Nothing Free About It

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USC senior Cristian Quintero took his momentum from dominating Pac-12 Championships into the NCAA Championships by sprinting to the national title in the 500y free.  He won the NCAA crown in 4:10.02 leading wire-to-wire by a second or more for most of the race.

"I feel awesome," Quintero said after the race. "Since the beginning I felt really strong. I knew I had this. I had this in me all the time. I'm really proud of this. I'm really glad with my last performance. It was my last 500 free and I really wanted to make a good performance and I did."

Click here for the Day 1 recap.

After Day 1, the Trojans are in eighth place as a team.  The action continues today through Saturday in Austin, Texas.


Lights, Camera, Action

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The USC women's sand volleyball team made history on Sunday as part of the first ever televised sand volleyball match on Pac-12 Networks. The Trojans were the stars of the show, sweeping Oregon and Cal State Northridge 5-0 at Merle Norman Stadium. 

Click here for the dual match recap.

"This is making history," said head coach Anna Collier in an interview after the match. "Everyone knows that TV makes your sport." Overall the coach felt that her team's first ever day on television was a great success. Check out Coach Collier's complete interview on Pac-12 Networks here:

Stevens Academic Center Spotlight: Flora Bolonyai

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

USC athletes are more than just champions on the field, court, diamond, and pool, they're champions in the classroom as well. Each week, we will get to know one of these scholarly Trojans a little better in our student-athlete spotlight. 

Name: Flora Bolonyai
Year: Senior
Sport: Women's Water Polo
Major: Economics and Mathematics

Sarah Bergstrom (SB): How did you first find out about USC and how did you come to play water polo here?

Flora Bolonyai (FB): When I was a senior in high school I knew that it was my goal to train in the United States and play water polo there. USC was one of my first choices actually, because my cousin went there. So I had already heard of the school and USC also needed a goalie for the next year. It was perfect. 

SB: How was it adapting that first year to living in the U.S. and being so far from home?

FB: I think it was just hard to be far from home and far from my family and friends. That's still hard sometimes. But I also came to a beautiful place and USC is an amazing school. The campus is beautiful with the fountains and gardens and the weather is never cold. I was accepted by my team from the first moment and their support made it easier. 

SB: What made you decide to study economics and mathematics? That sounds like a tough major to balance with water polo.

FB: I have always liked math. I also knew that I was going to need to spend a lot of my focus on water polo so I didn't want to overwhelm myself just doing pure math. I decided to mix math with something else. At USC you have the option to mix math with economics so I thought that was a good choice. 

SB: That's funny that you think combining math and economics allows you to focus on water polo more because when I think about majoring in something like that I assume it would be a ton of work. Has it been difficult to balance that major with water polo?

FB: It's challenging but you know, if you manage your time and plan accordingly then I think it's definitely manageable.

SB: Do you know what you might want to do one day when your water polo career is over with that math and economics background?

FB: I am potentially thinking of going to grad school eventually to get my Master's degree in financial math to become either a statistician or something like that. But those are vague plans (laughs) I'm still not very sure. 

SB: So I've heard that you're interested in traveling a lot after you graduate. You have already traveled quite a bit for water polo. Where are some places you would like to visit that you haven't been to yet?

FB: I really want to go to Australia, I've never been there before. I also want to go to South America. But I don't want to go to play water polo. I just want to travel and see what's out there. 

SB: Speaking of traveling, you had your first Olympic experience in 2012 in London. What was that like and what were some of the things you learned from your time with the Olympic team?

FB: I didn't quite realize how few people get to experience that until I was there. Those are the only 10,000 people from the entire world, out of seven billion people, who get to be a part of the Olympics. I wish we had medaled. Finishing fourth is a tough memory to have. But being there and experiencing the atmosphere is something I'll never forget. I'm glad I got to go then because now I know what to expect in the next Olympics. Being there, representing my country, is something that I can be very proud of. Knowing that your entire country is cheering for you is something that is so special. 

SB: What does it mean to you to be a USC athlete and a part of the Trojan Family? 

FB: I think it's similar to being a member of my national team and representing my country when I play for them. That's how I feel when I play for USC. I'm representing the Trojan Family and my school. It's become a big part of my identity. 

SB: What has it meant to you to get to be a part of this USC program, especially considering the success you've had recently?

FB: I think it was one of the best decisions I've ever made when I decided four years ago to come to USC. I have learned so much from being a student-athlete. I learned how to manage time, I learned how to work on a team, and I learned how to handle criticism. I have improved a lot as a person and as a water polo player too. I'm so grateful I had this opportunity. I'm just trying to get the most out of my last season and the time I've had here. 

Kids Take Over the Ballpark

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USC baseball is offering a special $20 ticket package for the Sunday, April 13 game vs. Utah (1 p.m. first pitch) which includes one adult ticket, one child ticket, one kids take over the ballpark t-shirt, one kids take over the ballpark autograph book, and two hot dogs, drinks and chips.

Click here for tickets!

All season long, kids 12 and under are admitted FREE into USC baseball games at Dedeaux Field.


2014 Spring Practice #5: Notes

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The USC defense is itching to hit someone, and the Trojans will get their chance on Saturday.
  • Saturday's practice at the Coliseum starts at 11 a.m. and is open to the public.  The fans that come downtown will be treated to the most action of the spring to date. "We'll be in full pads Saturday," said head coach Steve Sarkisian. "We'll have a live period in practice where we'll let the guys really tackle."  Sarkisian estimated 25-30 plays will be live. The offensive period will also be less scripted.
  • Sarkisian also announced that practices will be in the morning this fall, although not the sunrise practices from two years ago. He expects the team will be on field from about 8:15 a.m. to 10.
  • In the secondary, the Trojans are relying on a pair of sophomores at safety.  Su'a Cravens returns as a Freshman All-American, but Leon McQuay played more sparingly.  Going into his second year, McQuay described himself as "more confident" and "a little more solid" physically.
  • The five-star recruits are nice complements to each other as well. "We both are ball hawks," said McQuay. "He's a little bit heavier than I am, and I'm a little bit faster than he is."
  • The secondary expects to benefit from facing an uptempo offense in practice day in and day out. "We are just adjusting to it every day," said CB Kevon Seymour. "When we face an offense like that, we'll be ready.  It's not going to be new to us."
  • Defensive backs coach Keith Heyward pointed out Cravens, McQuay and Seymour as the three players who have flashed the most this spring from his unit, but he is looking for more than flashes of brilliance. "Consistency is what makes a great DB," he said. "You can play a great game for three quarters and then give up a touchdown to lose the game, so you need to be consistent through all your snaps."
  • The players are responding to the new staff.  "We love all the coaches," said Cravens. "All the coaches are player coaches.  They put the players first."
  • The secondary is missing a huge piece in Josh Shaw, who is walking without a boot now.  Heyward said that Shaw will start at corner when he does return. "We haven't really made any decision yet," he explained. "That's where he was so that's where we will start him.  We want our best 11 football players on the field."
  • In the bigger picture, Sarkisian commented on the Northwestern unionization ruling: "I'm aware. I wish I had a little more knowledge of everything and the background of it.  USC has always been on the forefront of doing everything in the best interest of our student-athletes within the rules.  In the best interest of USC, I need to pay a little more attention to it now that the decision is what it is."
  • Here is Sarkisian's post-practice presser including a positive take on OT Zach Banner:

No Stopping Them

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No. 1 USC women's golf is a machine on a mission to repeat and seemingly nothing can get in the Trojans' way.  Despite being down eight strokes to start the final round of the SDSU Farms Invitational, the Women of Troy sped past UCLA and company on the leaderboard to win their school-record-tying seventh event of the season.

As if Andrea Gaston did not have enough weapons in her lineup, freshman Karen Chung was the star of the week winning her first collegiate title by carding a lights out 66 on the final 18 including a 29 on the front side.

"I started with an eagle today and everything just seemed to fall in on the front 9," said Chung (pictured). "When I got to the back, I just tried staying steady. I just wanted to contribute to the team win, which was great."

Click here for the recap.

The team win is USC's 10th in its last 11 tournaments.  Chung grabbed the Women of Troy's fourth individual title in their last eight outings.


Men's Basketball Awards Banquet

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McGILLEN_032614_MBBAwards_00068.JPGAndy Enfield's first season as the USC men's basketball head coach was recognized Wednesday night as the team held a banquet to commemorate the 2013-2014 season for which leading scorer Byron Wesley was named team MVP. 

Here is a list of all awards and recipients:

Sam Barry Award (MVP): Byron Wesley
Dr. James Zumberge Award (Top GPA): Samer Dhillon
John Rudometkin Award (110 Percent Effort): Julian Jacobs
Ernie Holbrook Award (Most Inspirational): Strahinja Gavrilovic 
Bill Sharman Award (Top Free Throw Percentage): Pe'Shon Howard
Forrest F. Twogood Award (Best Defensive Player): Omar Oraby
The Harold Jones Award (Most Improved): Nikola Jovanovic
Bob Boyd Award (Top Rebounder): Byron Wesley
Ryan Francis Scholarship Award (Example of Being a Trojan): D.J. Haley

Photo Gallery: Lacrosse Cruises

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USC women's lacrosse got back to business in conference play dominating San Diego State 13-9 to move to 2-0 in the MPSF and 4-4 on the season.  The Women of Troy attack was spearheaded by sophomore Caroline de Lyra who had four goals and two assists.

Click here for the recap.

The Women of Troy now depart on a marathon five-game road trip through Fresno, the Bay Area and Colorado.  They do not play another home match until Oregon on April 18.

Here are the John McGillen photos from yesterday's victory:

USC v SDSU - Images by John McGillen

Women's Diving Scores Top Honors

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The Pac-12 recognized USC women's diving's performance at the NCAA Championships when they named USC redshirt junior Haley Ishimatsu the 2014 Pac-12 Women's Diver of the Year and USC head coach Hongping Li the 2014 Pac-12 Women's Diving Coach of the Year on Wednesday. 

The news came fresh off Ishimatsu's title-defending performance at the NCAA Championships as she became the first woman to repeat as platform champion since 1992-1993. At the Pac-12 Championships, the redshirt junior set a Pac-12 meet record as she dominated platform earning her second straight conference title. The junior also earned All-American honors on the one-meter at the NCAA Championships and scored for the first time on the three-meter which leaves her with a total of three Pac-12 individual titles and two NCAA platform championships. 

The Trojans, with the help of Ishimatsu, finished fifth in the NCAA Championships which can be attributed to the dedication from head diving coach Hongping Li. This is the sixth year in a row that the USC head coach was named Pac-12 Women's Diving Coach of the Year, and it is his 11th nomination overall proving his impact on both the men's and women's programs. He is also aided by volunteer Victoria Ishimatsu, Haley's sister, who earned Pac-12 Diver of the Year honors four years in a row (2009-2012).

King of Boxing

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USC's Galen Center will host a heavyweight title fight for the first time on May 10 featuring Bermane Stiverne (pictured middle left) and Chris Arreola (pictured upper left).  The winner will collect the title belt vacated by Vitali Klitschko.

To promote the fight, Don King (pictured upper right) and Dan Goossen (pictured bottom left) gathered the boxing media in Heritage Hall this morning for a press conference.  King is billing it as a "Fight for Peace" in which the winner will make history as either the first Haitian-American (Stiverne) or Mexican-American (Arreola) to own a heavyweight title belt.

Click here for ticket information.