Ready, Set, Rivalry

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Co-written by Sarah Bergstrom and Andie Hagemann, USC blog contributors

The USC-UCLA Dual Meet is a tradition rich in history. Like the other programs at USC, the rivalry match-up with the Bruins is a date that is circled on the calendar every year. Emotions run high as athletes who have competed against each other for years, both in college and elsewhere, look to defend their side of LA. After splitting the meet last season, USC is looking to take down their crosstown rival at Loker Stadium on Saturday (starting at 11 a.m.).

Brown at Texas RelaysKL.jpg"We've battled each other and have traditionally at the NCAA, conference, and Dual Meet levels," said Ron Allice, Director of Track and Field. "There have been periods of history, in the early years, that USC absolutely dominated, and then UCLA's track program really started to flourish and things changed. It has kind of alternated back and forth. Things started to change because of Title IX. Men's scholarships dropped from 30 all the way down to 12. The women's scholarships went from zero to 18."

This year, the USC men's team is ranked No. 9 and the women's team is ranked No. 23. Both UCLA men's and women's teams are ranked No. 13.

"They are favored this year on both the men's and women's sides," Allice said. "You can be a certain type of team. You can be a Dual Meet team, conference team, or an NCAA team. The setting we have here at USC, a private school with high tuition and the inability to give partial scholarships, hurts us because our depth and balance is not what it used to be.  I'm not making any excuses, that is just the way it is."

Though the Bruins are favored, the Trojans are not out of the race yet. In the past, some meets have come down to the performances of non-scholarship athletes. "People do things they don't normally do," said Allice. "There has been a history of people who weren't even supposed to be in the picture making a difference. Someone scores a point in an event they've never done before and we end up winning the meet by one. That's the beauty of the sport, you never know."

Allice thinks the marquee events on the men's side will be the 100m, 200m, 400m and intermediate hurdles. Bryshon Nellum and Aaron Brown (pictured by Kirby Lee), two of this season's biggest stories for the Trojans, will be featured in these events. Nellum currently has the third fastest 200m and 400m collegiate time in the country, while Brown has the fastest 200m and seventh fastest 100m time. 

On the women's side, Allice says all the events should be incredibly competitive as the higher number of scholarships allows for a more balanced array of talent in different events. 

"We will dominate certain areas and they will dominate certain areas," Allice said. "And in the events where we are both competitive, those events will determine who wins the meet."

Because of the storied rivalry between USC and UCLA, the Dual Meet attracts fans that do not necessarily follow track and field regularly. "There are a lot of people who attend the Dual Meet that normally will not attend meets throughout the course of the year just because of the rivalry," Allice said. "We will get a lot of football-based fans because Marqise Lee is going to jump. If a football player is going to put a pair of shorts and a singlet on and show that he can do something else that will attract a crowd."

With pride and PR's on their minds, the Trojans will take to the track at 11 a.m. at Loker Stadium on Saturday April 27.

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