2014-15 Year in Troy

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The 2014-15 USC athletics' season is officially over. Before we move on to 2015-16, celebrate a tremendous campaign, which culminated in the 123rd national championship in school history.

Athletically, our student-athletes were drenched in glory, including 47 All-American first team selections, seven individual NCAA champions and two National Players of the Year. In the bigger picture, the spring was a record-setting academic semester, highlighted by a 3.0 GPA across the department.

Of the 21 teams, 13 finished in the national Top 10, while 18 were in the Top 25. Along with sand volleyball's AVCA national title, women's tennis, women's indoor track, men's swimming and diving, and men's tennis were conference champions.

The words will never do the moments justice, so enjoy another "Year in Troy" before we turn the calendar.

2014-15 Hansen Medal Winners

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Men's swimmer Cristian Quintero and women's tennis player Zoe Scandalis checked every box during their time at USC. For their exemplary performance and achievements as scholars, athletes and leaders, the two seniors were awarded the 2014-15 Tom Hansen Conference Medals.

Click here for the full story.

Quintero's list of accolades is hard to fit on one screen. The 17-time All-American carried the Trojans to their first Pac-12 title in 36 years this season. Over his career, he won six individual NCAA championships and seven conference crowns. He earned Pac-12 All-Academic second team honors this spring after getting honorable mention in 2014.

Scandalis was a four-year fixture near the top of the Women of Troy's lineup. A three-time Pac-12 All-Academic First Team honoree and a 2014 Capital One Academic All-District Team pick, Scandalis also is a two-time ITA All-American, the 2014 ITA Southwest Regional Singles Champion and was a team captain in the Trojans' run to the NCAA Semifinals this season.

A Legacy of Extraordinary

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A tribute to Michael L.J. Apuzzo, MD, PhD (hon) by Russ Romano, Associate Athletic Director for Athletic Medicine

images.jpgMichael Apuzzo, affectionately referred to as Dr. "A", can be considered the original modern day Sports Neurosurgeon.  He has volunteered his time and expertise with USC Athletics for nearly four decades.  He is retiring from USC in July and will embark on the next chapter of his life.  I am forever grateful for his contributions to USC Athletics, which preceded me long before I arrived over 21 years ago.  

Dr. Apuzzo did not serve USC to fill time or self promote. In fact, it was the exact opposite.  Dr. Apuzzo is recognized as one of the world's best known and respected neurological surgeons.  Among his enormous accomplishments at USC Keck School of Medicine and the LA County General Hospital, he revolutionized approaches to brain surgery, merged technologies to improve invasive and non-invasive techniques, and proved a true academician.  An author of over 800 peer reviewed journal articles, he has written books on Brain Surgery and served as the editor for the most prominent neurosurgical journals to advance the field of neurological surgery from an academic perspective.  Dr. A has mentored countless neurosurgical residents, faculty physicians, athletic trainers and athletic equipment managers to push themselves to be extraordinary. 

Doctor A is also our "original" team neurosurgeon at USC.  He volunteered his time and expertise long before the emergence of topics like dementia, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, post concussive syndrome and other long-term effects due to brain injury.  Due to his leadership, USC Athletic Medicine has always been on the cutting edge of sport-related neurological issues.  Serving as a neurological consultant for the New York Giants for 16 years and the National Football League Committee on Head and Spinal Trauma, he established the exchange of the most current evidence based concepts for player safety with USC and those organizations.  Dr. Apuzzo was appointed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to give the 2007 keynote address on the topic of concussion to all NFL medical personnel.

On behalf of USC Athletics, I want to recognize Dr. Apuzzo publicly with this article.  He is a fantastic doctor who put his patients first, a scientist who modernized brain surgery with technological advances, an academic whose contributions will live forever and an amazing human being with a warm spirit.  Dr. Apuzzo recognizes the potential in all people who cross his path to become extraordinary.  I wish Dr. A the best in the next chapter of his life as he transitions back to his home state of Connecticut and his continued involvement with our program from his distinguished adjunct faculty position at the Yale School of Medicine.  Thank you Dr. A, you are a giant in your field, a mentor to all of us and a true friend.  Fight On!

London Calls, Stevie Answers

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USC men's tennis alum Steve Johnson picked up his first ever Wimbledon win today by defeating Lukas Lacko 6-3, 6-7 (5), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. Johnson has reached the third round of the other three major tournaments, but this is his first foray into round two at The Championships.

While he has made a habit of playing five-set matches during his young career, Johnson, ranked No. 52 in the world, will need to freshen up his legs for a tough match-up with No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov on Wednesday. Thankfully, he kept many of the points short against Lacko, smacking 33 aces and 80 winners. All the Wimbledon action is live on ESPN this week.

Before the tournament began, Johnson got to know the locals by judging the Wimbledon Dog Show. Spoiler alert: Molly the beagle wins it!

Monica's Mark

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

As a senior, USC women's water polo's Monica Vavic closed out her collegiate career with just about every accolade possible. Already the USC and the MPSF all-time leading scorer, Vavic tallied one more impressive mark last week, becoming the program's first player to be named to the All-American First Team four times. Teammates Stephania Haralabidis and Eike Daube joined Vavic as repeat honorees while Ioanna Haralabidis, Victoria Chamorro and Brigitta Games made the list for the first time.

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Vavic scored in every game this year, totaling an even 100 goals on the season (the second most by a Trojan in a single campaign). Her 291 career goals broke both the USC and MPSF career scoring records. A member of USC's 2013 NCAA Championship team, Vavic was also the first Trojan to ever be named a four-time All-MPSF First Team honoree.


USC to the GFL

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

IMG_2761(1).JPGUSC is known for its unparalleled NFL presence, sending more alumni to the league than any other school in the country. Something a little less known, however, is that the Trojans are represented in international football leagues as well.

Estrus Crayton, a USC tailback from 1991-92, played in the German Football League for nearly 19 years, winning seven German Bowls in his career playing for seven different teams. One of the all-time greats in Germany, Crayton is part of the "Tailback U" tradition as the Trojans leading rusher in 1992 (700 yards).

Watch Out World

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

USC made a statement last weekend at the USATF Outdoor and Junior Championships in Eugene, with Trojans capturing four Junior Titles, seven spots on the U.S. Junior Team and five tickets to the World Championships in Beijing.

For a complete recap and list of results from last weekend's two meets, click here.

An outstanding group of young Trojans proved that the future is bright for USC Track & Field at the USATF Junior Championships last weekend in Eugene. Freshman Randall Cunningham won the men's Junior high jump title at 7-2.50 while freshman Dior Hall (pictured) won the Junior 100m HH title in 13.02. Fellow freshmen Kendall Ellis and Deanna Hill won the Junior 400m title and Junior 200m title respectively, clocking times of 52.32 and 23.03.

Joining them on the U.S. Junior Team are freshmen Marquis Morris, who placed second in the men's Junior 110m HH, Ky Westbrook, who finished second in the women's Junior 200m and Robert Ford, who secured second in the men's Junior 800m. The seven Trojans will compete at the Pan Am Junior Championships in Edmonton, Canada from July 31 to August 2.

To read more about the young Trojans' fantastic weekend, click here.

The Trojans were well-represented at the USATF Outdoor Championships as well with senior BeeJay Lee becoming the first Trojan to reach the U.S. 100m and 200m finals in the same season since 1981. He placed sixth and fourth respectively, just missing the cut to qualify for a spot on the U.S. National Team, but five other Trojans will travel to Beijing to represent Team USA.

Redshirt senior Conor McCullough took second in the men's hammer throw and will compete alongside former USC athletes Allyson Felix (400m champion), Aleec Harris (110m HH), Bryshon Nellum (400m) and Jesse Williams (high jump) at the World Championships from August 22-30.


Sky's The Limit

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

It's been a long road to her childhood dream for former USC women's basketball guard Jacki Gemelos, but last week the 26-year-old debuted in her first-ever WNBA game for the Chicago Sky, reminding everyone what the meaning of 'Fight On' really is.

"This has been a day I've been waiting for since I was 7 years old," Gemelos said, as quoted by the AP's Doug Feinberg who profiled Gemelos' return from five ACL tears in an article last week. "I'm ready for this, this is the next step in my career."

Click here to read Feinberg's complete article.

Gemelos was continually resilient as she sustained knee injury after knee injury at USC, ultimately being selected by the Minnesota Lynx in the 2012 WNBA Draft. She continued to battle injuries and was cut from the team's training camp in 2013, prompting her to move overseas to pursue her basketball career. Gemelos thrived in the Italian League last season, averaging 14 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists for Umbertide, which opened up the opportunity to train back in America with the Sky. On June 17, she officially signed her first WNBA contract and two days later played in her first WNBA game.

jacki.jpgPhoto credit: Ned Dishman/NBAE

Welcoming The Challenge

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

The 2015 USC women's volleyball schedule has been announced and includes tough competition for the Trojans in both non-conference and conference play. The Women of Troy will appear in 18 live broadcast games on the Pac-12 Networks - the most of any school in the conference - including early home matches against North Carolina and 2014 NCAA runner-up BYU.

Click here to view the Trojans' complete schedule.

"We like the challenges that our schedule presents," said head coach Mick Haley. "We're hopeful that the tough start will prepare us to contend for the Pac-12 Conference championship."

The Trojans will play other talented teams in non-conference play including Kentucky, Creighton, Oklahoma and New Mexico. The team's conference schedule doesn't get any easier, featuring four Pac-12 opponents who were regional NCAA semifinalists last year.

USC opens its season at home with the Women of Troy Baden Invitational scheduled for August 28-29. The Pac-12 opener will be September 23 against UCLA at Pauley Pavilion and will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Networks.


A Fitting Finish

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

stubbs-benchwinner.jpgOn Thursday night, Garrett Stubbs won the Johnny Bench Award given to the nation's best catcher, becoming the first Trojan to do so since Jeff Clement in 2005. After a postseason full of well-deserved accolades for the senior, this final honor is a fitting end to Stubbs' remarkable season and impactful career at USC.

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"I am excited and humbled to be selected for this prestigious award," said Stubbs at the award reception. "Bringing this honor back to USC and its storied baseball program, which my team returned to prominence this year, means a great deal to me."

From a 22-32 overall record his freshman year, Stubbs became the heart and soul of the Trojan turnaround of late, leading his team to its best regular season record since 2001 (37-19) and its first playoff berth since 2005. He played phenomenally in USC's NCAA Regional appearance, catching 38 innings in four games, leading the team with a .563 batting average and earning Lake Elsinore Regional MVP honors.

His performance at the regional only solidified his standing as one of the biggest contributors to the Trojans' success in 2015. He finished the year with a .346 batting average (second-best on the team) and team-leading 20 stolen bases. Stubbs led the Pac-12 in caught-stealing percentage (52.8) and had only three errors in 468 chances all season. His impressive play earned him a deluge of postseason awards, being named an ABCA/Rawlings First Team All-American, a Baseball American First Team All-American, a Gold Glove honoree, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Pac-12.

Click here to watch his 2015 highlight video

While his USC playing days are now behind him, Stubbs' baseball future is just getting started. The Houston Astros selected him with the 229th pick in the eighth round of the 2015 MLB Draft, and are counting on the Trojan with a ton of talent and even more heart to start his professional career the way he finished his college one.