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USC women keep tradition alive in Athens

The USC’s women’s team and its new coach will continue a 10-year spring tradition when the Gamecocks head to the NCAA East Regional, May 8-10 in Athens, Ga.

Former Duke assistant Kalen Anderson, who took over the USC program after the resignation of Kristi Coggins in midseason, and her team are coming off a fifth-place finish at the SEC Championship last week. The Gamecocks are one of six SEC squads playing in the postseason.

All six — SEC champion Florida, regional host Georgia, USC, Auburn, Tennessee and Vanderbilt — will compete at the UGA Golf Course. Other regionals are in Austin, Texas, and Lincoln, Calif.

Sophomore Benedicte Toumpsin of Belgium, a first-team All-SEC selection, leads the Gamecocks with a 74.07 stroke average. USC placed ninth in last year’s regional and failed to advance to the NCAA Championship. The Gamecocks last reached the national final in 2003.

The East Regional includes eight conference champions. Among them are Florida, Duke (ACC), Furman (Southern) and Charleston Southern (Big South). College of Charleston player Steffi Kirchmayr qualified as an individual for the Austin regional.

Sixty-three teams qualified for the NCAA field, with 21 in each regional. The top eight finishers from each regional advance to the national championship at the University of New Mexico Championship Course in Albuquerque, May 20-23.

The Gamecocks are ranked 31st nationally by Golfstat.

Division II playoffs. Three-time national champion USC Aiken heads a five-team contingent from South Carolina headed to the NCAA Division II playoffs.

The Pacers, who won titles from 2004-2006 and captured this year’s Peach Belt Conference title (their eighth), are the top seed in the Southeast Regional, which will be paired with the Atlantic Regional in a super regional at Belmont, N.C.’s Point Lake Golf Club. Also in the Southeast are Lander (No. 5 seed) and South Atlantic Conference champion Newberry (No. 7).

Coker is seeded third in the Atlantic Region, and Anderson is seeded fifth. Individuals who qualified for the super regional include Limestone’s Brad Williams and Craig Parris (Atlantic) and North Greenville’s Brandon Coggins.

The winner of each super regional and the top individual advance to the Division II nationals in Houston, May 14-17. The next three best teams from the Atlantic/Southeast super regional also move on.

AJGA Cliffs. Patrick Winther of Denmark shot rounds of 66-70-136 for a five-shot win in the AJGA Cliffs Championship, held at The Cliffs at Keowee Falls in Salem. Logan Harrell of Huntersville, N.C., was second at 141.

Florence’s Mitchell Gray and Easley’s Corbin Mills finished at 146. Other S.C. players: Crawford Reeves, Greenville, 147; Davis Lee, Hilton Head, 153; Taylor Sharber, Florence, 162. In the girls division, Seneca’s Austin Ernst tied for second at 141, two shots behind winner Annie Park of Levittown, N.Y.

Chip shots. The S.C. State women’s team placed third at the Women’s Collegiate Championship in Stone Mountain, Ga., trailing Bethune-Cookman and Jackson State. The Bulldogs wind up their season at the PGA National Minority Championship, May 9-11 at Port St. Lucie, Fla. ...

Reach senior writer Gillespie at (803) 771-8304.