To Win

  1. AJ Sanders 24
  2. Kris Hetu 01
  3. Brandon Clements 53
  4. Austin Cates 44
  5. Barry Wilson 7
  6. Phillip Duffy 27w

Chargers/ Challengers $600 To Win

  1. Greg Peterson 22
  2. Matt Rogers 13
  3. JR Moore 23
  4. Michael Contarino 18

Bangers FWD

  1. Roy Marley 7
  2. Robert Koons 22
  3. Tony Parker 11
  4. Tracy Schoffen 75
  5. Glenn Peterson 17
  6. 70
  7. Grayson Carroll 44
  8. Santana Davis 5
  9. Matt Carter 00
  10. John Hladik 13
  11. Kris Hetu 01
  12. Ryan Walsh 87

Gamecock softball excited for potential deep postseason run

By Collyn Taylor
Carolina Reporter

Courtesy South Carolina Media Relations | Head coach Beverly Smith coaches her team pregame. In her seventh season at South Carolina, she says this is the best team she’s had.

The South Carolina softball team is tired of traveling to Tallahassee, Florida.

The Gamecocks have made the postseason four-straight seasons, and three of those years they were shipped down Interstate 95 to play in a four-team regional hosted by Florida State. Both years, they didn’t make it out of the regional.

“People have asked me if I’ve bought any property there yet,” head coach Beverly Smith said, laughing. “But we scheduled Florida State here on our bye weekend, so they have to come here for a change.”

The Gamecocks are trying to avoid hitting the road for regionals, trying to stay home for the first round of the NCAA Tournament and host three other teams with the winner of the regional advancing to the Super Regional round.

Smith, who’s coaching her seventh season in Columbia, has never hosted a regional in four postseason appearances. She hopes that changes this year.

“The way that I’ve put our schedule together, that’s my intention,” she said. “If we have the kind of season I think we can, I think I’ve put us in a position where we could potentially host. That’s certainly our goal to have the postseason here in front of the Gamecock fans and at our home field.”

The Gamecocks haven’t advanced to the Super Regionals since 2007, the same year they last held a regional at home.

Courtesy South Carolina Media Relations | Nickie Blue delivers a pitch during a game. The senior pitcher said her goal in her final season at South Carolina is to take her team to the next level, which could include hosting a regional.

“Hosting regionals would be a huge advantage for us,” senior pitcher Nickie Blue said. “Home-field advantage is something you can’t deny, so being able to host a regional and the first round of the NCAA Tournament would be a huge boost for our team.”

The regionals for NCAA softball start May 19.

And through the first 16 games of the season, the Gamecocks are putting themselves in a good position to be one of the 16 teams playing at home during the opening weekend of the tournament.

They are 14-2 and are ranked No. 32 in the USA Today poll and No. 33 by They’ve also won 14 of their first 16 for back-to-back seasons.

“This is definitely the best team I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Smith said. “We keep moving up on the chart, but it’s the way they put in the work and the culture they’ve created here. I think a lot of those things have led to our success on the field.”

It’s a far cry from the program Smith inherited when she took over and went 26-30 in her first season. She has increased her win total every year at South Carolina except for last season, when she won 38 games, the same amount she did in 2015.

The steady rise has been in part because of Blue and senior infielder Kaylea Snaer, who both arrived in the same year with the mindset of changing the mentality of the program.

Blue led the SEC in saves her freshman year and leads the team this year with seven wins. She also has a team-best 1.28 ERA. Snaer has started all 16 games this season, and she’s second among starters with a .533 slugging percentage.

“They’ve really shouldered a lot of the load through their career; that’s why we recruited them to be there,” Smith said. “They were both recruited under the pretense of changing the


The Gamecocks travel to California this weekend for the Judi Garman Classic and will play Northwestern, Indiana, No. 20 Arizona State, No. 7 UCLA and Long Beach State.

Graphic by Jeffrey Griffin | The Gamecocks will travel this weekend to the Judi Garman Classic, which hosts teams from around the country.

Six players on the team will return home to California, which delights the coach. Blue, a Colorado-native, will get to spend time with her family, who is driving from the Denver area.

“It’ll be nice to literally see them (her teammates) in (Fullerton) and how comfortable they are,” Blue said. “The thing I think I’ll like the most is seeing them relax at their home and then turning on their competitiveness to win the games we do have.”

They’ll return from the trip west and delve straight into conference play, traveling to Tennessee the following weekend. They will have to battle Florida and Alabama, two softball powerhouses that have won national titles in the past five years.

Smith said her team has a good mentality heading into a tough conference slate, especially against those two teams, and knows her team is talented enough to compete against the Gators and Tide and could play well enough to host a regional.

“Every single year that I’ve been here I felt like we could compete with those teams, but I think this year we truly believe it,” Blue said. “I think it’s in our mentality that we are in the SEC, you know?”

So you want to run a marathon: Training and fueling your body

There is a wide veriety of running shoes that cater to the many foot types, from the stable runner to the flat-footed runner.

By Parks Beson
Carolina Reporter

So you want to run a marathon.

Many people do and many people begin with no knowledge of how to train for the 26.2-mile trek. Every elite runner has been there. Dr. Ward Katsanis remembers when he was a novice on the marathon scene.

“Although it was my first marathon I adhered to the slow steady increase in mileage to avoid injury,” Katsanis said. The challenge was learning to hydrate and eat throughout.”

For the 53-year-old doctor, husband and father, the training began in 1993 when he was just 29 years old.

“The one thing I regret not knowing before that first race was to use more Vaseline and to put Band-Aids on my nipples. Boy, that hurts.”

Mind games

Between his demanding works as a gynecologic oncologist in Charleston, Katsanis still finds time to run each day. Marathon training, along with any run, starts with making time to run and just doing it, he said.

It is tough to remember every race after all those years, but Katsanis calculates that he has run 15 marathons over the two decades. in total. Each of them, he said, proved to be a mental challenge.

Cloudy days and cool temperatures are best for elite runners.

Along the 26.2 mile route during his first marathon, Katsanis had trouble and doubts around the 16th mile.

“Around the 16th and 17th mile is where I start to struggle a little bit and where I start to battle against my mind,” Katsanis said. “My mind is telling me to stop but I got to keep pressing on. After mile 18, I start counting down the miles in my head. I’ve never run a marathon that didn’t have me going against my mind.”

For him, Katsanis said that the marathon starts months before the first mile, with intensive.

“A lot of training and conditioning goes into marathons,” Katsanis said.  Twenty-minute runs turn into runs that can last three to four hours, starting early in the morning at 5:30 am.

All of these runs are not the same, according to Katsanis, with varying speed and difficulty. Katsanis says that there are three kinds of runs that should be touched on during training, building up to running close to the mileage that is the marathon.

“So you got three runs during your training period. You got your short runs, fartliks, and long runs,” he said. “Short runs, meaning running a little under your maximum miles for the week, a long run, usually one day where you run the maximum amount of miles for a run that week. A fartlik, f-a-r-t-l-i-k, is a run where you try to get faster for every mile that you run for that day.”

All this training for a four-hour run and a beer at the end. But Katsanis loves the feeling of crossing the finish line.

“It is a great accomplishment, the sense of achievement is huge,” said Katsanis. “Friends and family have supported you and helped you train, but at the end of the day, no one ran the race but you.”

A fit sole and healthy food

Grant Gibbs, a 20-year-old from the University of South Carolina, trains for his half marathon at 7 a.m.

Grant Gibbs, junior public relations major at the University of South Carolina, began his running career in high school. There he ran with his cross-country team and ran a half marathon coming out of high school.

Even though he hasn’t ran in the granddaddy of races, Gibbs that his training is similar to that of the marathon runner.

“Training for a half marathon is similar in the sense that you have to be physically and mentally in shape. You have to watch what you eat and eat a lot of it, because of the amount of calories that you are burning,” he said. “As long as you can push yourself over 10 miles regularly, you can run a half marathon.


A half marathon is 13.1 miles, because it is – you guessed it – half a marathon. Usually, a runner will attempt to run a half marathon before he or she tackles the full 26 miles.

A look at Gibbs’ training schedule

Running every day with the team took a toll on his sole – his shoe’s sole to be exact. Gibbs says that one of the most important aspects to training is finding the right kind of shoe for your feet. Gibbs says, for him, it is more about comfort and features than style and cost for him.

“I just got my shoes off of Amazon but it is very significant that you find shoes that are adaptable to your feet, Gibbs said. “People often try to buy the most expensive running shoes with a lot of support, but actually the better running shoes are the ones with less support and additional features because they allow you to run more naturally. You run best when your feet are in a more natural state.”

While mind and external body are important factors in the journey for the hardware at the end of the marathon, the internal body should be taken care of too.

Matt Bernthal, a University of South Carolina sports and management professor, knows about the importance of dieting and eating healthy.

“I don’t eat junk food, by any means. If I snack, it’s usually fruit or a Cliff bar,” Bernthal said. “What you eat right after you run is very important. Whatever I eat right after needs to be flushed to a four to one, carb to protein ratio. Egg sandwich on wheat toast or peanut butter on toast with a one percent chocolate milk is a good snack.”


Bernthal says that between dieting and training, running has become a lifestyle, with his family supporting and encouraging him along the way.

Columbia’s Riverfront Park is a popular paved 5-mile path along the Congaree River. It is used by walkers and joggers to train for big runs.

“My life hasn’t really changed because I already eat healthy and try to stay in shape,” Bernthal said. We try not to eat too much junk food and my family has always been active. They are fine with all the running that I do.”

This lifestyle is not one to be taken lightly, Bernthal said. At times, the time and effort that he puts into a marathon has made him feel like he does not have a life. This makes the decision of what distance to run a lot easier.

“The line when debating whether to train for a half marathon or a marathon is that you can train for a half marathon and still have a life,” Bernthal said. “If you are training for a marathon, there is a lot more time commitment involved and you are doing a lot more to your body.”

Both the half marathon and marathon take time and effort for the runners and the people supporting them.

Diet and exercise is very important as well as being in a healthy mental state throughout the training. It is a long journey and a big goal to achieve, taking a combination of body, soul, and mind.

But the end result is one that Katsanis can sum up easily.

“Either you did or you didn’t, and I did.”