SPARTANBURG, S.C. (Aug. 31, 2023) – South Carolina Cross Country is set to begin its 2023 campaign on Friday night in Spartanburg, S.C. at 6:30 p.m. at the Eye Opener, hosted by USC Upstate. The Eye Opener will be run at the Roger Milliken Center, the site of the 2023 Southeast Regional Meet on Friday, Nov. 10.
The Gamecocks, under new direction of Head Coach Tim Hall and Cross Country Coach Brock Moreaux, will be competing in the 5K circuit following the high school event that begins at 5:45 p.m.
Live results for the season opener can be found by clicking here.
There will be a total of 20 teams competing this weekend, including in-state rival Clemson. The Gamecocks will also be going up against the likes of Furman who is ranked 30th nationally and fifth in the Southeast Region. South Carolina will also compete against another Top-10 Southeast Regional team in Liberty, currently ranked ninth in the region.
South Carolina will be taking 25 runners to the Eye Opener, including 14 returners from last season’s squad. Hope Dominique highlights the returners from last year’s squad leading the team in both the SEC Championship and the 2022 Southeast Regional. Dominique enters the season with a personal best time of 17:59.0 in the 5K, ranked 12th all time in Gamecock history. She also holds the eighth-fastest 6K time in program history, running 21:12.17 at the SEC Championship last season.
Dominique will be joined by a trio of sophomores from last season’s team that provided a spark all season long: Anna Boyd, Gabriella Gait-Smith, and Ella Zeigler. Gait-Smith, the South Africa native, was the third fastest Gamecock at the SEC Championship and the Southeast Regional, carrying a personal best time of 18:11.50 in the 5K and 21:38.67 in the 6K. Her time in the 6K at the SEC Championship ranks 16th all-time in program history. Boyd ran the 17th fastest 6K time in program history at the SEC Championship, clocking 21:39.20. Meanwhile, Zeigler was the fifth scorer for the Gamecocks at the Southeast Regional.
There will be 11 Gamecocks making their cross country debut this weekend, including Sylvia Chelangat and Maria Lombardi who competed during the indoor and outdoor track season last spring. Nine of the 11 new faces to the cross country program are freshmen.