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November 9, 2023

Something to Crow About

• As of November 8, 2023, all four of South Carolina’s fall sports rank in the Top 40 in average attendance. Men’s (4,306) and women’s soccer (4,395) each lead the nation in their respective sports in average game attendance. Football is 16th, averaging 77,797 fans per game and volleyball is averaging 1,803 fans per game, 35th in the nation.
• On October 12, 2023, eight former Gamecocks were inducted into the USC Lettermen’s Hall of Fame. The 2023 class included Allison Brennan (swimming and diving), Ernest Dye (football), Eric Ecker (men’s golf), Shaun Gortman (women’s basketball), Wallie Jones (baseball), Chris Mayotte (men’s tennis), Kim Pietro (softball) and Demetria Washington (women’s track and field).
• During the 2023 Fall sports season, four former Gamecocks will have had their jersey retired. Men’s soccer star Charles Arndt had his jersey retired on Sept. 22, football’s Alshon Jeffery’s jersey was retired on Sept. 23, women’s basketball star Tiffany Mitchell will have her jersey retired on Nov. 12, 2023, and equestrian standout Katherine Schmidt Butler will be honored after the Oklahoma State meet on Nov. 17, 2023.
• In 2022-23, for the fifth straight year, South Carolina led all schools in the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll. Carolina led the SEC with 416 honorees in 2022-23, including 112 from fall sports, 63 from winter, 110 from spring and 131 first-year students. Since 2015, Carolina leads all SEC schools with 3,318 on the list.
• Student-athletes at USC ended the Spring 2023 semester with a departmental grade point average (GPA) of 3.39. It is the 33rd-consecutive semester with a departmental GPA above 3.0.
• South Carolina captured its fifth-straight Palmetto Series trophy in 2022-23. The Gamecocks won the head-to-head points competition against Clemson with a final score of 8-5. Carolina has won all five years of the Palmetto Series.
• The Gamecocks finished the 2022-23 season ranked 33rd with 671.05 points in the final LEARFIELD Directors’ Cup Division I Standings, measuring all sports among Division I schools. The finish is among Carolina’s top 11 finishes in the 29 years of the Cup program and is one spot ahead of last year’s 34th place finish. Carolina has been the highest ranked Palmetto State program in the LEARFIELD Cup in 21 of the last 24 years, including 2022-23.
• Membership in the Gamecock Club has increased to more than 19,300, a number that is the highest since 2015 and 3rd highest on record. This is an increase of more than 3,100 from last year. The renewal rate from last year is above 95 percent. Gamecock Club donations help provide aid that includes tuition fees, meal costs, housing costs, medical costs, injury assistance and other educational needs.
• Gamecocks+ is the official content network of South Carolina Athletics, featuring original storytelling content – above and beyond the already high-level video that fans have come to expect and enjoy – including new, never-before-seen, behind-the-scenes access, exclusive interviews, archival footage and so much more. Access to Gamecocks+ is included at no extra cost for all Gamecock Club members, Roost level and above. Fans who are not already members and want to watch Gamecocks+ content can do so by joining the Gamecock Club.

• Jordan Montgomery and the Texas Rangers won a World Series championship with a 4-1 series win over Arizona. Montgomery was 3-1 in the 2023 postseason with a 2.90 ERA and 17 strikeouts in six games pitched and five starts.
• Montgomery was joined in the World Series by Christian Walker, who was at first base for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Carolina had three players in the postseason as Whit Merrifield and the Toronto Blue Jays were in the Wild Card round.
• Carolina’s 30-game SEC schedule was announced in September and features home series against Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Georgia, Texas A&M and Arkansas. The Gamecocks open SEC play at Ole Miss on March 15

• Carolina opened its 2023-24 regular season with an 82-53 win over USC Upstate on Nov. 6 at Colonial Life Arena. Four Gamecocks scored in double figures – Ta’lon Cooper and Meechie Johnson with 15 points each, while B.J. Mack had 13 and Myles Stute scored 10 points.
• Collin Murray-Boyles, who is out for an undetermined amount of time at the start of the season as he recovers from mono, was named by ESPN as the best freshman outside of the ESPN 100 Top 50.

• South Carolina opens the season ranked sixth in the AP Poll and fourth in the USA Today/WBCA Coaches Poll. The Gamecocks have been ranked in 207 consecutive AP Polls, which is the third-longest active streak in the nation and 12th longest all-time.
• History will be made when South Carolina and Notre Dame play in the first NCAA women’s basketball regular-season game on Parisian soil. The two teams are part of the Aflac Oui-Play event in Paris on November 6. The Gamecocks defeated the #10 Irish, 100-71.
• Senior center Kamilla Cardoso picked up a variety of preseason honors – Wade Trophy Watch List, Lisa Leslie Award Watch List, Preseason All-SEC First Team
• Senior transfer Te-Hina Paopao was named to the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard of the Year Award Watch List and was a Preseason All-SEC Second-Team selection by the league’s coaches. Junior forward Sania Feagin was on the Katrina McClain Award Watch List for the third-straight season.

• The Gamecocks sent two pairs to the AVCA Collegiate Pairs Championship, hosted at John Hunt Park in Huntsville, Ala. from Nov. 3-5. Skylar Allen and Jolie Cranford, and Rebeca Olariu and Allison Coens teamed up for South Carolina.
• In the final weekend of October, Allen and Cranford placed third out of 26 pairs at the AVCA national qualifier tournament, also in Huntsville. The two went 5-1 over the two-day event, with their lone loss coming against the eventual tournament champions.
• In July, the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced its annual Team Academic Awards. South Carolina was one of only 46 Division I beach programs to be recognized and were also one of just 11 Division I beach programs to be part of the Honor Roll, given to teams in the top 20 percent for team GPA in each division. The team is part of an exclusive group with academic and on-court success, as it is one of four beach volleyball programs to be in the honor roll while also being ranked in the top 20 of the final AVCA coaches poll of the 2023 season. Individually, every member of the team made either the SEC’s Spring or First-Year Honor Rolls and four Gamecocks made the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association’s All-Academic team.

• The Gamecocks finished 8th at the 2023 Cross Country SEC Championship hosted by South Carolina, the first Top-10 finish since 2012 and the best team finish since 2001.
• Silan Ayyildiz led South Carolina at the SEC Championship, finishing 7th overall in her Carolina Cross Country debut after clocking the second fastest 6K in program history at 19:56.2.
• Ayyildiz’s 7th-place finish helped her land a spot on the First Team All-SEC as well as the SEC All-Freshman Team as she was just the fourth Top-10 individual runner in Gamecock history and the second-highest individual finish in program history.
• Freshman phenom Judy Kosgei finished 11th at the SEC Championship, earning a spot alongside Ayyildiz on the SEC All-Freshman Team as well as landing on the Second Team All-SEC.
• Kosgei broke both the 5K and 6K program records this season as she now holds both marks, running the 5K in 15:52.9 and the 6K in 19:54.9.
• Kosgei has won three SEC weekly honors (2x SEC Women’s Runner of the Week & once named SEC Women’s Freshman Runner of the Week), the first Gamecock to do so in both a single season and during a collegiate career – she was also the first Gamecock to ever receive Women’s Cross Country National Runner of the Week on Sept. 19.
• The Gamecocks have made significant strides this season under first year head coach Tim Hall and distance coach Brock Moreaux – Carolina set 10 of the Top-20 program records in the 5K this season as well as three of the Top-20 6K marks during this fall campaign.

• The Gamecocks are 4-3 in the fall portion of their schedule, with one competition left – Nov. 17 vs. Oklahoma State at One Wood Farm. Carolina registered wins over #9 UC Davis and #10 UT Martin.
• Following the meet with Oklahoma State, the equestrian program will honor Gamecock great Katherine Schmidt Butler with a jersey retirement ceremony at One Wood Farm.
• Carolina is ranked #7 in the latest NCEA dual rankings.
• A pair of Gamecocks were named NCEA Rider of the Month for the respective events for September. Sophomore Natalie Jayne earned the honor in both Flat and Fences while Junior Chloe Stephenson was selected for her rides in Reining.

• Jalon Kilgore was one of 14 players selected as a semifinalist for the Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award.
• Xavier Legette was named a Midseason Second-Team All-American by the Associated Press.
• Spencer Rattler (twice), Tree Babalade, T.J. Sanders and Alex Huntley all earned SEC Player of the Week recognition during the first half of the season.

• The Gamecocks have had two top five finishes during the fall season – placing 4th at the Daniel Island Intercollegiate (Oct. 29-31 at Charleston) and 4th at the Folds of Honor Collegiate (Sept. 4-6 at Grand Haven, Mich.).
• Redshirt sophomore transfer Frankie Harris earned SEC Golfer of the Week honors after coming off his first career victory at the Daniel Island Intercollegiate (Oct. 29-31). Harris shot 209 (-7) with consecutive rounds under par. He poured in 11 birdies and made just four bogeys over the course of 54 holes.
• Carolina starts the spring portion of its schedule on Feb. 11-13 at the Puerto Rico Classic.

• The 6th-ranked Gamecocks have finished in the top 5 in all four of its events this fall, including claiming the title at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate (Sept. 11-13 at Lake Elmo, Minn.).
• Former Gamecock great Kristy McPherson will be inducted into the WGCA Players Hall of Fame on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023. She’s the 87th member of the WGCA Players Hall of Fame and the first Gamecock to be inducted to the prestigious club.
• By virtue of her medalist finish at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate, junior Louise Rydqvist received an invitation to play in the ANNIKA Driven by Gainbridge at Pelican LPGA event, Nov. 9-12.
• Louise Rydqvist was named SEC Golfer of the Week and freshman Maylis Lamoure was named SEC Freshman of the Week for their efforts in the Gamecocks’ win at the ANNIKA.

• The Gamecocks advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and finished the season with a 6-9-3 record.
• The Gamecocks earned an upset win over then-#24 Kentucky on the road September 15, their first ranked win since 2019.
• Ben Alexander was named the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week after helping the Gamecocks defeat the Wildcats in Lexington for the first time since 2012.
• Ethan Dekel Daks earned the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week after scoring the game-winning goal with five seconds left in the match against Old Dominion on Oct. 7.
• Jordan Illian was named the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week for scoring two goals and an assist against Coastal Carolina on Oct. 27.
• Illian became the first Carolina freshman since 2007 to score a brace and his five-point night was the first since 2013.
• The Gamecocks earned the No. 7 seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and defeated second-seeded and No. 1 ranked UCF 2-1 in the opening round Nov. 5.
• It’s the first time in program history they have defeated the No. 1 ranked team in the country. It marks the first time since 2000 that Carolina has defeated two ranked opponents on the road in a season and the first time since 2016 defeating two ranked teams in a season.

• The Gamecocks finished 2nd overall in the SEC Standings and are currently ranked #16 in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll.
• Carolina has been ranked nationally in the top-25 all season, reaching as high as 7th.
• Reached the SEC Tournament for the 17th straight season.
• Undefeated in the SEC regular season for the 4th time in program history.
• On Monday, the Gamecocks were selected to participate in its 11th straight NCAA Tournament, 16th overall. Carolina will host James Madison on Nov. 10 at Stone Stadium.
• The following Gamecocks were selected for SEC post-season honors by the league’s coaches:
o All-SEC First Team Forward, Senior Captain: Cat Barry
o All-SEC First Team Defender and SEC Defender of the Year: Sophomore Gracie Falla
o All-SEC First Team Goalkeeper and SEC Goalkeeper of the Year: 5th-year senior Heather Hinz
o All-SEC Freshman team: Reagan Schubach

• Kianna Jones and Kiki Estrada representing their home countries, Canada, and Mexico, respectively, at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. Jones and team Canada earned the bronze medal, while Estrada and team Mexico finished in fourth place.

• South Carolina’s women have started the season 3-1-1 with two of their wins coming on the road.
• Sophomore Amy Riordan broke both the pool and school record in South Carolina’s dual versus North Carolina.
• Junior Michael Laitarovsky has been undefeated in the 100 back, having recorded wins in all four meets so far this season.

• Junior Casey Hoole was ranked No. 56 in the preseason ITA Singles Rankings
• Through fall play, Josh Goffi’s five-man squad went a combined 44-29 (.603) in singles play
• The Gamecocks recorded their fifth consecutive year with a player advancing to the singles quarterfinals at the Carolina Regional Championships
• South Carolina’s freshman, Jelani Sarr and Sean Daryabeigi both recorded the first ranked wins of their respective careers during fall play.

• Three Gamecocks were represented in the ITA Preseason Rankings – No. 7 Ayana Akli, No. 25 Sarah Hamner, and No. 106 Shahar Biran. Akli and Hamner are also ranked No. 10 in the nation in the doubles rankings.
• Both Hamner and Akli advanced to the semifinals of the ITA All-American Championships
• Elise Mills won the singles back draw at the Carolina Regional Championships
• Hamner and Akli both competed in the ITA National Fall Championships with both Gamecocks advancing to the quarterfinals and Akli finishing the fall season as the national runner-up.

• Tim Hall was named the head coach of the University of South Carolina Track & Field program on June 23, 2023. The 7th head coach in Gamecock track and field history, Hall comes to USC after serving as a five-year stint as Associate Head Coach at Kentucky. He was the USTFCCCA Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year for five consecutive years (2019-23).
• The Gamecocks will open their 2023-24 season on Dec. 8 at the Clemson Opener indoor meet.

• Gamecock fans are out in record-setting numbers this fall. A crowd of 3,293 fans weathered a tropical storm on Aug. 30 against Clemson, the total is the second-highest for a home game in program history, just behind the record of 3,458 (also against Clemson, 8/25/2018). That came after an opening-weekend total of 5,340 fans for the two-game series against Towson. The team saw three of the top five most well-attended matches in program history happen in the span of six days. The team has more games with 2,000 or more fans this season (5) than in the previous 49 seasons of volleyball at South Carolina combined (3) and six of the top-10 most-attended matches have come through the team’s first eight home games. The team set a single-season home attendance record on Oct. 27 against Arkansas with 722 in attendance to push the season total to 19,230 fans making their way to the team’s 10 home games to date. The team surpassed the previous record of 18,797, set in 2018.
• Senior Ellie Ruprich became just the eighth woman in program history to reach 400 career blocks thanks to a five-block night against No. 10 Arkansas on Oct. 27. She is just the third woman in the modern scoring era (since 2001) to reach 400 career blocks, joining Darian Dozier (2012-15) and Mikayla Robinson (2017-21). All five of Ruprich’s blocks were solo stuffs, moving her up to 93 for her career and are the most by a Gamecock in a four-set match since Stephanie Pflughaupt against Rice 37 years ago (10/18/1986).
• On Sept. 24, senior Riley Whitesides reached 1,000 career points in the team’s match at Missouri, making her the fourth Gamecock in the last decade and ninth overall since 2001 to reach the milestone.
• Junior Oby Anadi’s 15 total blocks against Cincinnati on Sept. 8 broke Mikayla Robinson’s single-game record of 14 for most in a match during the rally-scoring era (since 2001). Only three other women in the program’s 50 season have finished a match with more total blocks. Thanks to her efforts, the team finished the match with 21 total blocks, the most in a match of any length since Oct. 8, 2004.
• Ellie Ruprich earned the nod as SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 4. It’s the team’s first honor of the season and the fourth weekly award of Ruprich’s career (2x Freshman of the Week, 2x Defensive). Ruprich finished with 25 total blocks in wins over Clemson, Miami and Troy. Ruprich averaged 1.92 blocks per set, almost matching the combined total of the three opposing teams over the course of the week.
• Senior Kiune Fletcher had a career night on Sept. 29, when she hit .410 with a career-high 20 kills on the road at Ole Miss. That single-game total was more than she had her entire freshman season (12 matches).
• In July, the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced its annual Team Academic Awards. The indoor program ran its streak to 14 years in a row on the list, after having a program-record 16 individuals make the SEC’s academic honor roll in the fall and five others on the conference’s first-year honor roll.