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May 2016 Archives

JMac Going Down Under

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USC men's basketball PG Jordan McLaughlin is headed to Melbourne, Australia, this summer with the Pac-12 All-Star Team for a series of exhibition games and experiences.

Click here for more.

The Pac-12 All-Star Men's Basketball Team, comprised of 12 student-athletes from 10 member schools, will participate in two games against the Australia Men's National Team - known as the Australian Boomers - in its preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, as well as a third contest versus a team from the semi-professional South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL).

"This tour of Australia marks an important step forward in the Pac-12's mission to use the power of sport to advance our schools' reach around the world, and to give our student-athletes opportunities to learn about a new culture while playing a sport they love," said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott.

The summer tour is a great opportunity for McLaughlin on and off the court. He will receive invaluable life experience from a trip to the other side of the globe, but he will also be tested on the court, coming off a stellar sophomore season during which he led the Trojans in scoring.

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Spring Smarts

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After a phenomenal spring seasons in the water and on the court, beach, track and field, six USC teams closed the book on a successful academic semester as well, collecting postseason academic awards at both the conference and national levels.

Announced last week, eleven members of the conference-winning USC women's lacrosse team, five men's volleyball players and five members of the women's water polo team, which posted it's third-highest team GPA this semester, earned MPSF All-Academic recognition. 

After winning the program's first-ever NCAA national championship, four members of the USC beach volleyball team - Nicolette Martin, Jenna Belton, Jo Kremer and Sophie Bukovec (pictured) - secured spots on the first-ever Pac-12 Beach Volleyball All-Academic teams. Martin received First Team honors, Belton and Kremer were named to the Second Team, while Bukovec garnered honorable mention. 

Three women's rowers, Sara Bilimoria, Kaelyn Ibold and Ida Gortz Jacobsen, received Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association National Scholar-Athlete recognition

And rounding out the group of talented USC spring student-atheltes, USC senior Jaide Stepter, now headed to the NCAA Championships in the 400m hurdles, earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for her combined success on the track and in the classroom.

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New Drivers

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QB Max Browne and WR Steven Mitchell Jr. are ready to drive the USC offense as the juniors prepare for breakout seasons.

Browne waited patiently behind Cody Kessler, and now has to hold off talented redshirt freshman Sam Darnold to earn his spot as the leader of the Trojans' huddle. Mitchell, who was a distant second on the team in catches and touchdown receptions, is battling to emerge from one of the nation's deepest receiving corps in support of JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Here are Browne and Mitchell with former USC WR Curtis Conway for the Pac-12 Network:


Despite stormy weather in Lawrence, Kansas last week, nothing could rain on USC Track & Field's parade as 14 Trojans in 16 events punched their tickets to the 2016 NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. The Women of Troy's 4x400m relay put the exclamation mark on the successful West Preliminary Round, setting a school record and joining the 4x100m relay team in earning a spot to the Championships. 

Click here for a complete recap of day two at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds in which 10 Trojans advanced to the NCAA Championships. 


"I was pleased with the overall outcome of the NCAA first round meet," said USC Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert on Saturday. "On the women's side it was one of the best meets of the season and we have a strong team of 10 women heading to the NCAA final round."

On Friday, Adoree' Jackson earned USC's first spot at the NCAA Championships, finishing third overall in the long jump with a mark of 25-5.25 (+2.4w). Two of his fellow men's teammates would follow suit, with sophomore Randall Cunningham tying for first in the high jump and Ricky Morgan Jr. finishing in eighth in the 400m to advance in competition. 

The Women of Troy had a strong showing early in the meet as well, with both Tynia Gaither and Deanna Hill securing spots in the 100m race in Eugene and Amalie Iuel and Jaide Stepter running the second and third fastest times in the 400m IH to advance as well. Kendall Ellis earned a trip to the 400m race at the NCAA Championships and long jumpers Alexis Faulknor and Margaux Jones both leapt into the long jump finals to round out the group. 

Four more Trojans joined the party on Saturday as Destinee Brown and Cameron Pettigrew helped the Trojans' 4x100m and 4x400m relays advance, respectively. In field competition, Nick Ponzio finished fifth in the shot put to move on to the Championships while Tera Novy advanced in the women's discus. 

The four-day NCAA Championships meet will begin on Wednesday, June 8 at Hayward Field in Eugene and will continue through Saturday. The meet will be broadcast on ESPN, but be sure to follow @USC_Track_Field for event by event updates, photos and more!

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Fight On Camps: Rising Stars

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A Century of Champions

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On Monday, the Pac-12 announced the Men's and Women's Track & Field All-Century teams and 19 Trojans earned recognition for the century of success they helped bring to USC. Leading the pack of 14 male honorees is legendary leader Dean Cromwell who was named Pac-12 Coach of the Century after directing USC to a record 12 NCAA men's championships during his tenure from 1909-13 and 1916-1948. 



Cromwell boasted an all-time dual meet record of 109-48-1 and he coached his athletes to 34 NCAA individual titles. Among those title winners are fellow All-Century selections Charlie Paddock (100m), Mel Patton (200m) and Louis Zamperini (1500m). Rounding out the group, which includes Trojans who competed from as early as 1920 to 2000, is Lenox Miller (100m), Don Quarrie (200m), Quincy Watts (400m), Jack Davis (110h), Felix Sanchez (400h), Bob Seagren (pole vault), Charlie Dumas (high jump), Randy Williams (long jump), Parry O'Brien (shot put), Dallas Long (shot put), Balazs Kiss (hammer throw). 

The Women of Troy featured five All-Century team members in Angela Williams (100m), Inger Miller (200m), Virginia Powell (100h), Lillian Copeland (discus) and Eva Orban (hammer throw). The group represents 11 individual NCAA titles, three Olympic medals and 100 years of Trojan track & field excellence. 

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Historic Finale

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IMG_5406.JPGUSC baseball ended its 2016 season by scoring 31 runs on 30 hits against Arizona State, the second highest single-game totals in program history. The 31-9 victory capped a series win for the Trojans, bringing their season-ending record to 28-28 overall and 15-14 in conference.

Click here for the recap.

While 12 of the 14 Trojans that played had at least one hit, Timmy Robinson, Frankie Rios and Angelo Armenta collected four hits apiece. The trio combined to drive in 15 runs and score 14 times.

David Oppenheim went three-for-three to finish the season with a .387 batting average, the top mark in the Pac-12. Jeremy Martinez added two more hits to his career total, which is now over 200, and he ended the season with a .376 batting average, third in the Pac-12.

Here are the highlights from a remarkable performance in Tempe:


100 Days to Kickoff

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Piece by piece, we build the message to game day.

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First Things First

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USC men's golf made it all the way to the NCAA Championship Match last year before being forced to settle for runner-up. Returning the same core players, the Trojans have been motivated all season to finish the tournament off this time around, but first, they need to qualify for the match play by finishing in the top eight of the four-day stroke play event in Eugene, Oregon.

Click here for a preview.

No. 3 USC won three times this season, so they remain one of the favorites to contend for the crown. The Trojans, who will tee off on Friday at 12:20 p.m., are led by All-American duo Rico Hoey and Sean Crocker.

Here is Hoey on the team's camaraderie ahead of the NCAA Tournament:


Fight On Camps: Skills Camp

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Nik and Julian Out

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Spring 2016 Report Card

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Not only did USC's student-athletes accomplish plenty athletically during the just-completed Spring 2016 semester, they also continued to star academically.

USC_Athletics_Graduation_mcgillen_DSC_0703.jpgUSC's 539 student-athletes posted an average semester grade point average of 2.95 in Spring 2016.  That was a slight rise above the Fall 2015 mark of 2.94 and just under the previous Spring 2015 semester's 3.00, which was the highest since calculations were first kept in 2000.

More than half of USC's student-athletes (292) notched a 3.0 or higher GPA this Spring, including 18 with a perfect 4.0.  And 118 of them made USC's Dean's List, including a best of 15 by the women's swimming and diving team.

Twelve of USC's 21 teams had GPAs above 3.0 this Spring, topped by the women's golf squad's 3.36.  The men's team with the highest GPA was swimming and diving with 3.13, its second best figure on record.

Men's basketball recorded its best GPA since records were kept (2.81, nearly a tenth of a point above its previous best that came in the prior Spring).  Men's track and field posted its highest GPA for the second consecutive semester (3.09).  Football's 2.58 GPA tied for its third-highest semester GPA.

The women's water polo team, which won the NCAA championship earlier this month, proved that athletic and academic successes are not mutually exclusive.  The poloists notched their third highest GPA ever (3.13).

Six Trojan teams did not have any student-athlete with a sub-2.0 GPA in Spring 2016: golf, tennis and track and field on the men's side and golf, soccer and swimming and diving on the women's.

The men's basketball (+.37) and women's golf (+.18) teams had the most improved GPAs from Fall 2015 to Spring 2016.

"Once again, we are extremely pleased with the academic performance of our student-athletes," said Dr. Magdi El-Shahawy, USC senior associate athletic director in charge of Student-Athlete Academic Services.  "The bar is set high here and we continue to set it higher.  This validates our culture and our message:  you can succeed both in the classroom and on the playing field at USC.  Doing so at such an academically-demanding university as USC makes it an even more impressive achievement by our student-athletes.

"They, along with our coaches who support their academic pursuits and our staff in Student-Athlete Academic Services, are to be congratulated."

Fight On Camps: 7-on-7

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Pac-12 Before Dark

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The Pac-12 has listened to its fans and now is working to make football kickoff times earlier on Saturdays to avoid so many late nights. The conference reached out to its television partners, FOX Sports and ESPN, to make the request, and it will lead the way by moving Pac-12 Network games to 2:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. starts.

Click here for more on Pac-12 changes.

"The Pac-12 has some of the most loyal fans in college athletics and we appreciate our television partners working with us on this important issue for fans," said Rob Mullens, University of Oregon athletic director. "The increased exposure and revenue from our contracts with ESPN and FOX Sports have been instrumental to our success, but we continue to work hard to minimize as much as possible the negative impact late start times have on our fans who travel great distances to see our teams in person."

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Fight On Camps: OL/DL

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Out Matched

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USC women's golf cruised through four rounds of stroke play to qualify for the NCAA Quarterfinals as the three-seed, but the match play format, which determines the national champion, haunted the Women of Troy for the second consecutive season. USC fell to Duke, 4-1, as only junior Karen Chung (pictured) was able to secure a point for the Trojans.

Click here for the recap.

While the Women of Troy have plenty of postseason experience on their roster, senior Kyung Kim is the only starting player expected to depart. The three-time All-American bounced back from an injury this season to lead the Trojans to a Pac-12 title.

"It's been a great career here," Kim said. "We started with a team title in 2013 and have come so close the last three years to winning another. Today was tough but we ran into a Duke team that played extremely well today."

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Yam Podcasts with Trojan Greats

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Pac-12 Network host Mike Yam has a new podcast, "Give Me A Sense", and his first two guests are USC greats, Ronnie Lott and Matt Leinart.

Click here to listen.

With Lott, Yam discussed the Hall of Famer's most important life lessons, including the mentors that shaped him into the man that he became. Returning the favor, Lott provides advice for young athletes about what it takes to push past failure.

Leinart told the story of his Heisman experiences, winning the trophy in 2003 and losing it to his teammate in 2004. He also shared some NFL stories, taking listeners inside the quarterback room.

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Stepping Stone

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USC women's lacrosse took its first loss of the season on Saturday, ending the Women of Troy's historic campaign in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals at Syracuse. The Trojans clawed back from a three-goal deficit to tie the game and send it into overtime in the Carrier Dome, where the Orange delivered the sudden-death blow to win 12-11.

Click here for the recap.

The Women of Troy finish the year 20-1, setting nearly every program and conference record along the way. In her final game, senior Amanda Johansen led the team with four goals and six points. Junior attackers Cynthia Del Core and Michaela Michael combined to add five goals, while junior Kylie Drexel delivered a team-high three assists.

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Fight On Camps

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Photo Gallery: Baseball Senior Salute

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USC baseball closed the home schedule by dropping two of three to Oregon State this weekend. The Trojans opened the series with a 3-1 loss, but responded by clubbing the Beavers, 10-1, on Saturday.

Click here for the recaps.

Sunday's rubber match went to OSU, 4-1, but USC was able to honor its seniors before their final home game. The "group helped turn our storied program around."

USC is now 25-27 overall, 13-13 in the Pac-12, with four more games to go. The Trojans will travel to Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday and then finish the season with a three-game weekend trip to Arizona State.

Here are the Senior Day photos by John McGillen:


Tennis Season's Over

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While USC women's tennis was knocked out in the second round, the men advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in Tulsa before dropping a dramatic dual to Georgia. The Trojans and Bulldogs are two of the sport's superpowers, and they engaged in a classic match with Georgia ultimately prevailing, 4-3.

"I think with matches like that you have this overwhelming sense of being a part of something that is bigger than you. It's such a great rivalry between UGA and us," said USC head coach Peter Smith. "To play that quality of a match for three and half hours, you really feel like it's an honor and a privilege to be a part of it. It hurts to lose, but it was just a great match."

Click here for the recap.

While USC men's tennis spent most of the season in the national Top 10, the 2016 campaign is almost a rebuilding year by the national championship standards of the program. The Trojans have plenty of help on the way as Smith and his staff reeled in the No. 2 recruiting class in the country, and USC loses only one senior, Max de Vroome (pictured).

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On Sunday, nine USC baseball seniors will play beneath the afternoon sun at Dedeaux Field for the final time. Four years after starting their Trojan careers, a lot has changed within the most successful program in college baseball history, and the positive growth is due in large part to this class of talented players who ushered in the start of a new era of USC baseball.


Just two days before the start of the 2013 season, previously-titled associate head coach Dan Hubbs was named the team's head coach, faced with leading a USC program that had settled into mediocrity. It was time to rebuild, and Hubbs would begin that process with the 24th-best recruiting class in the country. The Trojans posted a 20-36 record in Hubbs' first season, but the head coach and his resilient group of freshmen were confident things were headed in the right direction. Four years later, the departing class, which includes Turner Clouse, Kyle Davis, Brooks Kriske, Marc Huberman, David Oppenheim, AJ Ramirez, Timmy Robinson, Reggie Southall and Brent Wheatley, has won 112 total games over three seasons together. Last season, the class led USC to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005. 

It will be a special weekend for the core group of players that trusted their head coach, invested in each other and saw the rebuilding process through. In the midst of a season in which the Trojans have hovered around .500, the group stands as a reminder that while success in college baseball comes in waves, one committed unit of players can turn things around in a flash.

USC hosts Oregon State, which is just one game back from the Trojans in the Pac-12 standings, for a decisive series beginning Friday at 7 p.m. PT. Saturday's game will begin at 1 p.m. PT and Sunday's will start at Noon. All three games will be televised on the Pac-12 Network. Be sure to follow @USC_Baseball for in-game updates, photos from Senior Day and more!

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Bring on the Bulldogs

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The No. 10-seeded USC men's tennis team is one win away from its 10th straight trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals, and is aiming to buck the seeding and secure a berth with a win over No. 7 Georgia on Friday. Led by lone senior Max de Vroome, the 17-6 Trojans will take on the Bulldogs in the NCAA Round of 16 at 2 p.m. PT in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 


USC secured an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament this year after losing in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals. Two members of the current roster, de Vroome and junior Nick Crystal, experienced the thrill of winning a national championship in 2014, and the duo is eager to lead the Trojans on a postseason run. De Vroome, ranked No. 23 in the nation, is finishing his Trojan career on a strong note posting 28 singles wins this season, and will appear in the NCAA Singles Tournament next week along with Crystal. 

For live updates from the Trojans' match on Friday, be sure to follow @USCMensTennis

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Building from the Backstop

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bench-martinez.jpgUSC junior catcher Jeremy Martinez has been named a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award, marking the second consecutive year that a Trojan has been so honored. Martinez took over catching responsibilities from Garrett Stubbs, who won the Johnny Bench Award last season.

Like Stubbs, Martinez has been an anchor and leader of his team, orchestrating the game from behind the plate and keying the offense from the middle of the lineup. He has started 47 games behind the dish, throwing out 22 would-be base stealers in 52 attempts, and he is second on the team in hitting (.376 batting average) and RBI (37). Martinez has prodigious power with five home runs and a .554 slugging percentage, but remarkably, he is the 16th toughest hitter in the nation to strike out.

Click here for more.

Jeff Clement, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2005 MLB Draft, is the only other USC catcher to reach this stage, and he also won the award. Finalists will be announced June 6.

Par for the Course

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In what's become somewhat of a regular phenomenon, the USC men's golf team is on it's way back to the NCAA Championships final for the 10th straight time. Sophomores Jonah Texeira and Sean Crocker, as well as freshman Justin Suh, all recorded 1-over 73s to lead the Trojans in a superb final round to a third place finish in the NCAA Albuquerque Regional on Wednesday. 


Despite the less than ideal weather conditions on USC's final day, including unusually high winds, the team pulled together to post the day's second-best final round at a combined 31-over 895 (291-311-293). Crocker anchored the Trojans' all weekend, tying his season-best effort with a second-place finish at 1-over 217. Suh tied for 17th at 10-over 226, recording a 73 in the final round to match his performance from day one. The sophomore Texeira matched Suh's 73 on Wednesday, finishing the weekend 22nd at 11-over 227. 

"Coach Goulding and I are so proud of our players," USC head coach Chris Zambri said. "In conditions that were so unlike what we play and practice in daily, our guys came through in a big way. It was trying to say the least and they had great attitudes all week. We are so pumped to get to Eugene and try to win a national championship."

In 2015, the Trojans reached the NCAA Championships match play final before falling to LSU in what was a best-ever postseason finish for the program. This season, they're looking to raise the bar just one peg higher and return to USC with a championship trophy. 

USC is one of 30 teams from six regionals to advance to the NCAA Championships set for May 27-June 1 at the Eugene (Ore.) C.C. Be sure to follow @USCMensGolf for a closer look at the Trojans' pursuit of a national championship! 
Continuing the trend in USC women's lacrosse's year of firsts, Michaela Michael and Courtney Tarleton were named the program's first-ever First Team IWLCA All-Americans on Wednesday. The pair forms somewhat of an offensive and defensive yin and yang on the field, complimenting each others' efforts on either half, and helping to lead their team to a perfect 20-0 record and berth in the 2016 NCAA quarterfinals this season. USC senior midfielder Amanda Johansen also joined the duo, receiving third team honors.


Tarleton, the 2016 MPSF Player of the Year, is a four-year All-MPSF performer and four-year team captain. She leads the MPSF and ranks seventh in the NCAA for caused turnovers (2.50 ctpg) and will forever be cemented in USC lacrosse history as one of the program's first All-Americans.

Sharing Tarleton's spotlight in history is Michael, the 2015 MPSF Player of the Year, who is second in the nation for total points and fifth in total goals. The team's scoring leader by a wide margin, the junior attacker was a third team All-American last season. 

All eyes will be on both USC captains on Saturday at 12 p.m. PT when the Trojans take on Syracuse at the Carrier Dome live on ESPN3. Be sure to follow @USCTrojansLAX for in-game updates, photos and more!

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Best in the Field

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On Wednesday, USC junior All-American Amalie Iuel received the well-deserved honor of 2016 Pac-12 Women's Field Athlete of the Year. The versatile track star won her second Pac-12 heptathlon title this season, scoring the second-most points ever by a Trojan in the Multi-Events Championships and moving from third to second on USC's all-time heptathlon list. 


Entering NCAA competition, Iuel is looking to record another successful offseason following her 2015 campaign which included a seventh-place finish in the 400m IH at the NCAA Championships and a second-place finish in the 4x400m relay. This season, Iuel shined in several events for the Trojans, posting a personal record 6-0.50 in the high jump, 56.37 in the 400m IH and 23.41 in the 200m among top personal marks in other heptathlon events.

She sustained an elbow injury in the Pac-12 Championships last weekend but she will now turn her focus to recovery and preparation for competition in the high jump, 400m IH and 4x400m relay in the NCAA Championships. She ranks tied for eighth in the country in the high jump and 11th in the 400m IH. The junior qualified for six events at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds. 

Ready for Impact

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USC junior CB Adoree' Jackson and sophomore LB Cam Smith were named to the 2016 Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list, which recognizes the nation's best defensive players who also demonstrate elite character.

Click here for the complete list.

Jackson has started 22 games on defense in his two-year career, making 84 tackles, deflecting 18 passes, and returning an interception for a touchdown. Smith (pictured) was a Freshman All-American last season, finishing second on the team in tackles (78) and tied for first with three interceptions (all against Utah).

The award is named after USC legend Ronnie Lott, but a Trojan has yet to win the trophy since its creation in 2004.

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Boone Bio

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USC baseball alum Bret Boone is the first third-generation baseball player in Major League Baseball history. The former three-time all star published a book to tell 70 years of stories about "baseball's first family."

Click here for more on Home Game.

Bret Boone is the grandson of former big leaguer Ray Boone and the son of former MLB player and manager Bob Boone. He is also the brother of former all-star Aaron Boone, another fellow Trojan.

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Rowing to NCAAs

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No. 12 USC women's rowing is headed to the NCAA Championships for the eight consecutive time and 10th time overall. This year's national regatta, featuring 22 teams, will take place on Lake Natoma in Gold River, CA, from May 27-29.

Click here for more.

The Women of Troy, who are coming off a fifth place finish at the Pac-12 Championships, will try to top their program-best fourth place showing in 2013. Only one Trojan boat has ever won an individual national title - the 1998 varsity four.

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More Runs for Ramirez

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As the 11th-best hitter in the Pac-12 conference with a .331 batting average, USC's AJ Ramirez is enjoying a very solid offensive season. His stat sheet grew even more impressive in the Trojans' Tuesday night victory over UC Irvine when the senior ripped off his second grand slam of the season, helping his team tally seven runs in the third inning alone. USC's 8-3 win brings its season record to 24-25 as it nears a crucial Pac-12 series against Oregon State this weekend.


With the bases loaded and a 1-0 lead in the third, Ramirez stepped to the plate and fired off his ninth overall homer of the year and third career grand slam on Tuesday. David Oppenheim, who leads the Pac-12 in batting average, was the only other Trojan with multiple RBIs on the day. The Trojans recorded eight runs on 13 hits with 10 different players tallying at least one hit in the victory. Freshman Marrick Crouse added power on the defensive side of the game, pitching five complete shutout innings and holding the Anteaters to just two hits in his first win of the year. 

The final two weeks of the regular season should be exciting for the Pac-12, as the conference's top 10 teams are separated by four games with six to play. USC's sixth-place conference record of 12-12 is tied with Oregon's and one better than Oregon State's at 11-13. Utah leads the conference with a 15-9 Pac-12 record.

The Trojans host the Beavers at Dedeaux Field this weekend with games at 7 p.m. PT, 1 p.m. PT and 12 p.m. PT on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively. All three games will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. Be sure to follow @USC_Baseball for in-game updates, stats, photos and more!

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Defensive Guru

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As USC women's lacrosse prepares for its first-ever NCAA Quarterfinal this week (Saturday at Syracuse), the Women of Troy know that the old adage, "Defense wins championships," applies to their sport as well. In its undefeated run this season, USC has held 18 of its 20 opponents under 10 goals.

Devon Wills is Lindsey Munday's associate head coach and defensive coordinator. She also happens to be one of the best goalies in the world, backstopping Team USA to World Cup titles in 2009 and 2013.

Click here for ESPNW's new profile on Wills.

While most coaches tell stories about back when they used to play, Wills practices everything that she preaches. No Trojan would dare challenge her prowess in goal.

"I can be pretty competitive and pretty aggressive," Wills told ESPNW.

While she continues her playing career as the first draft pick of the Long Island Sound in the newly formed United Women's Lacrosse League, she is also bucking the notion that great players do not make great coaches. Wills has passed her passion down to her pupils, fortifying USC's defense, and building the foundation for a championship run.

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We're just over 100 days until the 2016 college football season, but it's never too early to start tracking which Trojans are making watch lists for this year's array of postseason awards. Leading the pack this offseason is USC junior OL Toa Lobendahn who was named to the Rimington Trophy Spring Watch List for the nation's top center.

Click here to see the complete watch list.

Lobendahn has 20 career starts between four different positions, returning in 2016 from knee surgery as one of USC's most versatile players. As a freshman in 2014, he made the Football Writers of America, USA Today and Phil Steele Freshman All-American lists. The junior will likely anchor a talented and experienced Trojan offensive line, and if the unit plays up to its potential this fall, there will be plenty of awards to go around.

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Trojan Rookie Check In

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The newest members of the National Football League have spent the last three weeks settling into their new homes, another step forward in the whirlwind first-year rookie experience. From their first practices at rookie mini camp to exploring the city to welcoming a mini-me into the world, USC's most recent class of NFL rookies have been busy. Catch up on the youngest #USCtotheNFL members...

Welcome to Washington

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Su'a Cravens, USC's highest-drafted player in 2016, was quick to dive into the Redskins' fanbase when he put his new jersey number up to popular vote after the draft. Now a stranger in a foreign land, the DB/LB is again taking to Twitter for a personal Yelp guide to the city. Whether for food recommendations, local entertainment or even a personal decorator, Cravens is open to suggestions.

With time on his hands in between the draft and Washington's rookie mini camp, Cravens eagerly got out and about to check out his new home, touring the capitol, dominating in recreational bowling and learning the hard way about D.C. taxis

But Cravens' real focus throughout the last three weeks has been on the football field, where he has already made a strong impression on the Redskins' staff. Four days on the practice field and several weeks in the playbook have some eyeing Cravens as a Top 25 rookie in the upcoming season.

Competition in Cleveland

Former USC captain and quarterback Cody Kessler heard his name called on Day Two of the NFL Draft, selected in the third round by the Browns, and in the weeks since coaches, teammates and analysts have been heaping praise on Clevelands' newest QB.

From former NFL No. 1 draft pick David Carr: "He can absolutely be the Browns' starting quarterback."

From head coach Hue Jackson: "I see, and saw, and will continue to see a guy who's going to ascend into the National Football League and play when the time's right."

Kessler, who battled for his starting spot at USC three years ago, is no stranger to competition or the challenge of leading a team amidst adversity. The newest member of the DawgPound isn't worried about what anyone thinks of him now, he's simply eager to get his shot.

"I'm excited," said Kessler during last week's mini camp. "I kind of love that pressure. I love the fact that they believe in me as well and I'm a guy that feels if he gets challenged, he's going to respond. I want to show that they can really trust me, that I'm a guy they can rely on."

Here's a look at his first day of mini camp...
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Love at First Sight

The furthest from home he's ever been, former USC CB and Bills sixth round draft pick Kevon Seymour is getting comfortable with Rex Ryan and the #BillsMafia after three weeks in Buffalo. And according to a recent story on BuffaloBills.com, Seymour's new team has reason to be excited about their late-round pick-up.

This offseason, Seymour had an eye-opening realization when the training staff he was working with for draft preparation had his vision tested. To his surprise, the NFL-hopeful discovered he had 20/60 vision with differing visual impairment in each eye that made depth perception extremely difficult. Frustrated by a lower ratio of interceptions to knocked down balls in college, the cornerback finally had an answer and an immediate solution in a new pair of contact lenses. The Bills realized the potential in Seymour, a speedy player with the physical qualities and skills necessary to excel in the NFL, and are eager to see how much better the cornerback is playing with clear vision for the first time.

"I'm definitely seeing clearer. My depth perception is much better. And I'm tracking the ball down much better," Seymour said on NFL Network this week. "The first day [of rookie mini camp] my head was spinning a lot. But the second day, third day I caught on to it and I was playing much faster and I was way more comfortable."

Quick Hits

Still recovering from offseason ACL surgery, former USC center Max Tuerk was limited to mental reps in San Diego Chargers mini camp last week.

Congratulations to newly-signed Tennessee Titan Antwaun Woods who welcomed his first child, Antwaun Woods Jr., into the world on May 12! The former USC defensive lineman will continue competing for a Titans' roster spot through OTAs and mini camp.

Former USC defensive end Greg Townsend Jr. is looking to continue the legacy his father started with the Oakland Raiders. Townsend Sr. is the team's all-time sack leader and contributed to the team's Super Bowl XVIII-winning squad.

The recent tradition of USC-Hawks, Trojans making their NFL home with the Seattle Seahawks in the Pacific Northwest, continues this offseason as former USC RB Tre Madden joined the team, and former teammate George Farmer, as an undrafted free agent. D.J. Morgan worked out with the pair at the Seahawks' mini camp on a tryout basis. 
Happily reunited at USC this spring, brothers Josh and Daniel Imatorbhebhe raised the bar at their Otter Pops Quiz, acing the toughest of questions that only siblings would know. 

Come for the debate on whether Josh snores, stay for his solo rendition of Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning"...

Time for the Tide

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USC's season opener against Alabama in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday, September 3, will kick off at 7 p.m. CT/5 p.m. PT and be broadcast live nationally by ABC.

The eighth annual AdvoCare Classic pits two of college football's powerhouses against each other for the first time since 1985. USC and Alabama have combined to win 27 national championships and eight Heisman Trophies.

USC's allotment of tickets for the game has been sold out, but the game's organizer will conduct a public sale of tickets in mid-June through Ticketmaster. We will publicize the ticket sale link when it is released.

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Photo Gallery: Championship Drama

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While 26-0 is as dominant as season's get, USC women's water polo did not come by that final victory easily. Stanford pushed the Women of Troy to the brink in the NCAA Title Match before Stephania Haralabidis delivered the exclamation point on perfection by sailing in the championship-winning goal with six seconds left in regulation.

Click here for more.

What ensued from that point forward can loosely be termed as a pool party. Enjoy the anxiety and the ecstasy of John McGillen's national championship photo gallery.


9-0 Party

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USC has already clinched the SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup, but that did not stop the Trojans from beating the Bruins again this weekend. USC baseball went into Westwood and took two out of three from its rival, including a 9-0 thumping to swing the series on Sunday.

Freshman Mitch Hart set the tone by throwing six innings of shutout ball, striking out three and giving up only three hits. Jeremy Martinez (three hits) and Corey Dempster (three RBI) provided more than enough offense in support of Hart.

Click here for the recap.

USC is now 12-12 in Pac-12 play (23-25 overall), having split the season series with UCLA, 2-2. The Trojans other win came Friday night courtesy of a strong outing by Joe Navilhon, who threw 8 innings before handing the ball to Marc Huberman for the save.

Here are the highlights of the Trojans thumping the Bruins on Sunday:


Toronto's Trojan

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For the first time since 2011, a Trojan will be playing in the Eastern Conference Finals. DeMar DeRozan combined with Kyle Lowry for 63 points in Game 7 on Saturday to lead the Toronto Raptors to the franchise's first-ever conference finals appearance.

The former USC guard has been unsteady this postseason, scoring in single digits in three of his last 11 games and shooting below 30 percent in five games of the two series, but he came through with the Raptors' playoff hopes on the line, scoring 28 points and posting eight rebounds in the victory.

Coming off back-to-back seven game series, the road won't get any easier for the Raptors who face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers which efficiently swept the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. 

DeRozan and Co. are back in action on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. PT in Cleveland. Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals will be televised on ESPN. 

A Season of Firsts

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USC women's lacrosse is doing what no team has done before this season, and it's raising the bar to an entirely new level. As the first-ever West Coast NCAA Tournament hosts, the Trojans took down Stanford, 14-8, on Sunday to become the first MPSF team to ever hold a 20-0 record and the first conference representative in the NCAA Quarterfinals.

Click here for a complete recap.

From start to finish the Women of Troy were dominant, holding an opponent to under 10 goals for the 20th time this season and finishing with a hat trick of individual hat tricks. Junior attacker Michaela Michael tallied three goals, two assists and eight draw controls in the victory, marking her 23rd career hat trick. She now has 66 goals on the season, the fourth-most in MPSF single-season history. Junior attacker Kylie Drexel scored her ninth-career hat trick and senior attacker Caroline deLyra finished with her 26th career hat trick to round out the group of high-scoring Trojans.


The Women of Troy now head to Syracuse, New York, to take on Syracuse (18-5) at the Carrier Dome on May 21 at 3 p.m. ET/Noon PT. Be sure to follow @USCTrojansLAX for in-game updates, photos and more throughout USC's historic journey.


Check out all the John McGillen photos from USC lacrosse's 20th win on Sunday...


Scrappy in Second

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For the second straight year, the USC women's track & field team finished second at the Pac-12 Championships to perennial powerhouse Oregon after a hard-fought meet led by USC senior and 2016 Pac-12 Women's Track & Field Scholar-Athlete Jaide Stepter. The men's team finished fifth, with Adoree' Jackson (long jump) winning the Trojan men's sole Pac-12 individual title.



"We had a scrappy weekend, we fought to the bitter end," said USC Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert. "We had a lot of bright spots like Jaide and Adoree'. I was very pleased with all the PRs and performances we were able to come away with... Now we are able to go back and train solely for track & field, get rested, get healthy, put our best foot forward for NCAA Round One."

Stepter took home her third consecutive 400m IH Pac-12 title with a PR of 55.22. She is the second Trojan to win three consecutive conference 400m IH titles, joining Olympic medalist Natasha Danvers who accomplished the feat from 1998-2000. The senior teamed with sophomore Kendall Ellis, junior Cameron Pettigrew and sophomore Deanna Hill to win the 4x400m relay in 3:34.14. It was USC's fourth consecutive Pac-12 title in the event. With a final tally of 111.50, the Women of Troy were the only other team besides Oregon to score 100 points in the meet. 

Jackson leaped his way to his second straight Pac-12 long jump title, jumping 25-3.50 to become the first Trojan to win the event title in consecutive seasons since school and conference record holder Randy Williams won it from 1972-1975. The sophomore also scored in the 100m, in which he finished runner-up, the 4x100m relay in which the Trojans ran a season-best 39.74 for the second-place spot, and the 4x400m relay which finished fourth. 

USC came in second in seven different events on Sunday, a disappointing outcome but also an encouraging sign for a team that has a lot to look forward to as NCAA competition begins next week. The Trojans will travel to Lawrence, Kansas for NCAA West Prelims from May 26 to May 28. Athletes who advance to the finals will compete at the NCAA Championships in Oregon from June 8 to June 11. 

Be sure to follow @USC_Track_Field for meet updates, photos and more!

Check out what Stepter had to say on winning her third hurdles title and Pac-12 Women's T&F Scholar-Athlete of the year...

Men's Tennis Feeling Sweet

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No. 10 USC men's tennis held serve at home over the weekend to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 in Tulsa by beating UNLV, 4-0, and Georgia Tech, 4-2. The Trojans were pushed hard by the Yellow Jackets, but ultimately overcame them thanks to superior depth in their singles lineup.

"Today was a very exciting college tennis match," said head coach Peter Smith about the second round victory. "Georgia Tech gave us all we could handle. Our fight from top to bottom is what our program is all about, and today that took us over the top."

Click here for the recap.

USC will play No. 7 Georgia in the next round on Friday (5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT). The Trojans and Bulldogs, who have combined to win seven of the last nine national championships, were scheduled to play earlier this season in Westwood, but the match was rained out.

Here are the John McGillen photos from the fierce fight with Georgia Tech:


Perfection

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USC women's water polo finished off an undefeated season, 26-0, with an NCAA championship by beating Stanford, 8-7, thanks to a game-winning goal by Stephania Haralabidis with only six seconds to play in Westwood. The Women of Troy collected the program's fifth national championship and the 125th all-time for USC (102 NCAA team titles).

Click here for the recap.

The Women of Troy led 7-5 with 52 seconds left after Brianna Daboub provided what appeared to be a comfortable cushion, but Stanford, the defending champions, responded with back-to-back goals to put the match on the precipice of overtime. To win USC's last national championship, back in 2013, the Women of Troy needed five overtimes to overcome the Cardinal, but Haralabidis' championship-winning shot put an end to tonight's drama just before the regulation buzzer.


The goal by Haralabidis was her fifth and final of the match, earning her NCAA Tournament MVP honors. Brigitta Games added two goals, while Amanda Longan made nine saves.

Click here for the Rapid Reaction.

For head coach Jovan Vavic, the history-making never ceases. He has now claimed 14 national titles at USC (nine for the men and five for the women), including four undefeated seasons.

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2016 USC Student-Athlete Graduation

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The 2016 USC Student-Athlete Graduation was a celebration of dedication and perseverance.

For their devotion and commitment to the Trojan Family and the welfare of the student-athletes, athletic director Pat Haden and learning specialist Mimi Butler, the Director of Academic Support and the Directed Studies Program, were given the Legend of Troy Award.

Click here to see the tribute to Pat Haden.

USC women's tennis captain Giuliana Olmos, who started the Rose Cup to battle breast cancer, earned the TAPA Community Service Award.

Click here to see Olmos' speech.

And, All-American WR Robert Woods returned to get his diploma after making a promise to his late sister that he would always serve as a role model.

Click here to see Woods' speech.

Here are all the Pierson Clair photos from the graduation celebration:


Thanks for the Memories!

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It's graduation day for us here on the USC RipsIt Blog as well as we lose Caroline Deisley, who has been an invaluable member of our social media team for three years. She earned her degree in broadcast journalism from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism with a 3.5 GPA.

Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Graduation brings an overwhelming swell of emotions, from feeling like Holden Caulfield wanting to avoid responsibilities for as long as possible, and feeling like Lewis and Clark ready to blindly embark on a scary, new adventure without any road map showing where to go and how to survive.

IMG_5335.JPGI'm certainly somewhere in the middle, not ready to say goodbye to the amazing experiences, coworkers and friends here at USC, but also extremely excited to continue the #USCtotheNFL tradition of excellence when I begin working for the Denver Broncos digital media team this June.

For a 22-year-old, I've unfortunately said more goodbyes than someone my age should. If I've learned anything from these experiences, it's to focus your attention on all the unbelievably amazing memories that were shared rather than to remind yourself that time has run out for new ones. So instead of remembering that this is my final article, I've decided to highlight some of my favorite memories here, and to thank the people that made these experiences the most worthwhile.

I'll never forget my first post-game interview. I was a timid, nervous sophomore in charge of talking to players after the game. I don't remember anything about the game, who we were playing or the questions I asked. I do remember having to run up the tunnel and chase after Leonard Williams to get him to take his headphones off and do the interview. The only thing I remember from the actual interview was that the future first-round draft pick proceeded to drip sweat on my arm the entire time.

Shortly after either that game or the next, I was also tasked with getting an interview from one of the assistant coaches. This was during the early quarterback battle between Max Wittek and Cody Kessler, so I was trying to interview then-QB coach Clay Helton. I had somehow missed him, and he had already gone to grab his post-game meal. He then came out and while holding one of his children, proceeded to do the entire interview. I'll never forget my first impression of our future head football coach and how generous he was to agree to an interview when all he really wanted to do was celebrate with his family.

I'll also never forget the entire day from start to finish of the epic upset of Stanford two years ago. College GameDay was in town, which meant we had a 4:00 a.m. start time. Running on very little sleep, we proceeded to meet the entire GameDay staff, joke around with Lee Corso and take a photo with the crew on set. From there, we went on to work one of the best USC football games in recent years. After the game ended when the fans stormed the field, I just remember running around having no idea what to do and how to do my job while also wanting to celebrate with the Trojan faithful on the field.

There are countless more memories, from losing our minds in the wee hours of the morning at the NCAA Baseball Regional Final in Lake Elsinore to exploring Seattle entirely on my own with women's basketball to an incredibly unbelievable run to March Madness with the men. I experienced some pretty big moments that I will always remember, but I'm going to miss the random meals, conversations, throwing sessions prior to games and inside jokes the most.

All that being said, I wouldn't have experienced any of these things without a few of you reading this, so I wanted to thank some of you for all that you've done during my time at USC.

To the Trojan Family - Thank you for taking in a southerner straight out of the SEC and turning her into the biggest Cardinal & Gold supporter. There's no better place to be than in the Coliseum on Saturdays in the fall with 90,000 of your closest friends.

To the student-athletes - Thank you for letting me share your stories! We have incredibly special student-athletes here at USC and I've really enjoyed getting to know the ones that I have.

To David "Pops" Scott (Director of Football Equipment Operations) - I didn't officially feel accepted in the athletic department until I had a nickname and I will be forever grateful to you for getting "Boots" to stick and for always putting a smile on my face.

To Tim Tessalone (Sports Information Director) - Thanks for all that you do and for all the life advice, but most importantly thank you for teaching me to never go anywhere without a pen. I will never forget that one.

To Paul Goldberg (Senior Associate Sports Information Director) - Thanks for loving Richard Linklater as much as I do and for all the music/movie recommendations along with all the help over the years.

To John McGillen (Team Photographer) - Thanks for the headshot! Just kidding. Seriously, I'm so glad to have worked with you and all that goes into what may seem like a simple photo shoot.

To Sarah Bergstrom (Assistant Director of Social Media) - I am so thankful that I've been able to work alongside my best friend and share this experience with someone. I don't know what I'd do without your advice, support and encouragement. You continue to inspire me and I'll always remember that I wouldn't have had this job if it weren't for our random sports conversations after class!

To Jordan Moore (Director of Social Media) - Thank you is never enough, but thanks for giving me the opportunity to work for you three years ago and for all the opportunities you've given me since. Your belief in me gave me the confidence to achieve all that I have and I can't imagine working for someone else.

To my mom and brother - Thanks for the overwhelming amount of support these last four years and for understanding when I would forget to text you back or couldn't come home as often as I wanted.

And to my late father, best friend and person I miss the most every day - Daddy, we did it!!

Thanks for the opportunities, experiences, all the ups and the downs, but most of all thanks for the memories. Fight On!

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Graduation Day

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Congratulations to all the USC graduates in the Class of 2016! The student-athletes were honored at their own ceremony on Thursday at the Galen Center.

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Student Tribute to Haden

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Every USC student-athlete in attendance took the stage at the Galen Center to pay tribute to outgoing athletic director Pat Haden.

We will have more content from the Student-Athlete Graduation on Friday, but here is the emotional farewell video made by the student-athletes, in particular Caroline Cordrey of women's lacrosse and Robby Kolanz of football, for their beloved AD:


Celebration Day

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USC celebrated the return of the SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup to Heritage Hall as well as beach volleyball's national championship in a joint ceremony this morning, which featured speeches by athletic director Pat Haden, football head coach Clay Helton, men's basketball head coach Andy Enfield, beach volleyball head coach Anna Collier, and All-Americans Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes.

Click here to watch the celebration!

Here are the John McGillen photos of the event:


#USCgrad: The Lucky One

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Today, USC senior soccer defender Whitney Pitalo will walk across the stage at the Galen Center, receive her diploma for an undergraduate degree in NGOs and Social Change, and then search the crowd for her parents to take in the moment together. Surrounded by hundreds of fellow student-athletes and family members also celebrating the culmination of four years of hard work, the Pitalo's will look like any of the other proud parents in attendance. But their story, and their daughter's story, is quite different.

Pitalo's roots lie in a tough background shared by more than 400,000 other children in the United States. Born in Portland, her birth parents struggled with drug addiction while raising six children. At the age of two, Pitalo and her siblings were removed from their home and placed into the foster care system, almost certainly facing separation from their birth parents as well as each other. Surprisingly, the group was taken in by an older foster parent couple in Salem and six years later, the pair adopted Whitney and four of her siblings (her youngest sister was raised by an aunt), an astoundingly rare occurrence for large groups of children bouncing around the system (all six siblings pictured below).

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"It's unheard of," she says. "My foster parents, who are now my real parents, are amazing people who sacrificed a lot."

The first in her family to graduate from a four-year university, Pitalo has exceeded expectations in more ways than one. Her childhood love of soccer led her to USC and helped her discover her life's passion, connecting the circle of her story back to where she started. As she reflects back on the last four, and 22 years, she feels more certain than ever where her road is taking her.

"I have more direction in my life in terms of where I want to go," says Pitalo. "I'm more confident in my values and my beliefs and know where I'm headed. My freshman year was all about soccer and just getting by, now it's much bigger than that."

When she moved to Los Angeles from Oregon four years ago, Pitalo slowly learned to balance soccer and school just like her fellow Trojan student-athletes, finding her way and herself on and off the pitch. She started as a psychology major but soon found a better match in a new program that examined the use of business for social change. Her junior year, she interned at a nonprofit for a class requirement and never stopped, another step closer to finding something outside of soccer that matched her love for her sport.

"It's been really busy," Pitalo acknowledges. "But you make time for things you want. When there is that passion inside of you it doesn't feel like too much. If you know your roots, what and where you come from, that's the most important thing. If you find something that's tied to your roots, to who you are, I'm pretty sure you'll have passion for it and something will come of that."

Before college, Pitalo's biggest passion was for soccer, and as she entered high school she watched as the beautiful game opened doors for her that are rarely open to foster kids. Four years after receiving a scholarship from USC, she is hoping to open those same doors for foster kids just like her.

"A lot of things aren't working [in the foster system]," Pitalo explains. "I got really lucky, and I know that and that's why I'm so passionate about changing it. I was lucky to stay with all of my siblings, but all of my older siblings had to deal with hard stuff. There is so much trauma sustained by kids in the process. I was so lucky not to experience that."

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Pitalo was raised by foster parents (right) who loved and supported her, a simple yet often hard-to-find environment in today's foster care system. When she says she considers herself lucky, it's because her upbringing kept her from the unfortunate reality facing most foster kids. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, children emerging from the foster care system are five times more likely to develop PTSD and seven times more likely to develop drug dependence than a child not raised in foster care. Twenty-five percent of foster children experience homelessness within four years of leaving the system, and 48 percent will be unemployed for an extended period of time at some point in adulthood. Less than 10 percent of foster children will go on to graduate from college. 

In her current internship at The Right Way Foundation in Los Angeles, Pitalo and her coworkers help transitional-age foster youth learn life skills, find resources and apply for jobs. She is appreciative and proud of the work that they do but believes strongly that change needs to happen at a higher level in order to help foster youth in a tangible and large-scale fashion.

"There are things that need to change," Pitalo says with conviction. "There needs to be more consistency. Foster kids need real relationships, because that's what every person needs to grow and to thrive. To bounce around between pseudo-relationships is unhealthy. The trauma inside is what's hindering them from doing what they need to and want to do. That's the area I really want to work and help in."

Guided by a deeply personal and societally important mission, USC's 2016 female Pac-12 Post Graduate scholarship recipient is headed back home to attend Willamette University to get her master's. From there, she wants to work for benefit corporations, leveraging business to do good for society, and then one day in government, where she can help to fix the country's broken foster care system.

But before she sets off to change the world, Pitalo will celebrate on Thursday alongside family, teammates and coaches, and there's a lot for her to be both happy about and thankful for. For her scholarship to Willamette next year, for four amazing years at USC, for a love of soccer that carried her from Salem to Southern California and back again and most of all, for a foster family and story that's one-of-a-kind. At graduation, Pitalo will celebrate that story, with the hope and confidence that one day she can help other foster children have a chance at the same happy ending.  

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Dancing on Home

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USC beach volleyball not only won the sport's first-ever NCAA Championship, but the Women of Troy competed with the ultimate balance of ferocity and spirit. The Trojans danced and smiled their way through a perfect postseason led by Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes, who were named First Team All-Americans on Wednesday.

Here is a look back at a great season and an even better team:


Let's Go Dodgers

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A Bruin and a Trojan found a reason to unite last night as Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, a UCLA alum, welcomed USC head coach Clay Helton to Chavez Ravine for a ballgame.


Bricio's Plan

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USC women's volleyball will say a final farewell to one of its all-time greatest student-athletes this week as Samantha Bricio graduates. The 2015 National Player of the Year earned her degree in psychology and has immediate plans to play professionally, but ultimately wants to return to USC to get her master's in criminal psychology.

Click here for the full USC News graduation feature.

Her career goal is to become an FBI profiler. "For me and my family, it's school first, volleyball second," Bricio said. "Everybody says I'm crazy, but I just think it's really interesting. Have you ever watched Criminal Minds? That's what I want to do."


Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor



College football is rooted in tradition, and no university holds deeper roots than USC. From our timeless uniforms to our historic stadium, the Trojan tradition is passed down from generation to generation.

The Spirit of Troy provides the soundtrack for that tradition. The Trojan Marching Band dates its origins back to shortly after the school was founded in 1880. However, the band did not start out in its current form. It was once merely just a band, which then transformed into a dynamic mix of band and spirit, and one that is recognized nationwide.

"When I walked onto campus for the first time, I saw the band and I couldn't turn back," said junior band member Chris Wodniak. "There's simply no other band that operates at the intensity of the Trojan Marching Band, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it."

"The Greatest Marching Band in the History of the Universe" owns two platinum records and has played with Fleetwood Mac, Jason Derulo, Neil Diamond, Slash, Beck, and so many others. Most importantly, the band plays on game days for the Trojans, with the biggest performances coming for the dozen or so football games.

Like any great group, and especially any great band, there's always a person who shoulders a little bit more responsibility, someone who symbolizes the group's dynamic and power. First and foremost, Dr. Arthur C. Bartner, the director of the Spirit of Troy, is "the man on the ladder." But at the ground level, the USC Drum Major leads the line. Enter Chris Wodniak, the recently appointed drum major for the 2016-17 school year.

The drum major is not what it sounds like, solely pertaining to a percussion or drum player. Wodniak is a trombone player.

"The drum major position goes out to the best candidate regardless of what section they come from. I believe the last trombone drum major was five years ago. After that, there were three trumpet players and a mellophone/alto sax player," says Wodniak.

The drum major appears, to the untrained eye, as a member of the band dressed up on game days as a mascot, but it is so much more.

"The drum major is the figurehead, the pinnacle of student leadership in the Spirit of Troy. It is, in fact, an elected position within the ensemble, someone who has marched with the band for three or four years," says assistant band director Jacob Vogel.

Just from hearing Vogel and Wodniak talk about the position, you get a real appreciation for its significance.

"The Drum Major is the face of the Trojan Marching Band and the embodiment of Trojan Nation: the students, our athletes, the USC staff, our alumni, and fans all over the world," explains Wodniak. "It personifies our endless pride, unwavering spirit and resilience no matter what happens."

Terrific Tennis Trio

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Spanning the gauntlet from promising rookie to accomplished veteran, a trio of Trojan tennis players received well-earned ITA Southwest Regional Awards this week. Senior Max de Vroome received Senior Player of the Year honors after achieving his highest career singles ranking this year (#18) and leading the Trojans to their 10th consecutive NCAA Team Championship appearance. Freshman Jake DeVine received Rookie of the Year honors after helping his team to the Tournament with a 25-12 overall singles record. On the women's side, senior Giuliana Olmos earned the program's first ITA/Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award since 2007. 


First-round competition in the NCAA Tournament begins for the Women of Troy this Friday vs UNLV in Malibu at 10 a.m. PT. The USC men's team also open tournament play on Friday at 1 p.m. vs UNLV at Marks Stadium. Be sure to follow @USCMensTennis and @USCWomensTennis for in-match updates and more this postseason!

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Historic Hosts

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The USC women's lacrosse team made a lot more than just program history when it won the MPSF Championship last week with a perfect 19-0 record. As the five seed in the upcoming 2016 NCAA Tournament, the Women of Troy will host the first-ever NCAA tournament games on the West Coast this Friday and Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.


The Trojans' seed includes a first round bye, so USC will face the winner of Stanford (14-4) and James Madison (10-9), which play Friday at 3 p.m. PT, on Sunday at 12 p.m. PT. Seeded above the Women of Troy is defending national champion and No. 1 ranked Maryland (the only other undefeated team in the nation), along with No. 2 seed Florida, No. 3 seed North Carolina and No. 4 seed Syracuse. 

Each of this weekend's first and second round games will be streamed live on USC's Pac-12 portal which can be found here. Be sure to follow @USCTrojansLAX for in-game updates, photos and more. 

Trojan Huddle on Tour

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The 2016 Trojan Huddle Tour, featuring USC head football coach Clay Helton and men's basketball coach Andy Enfield, is hitting the road in May and June to give fans a preview of the upcoming football and basketball seasons. Alongside several student-athletes, former head football coach John Robinson and the Trojan Marching Band, the head coaches will provide an insider's chalk talk at each tour stop. 

The four stops are: May 25 (La Jolla Country Club), May 26 (Balboa Bay Resort), June 1 (Brian Kennedy Founders' Room, USC Galen Center) and June 3 (Indian Wells Country Club). Trojan fans can enjoy a meal and silent auction along with the talk and Q&A session. 

A cocktail reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. at each venue. Dinner will be served at the USC Galen Center and Indian Wells stops while hors d'oeuvres will be served in La Jolla and Newport Beach. 

For more information, click here (use "Guest" for online ID), call USC Athletics at (213) 740-4155 or email athrsvp@usc.edu.

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Regional Co-Champs

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No. 1 USC women's golf won its seventh consecutive NCAA Regional, tying host Stanford for first place, to qualify for the NCAA Championships (May 20-25 in Eugene, Oregon). The Women of Troy have made the NCAA Tournament for 19 consecutive years.

Click here for the recap.

Junior Tiffany Chan led the way for the Trojans, tying for fourth overall at 2-under. Junior Gabriella Then (pictured) made the Top 10, and freshman Robynn Ree took 13th.

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One Team. One Heritage. One Future.

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The Coliseum Renovation website unveiled a brand new intro video, interactive timeline and much more this morning, so the Trojan Family can learn about the improvements coming to one of America's historical landmarks.

Click here to go to ColiseumRenovation.com!

The venerable stadium has been our home since 1923, and thanks to this restoration project, the Trojans' future in the Coliseum is secure for the generations to come.

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Amazing Amalie

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For the second time in two seasons, USC junior heptathlete Amalie Iuel took on seven events in two days and emerged victorious at the Pac-12 Multi-Events Championships. The 2016 Pac-12 Heptathlon Champion won or tied for the lead in five events and finished in the top three in all but one at the competition in Seattle last weekend. Iuel was the only competitor to score over 6,000 points, and her total of 6,011 propelled her from third to second on USC's all-time list, and to seventh all-time in the conference. Iuel's title, along with freshman Lyndsey Lopes' fifth-place finish, give the Trojan women 14 points heading into the 2016 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships. 


After finishing in third in 2015, Iuel was intent upon returning to the top of the podium where she stood as champion her freshman season. She leapt out of the gate on day one, tying for the lead in her first event (the 100m HH), winning the next (high jump), and never relinquishing her lead in the competition after that. The junior went on to win the long jump, 800m and 200m en route to her second Pac-12 Title, recording personal records in the high jump, shot put, 200m and 800m. 

Lopes recorded a personal best total point score of 5,277 to place fifth, earning USC four total points in the Pac-12 Track & Field Championships. The remaining 20 events will be contested in Seattle on May 14 and 15. Be sure to follow @USC_Track_Field to stay up to date on the Trojans' postseason action. 

Back-to-Back on the Beach

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IMG_5305.JPGUSC women's beach volleyball swept Florida State, 3-0, to claim the first-ever NCAA Championship in beach volleyball and earn the program back-to-back national championships. The Women of Troy finished the remarkable season on a 30-match winning streak, dominating the country's best teams on the biggest stage in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Click here for the recap.

Click here for the highlights.

Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes extended their two-year run of victories to 73 straight, clinching the championship dual match over the Seminoles after Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler and Jo Kremer/Zoe Nightingale earned the first two points. Claes and Hughes were named to the All-Tournament Team at the No. 1 position, while Kremer/Nightingale made it at the No. 5 spot.


The inaugural NCAA Championship was nationally televised on TBS, and the Women of Troy emerged as the stars of the show. From their dancing warm-up, to the inspirational story of Alexa Strange and her blind mother, and finally their victory dip into the ocean, the Trojans brought an ineffable spirit all season long.

"We're coming home with the natty!" said an emotional head coach Anna Collier. "We're bringing it home for Pat Haden and the USC athletic department."



Spring Breakdown: Inside Linebackers

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Communication is key in Clancy Pendergast's defense, so the onus is on the inside linebackers and safeties to quarterback the unit.

The Trojans have a nice mix at inside linebacker, highlighted by Freshman All-American Cam Smith, who is on schedule to return from last season's knee injury. The veterans of the group, seniors Quinton Powell and Michael Hutchings, enjoyed excellent spring practices, benefiting from a clean slate under this coaching staff.

Talented rising sophomore Osa Masina battled nagging injuries as a freshman and during spring, but he has the ability to make a major impact this fall. Junior Olajuwon "Boodah" Tucker stepped up in a pinch last season, so he brings added experience to the group.


Two-Horse Race

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Put on your biggest hat and mix up some mint juleps because the Trojan Family has two horses entered in Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

trojan-nation-20160505.jpgThe obvious favorite is Trojan Nation, named in honor of proud USC alum Morty Gilbert, the father of the horse's owner. Trojan Nation (pictured right) is an underdog (43-1) and drawn on the rail, but he would not be the first Trojan horse to surprise.

He is a maiden, meaning he has never won a race, but he comes from good stock, and he finished second in the Wood Memorial. He will be the first winless horse entered in the Kentucky Derby since 1998.

"I'm sure there's horses getting a lot more press than this guy, but that's all right," said trainer Paddy Gallagher.

Click here for more on Trojan Nation.

However, Trojan Nation is actually owned by two Bruins, Aaron Sones and Julie Gilbert, so if you find that unsavory, cheer on the horse in Cardinal and Gold silks, Danzing Candy. The 33-1 shot is owned by Jim and Dianne Bashor, Trojans through and through, who dedicated Bashor Lounge in the new Heritage Hall.

Danzing Candy (pictured below) will be coming on the outside from post 20. The California colt won the San Felipe Stakes and finished fourth at the Santa Anita Derby.

danzing-candy-mike-smith-20160312.jpg(Photos via the LA Times)

Championship Season

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With six active teams in the national Top 5, including four conference title winners and two programs on undefeated runs, USC is ready for championship season.


Malibu Magic

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USC women's tennis will begin its NCAA journey just a short drive away along the coastal cliffs of Malibu. The Women of Troy will open against UNLV on Friday, May 13, and a win sets up a date with either host No. 8 Pepperdine or Idaho on Saturday, May 14.

Click here for more.

After a 12-5 season, USC made the NCAA Tournament for the 25th consecutive time, including a semifinal run last year. Head coach Richard Gallien, who has presided over the last 21 of those 25 straight postseason appearances, has built the team around two-time All-American Giuliana Olmos as well as sophomore standouts Madison Westby and Gabby Smith, versatile junior Zoe Katz, and freshmen phenoms Jessica Failla and Rianna Valdes.

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Growing Legends

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USC beach volleyball duo Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes are in the midst of historic careers. The juniors have already collected team and pairs national championships as sophomores, and now they are the inaugural Pac-12 Beach Volleyball Pair of the Year.

Click here for the full story.

Claes and Hughes are riding a 69-match winning streak, having dropped just one set this season, into the inaugural NCAA Championships, which begin Friday in Alabama. Claes was also named the Pac-12 Player of the Year, while Hughes, junior Sophie Bukovec and senior Alexa Strange joined her on the all-conference first team.

No. 1 USC beach volleyball team (30-2) was awarded the second seed in the inaugural NCAA championship tournament and will face Georgia State (25-8) in a first-round match on Friday at 11 a.m. CT (9 a.m. PT). The event will be televised live by Turner Networks, with truTV providing live coverage on Friday and Saturday from 2-5 p.m. CT (12-3 p.m. PT). The championship round will air on TBS on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT (11 a.m. PT). Additional live streaming coverage of every court in each match of the tournament will be available on NCAA.com.


Spring Breakdown: Outside Linebackers

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New USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast wants his defense living in the opponent's backfield, collecting tackles-for-loss and harassing enemy quarterbacks. The edge rushers are expected to lead the charge, starting with versatile junior Uchenna Nwosu and returning sack leader sophomore Porter Gustin.

Jabari Ruffin is the veteran of the group, entering his fifth season, while redshirt freshman John Houston Jr. and true freshman Oluwole Betiku benefited from spring football. More help arrives in the fall, including highly touted pass rusher Connor Murphy from Arizona.


Hoping to be the Perfect 10

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USC men's tennis will enter the NCAA Tournament as the 10-seed, hosting the first two rounds at Marks Stadium. The Trojans will open against UNLV on Friday, May 13, and the winner will advance to play the winner of Georgia Tech vs. UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, May 14.

Click here for more.

Under the direction of head coach Peter Smith, USC has won five of the last seven NCAA titles and the program boasts 21 national championships, the most by any school. Last year, the Trojans were bounced in the quarterfinals.

USC went 15-6 this season, reaching the NCAA Tournament for the 10th consecutive year. The Trojans are led by senior Max de Vroome and junior Nick Crystal, both of whom earned spots in the NCAA Singles bracket.

The final four rounds of the NCAA Championship will be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here is the complete bracket:

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New Name, Same Goal

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USC beach volleyball is ready to defend its national championship, while also pursuing the inaugural NCAA title now that it has become an officially recognized sport. The Women of Troy are the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and they will open with No. 7 Georgia State on Friday (9 a.m PT).

Click here for the complete preview.

The double-elimination tournament spans three days and will be broadcast live on truTV and TBS. If the Trojans get past Georgia State, they will face the winner of Pepperdine and Arizona, which pits their rival against the team that they recently beat in the Pac-12 Championship, on Saturday.

USC is 30-2 on the campaign, having lost only to Florida State, the tournament's top seed, and Pepperdine, which the Women of Troy also defeated twice this season. The Trojans are riding a 26-match win streak led by their top pair, Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes, who have won 69 consecutive matches including the AVCA Pairs National Championship last season.

For all the day-to-day coverage and results, please follow @USCBeach on Twitter. Here is the official NCAA bracket:

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GuGu For Two!

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pac12-olmos.jpgUSC women's tennis senior Giuliana Olmos has led the line for the Women of Troy for two years now and received back-to-back All-Pac-12 First Team honors for her efforts.

This season, Olmos compiled a singles record of 19-11 overall and 11-4 in dual match play (5-1 in conference), earning a spot in the NCAA Singles Championship. She also played on the top doubles team with Gabby Smith, ranked No. 4 in the country after going 17-8, and they were invited to compete in the NCAA Tournament as well.

Click here for the complete release.

Three other Trojans earned Pac-12 Honorable Mention: junior Zoe Katz and sophomores Madison Westby and Gabby Smith.

USC offensive linemen Toa Lobendahn, Damien Mama and Viane Talamaivao make up the core of the Trojans' "UCE Crew" - a close-knit group of Polynesian players who are rarely seen apart from one another, whether on the field or around campus.

While the trio is often attached at the hip, they weren't always on the same page when it came to acing their Otter Pops quiz. Check out their hilarious video - including some dance moves by Lobendahn - here:

Hoey Leads the Way

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pac12-RICO.jpgNo. 3 USC men's golf has enjoyed a resurgence over the last three seasons thanks in large part to Rico Hoey, the first piece of the program's renovation. The junior leader was named All-Pac-12 First Team for pacing the Trojans in stroke average, rounds in the 60s (12) and top 10 finishes (eight).

Click here for the complete story.

Hoey was joined on the conference honor roll by second team selections sophomores Sean Crocker and Jonah Texeira. Senior Andrew Levitt made honorable mention, while Justin Suh earned All-Pac-12 Freshman.

The Trojans will find out their NCAA Championships Regional destination on Thursday when the NCAA announces its field. They were the national runners-up last year and reached the No. 1 ranking this season.

A Day at Dedeaux

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It's a great time of year to spend a day at Dedeaux Field, and the Trojan Family has three more chances to catch USC baseball this weekend against Washington.

Click here for ticket information.

Here is a look at the beauty of baseball played under the Southern Californian sun:


Pool Party

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USC women's water polo has even more to accomplish, but there's already a lot to celebrate from the Trojans' undefeated season in the pool. After clinching the MPSF Title last weekend, the conference awarded USC head coach Jovan Vavic his fifth selection for MPSF Women's Water Polo Coach of the Year, while junior Stephania Haralabidis became the fourth Trojan in the past eight years to earn honors as the MPSF Player of the Year. 


Haralabidis is the eighth Trojan to receive the award in program history, and leads a pack of six All-MPSF honorees from the 2016 roster, including sister Ioanna Haralabidis and freshman goalie Amanda Longan on the first team. Junior Brigitta Games received a spot on the All-MPSF Second Team, while Brianna Daboub and Avery Peterson earned All-MPSF Honorable Mention.

Games and Haralabidis were also named finalists for the Cutino Award, the Heisman Trophy of water polo. It's only the fourth time in program history that USC women's water polo can claim two finalists.

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Boys of Summer

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With the NFL Draft behind us and baseball season in full swing, it's a good reminder that the Trojans have more than one pipeline to the pros. Last week, USC baseball alum Andrew Triggs was called up to the Oakland A's, making him the 111th major leaguer in Trojan history, the most by any school.

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No. 1 With Three to Go

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Boasting a perfect 23-0 record, No. 1 USC women's water polo is hoping its upcoming trip to the NCAA Championships will yield the same outcome as the last time they held the top seed. The Women of Troy brought home an NCAA Title as a one-seed in 2013, and after securing the MPSF Title last weekend, the Trojans are intent on repeating history when the 2016 tournament opens on May 13. 


The 2016 Championships will be a 10-team, single-elimination tournament that includes four MPSF teams - USC, UCLA, Stanford and Arizona State. The Trojans open play at 3:30 p.m. PT on May 13, playing the winner of one of two play-in games. 

Be sure to follow @USCWaterPolo to stay up to date on the Trojans as they pursue the program's fifth national championship and second undefeated season!

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Greatness Continues

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USC men's and women's golf have championship caliber teams this season as the NCAA Tournament nears, but both programs also have storied pasts upon which the foundation for success was built. Trojan golfing history was recognized by the Pac-12, which placed four men and two women on the All-Century Teams.

The USC men had the Pac-12's Coach of the Century, Randy Lein, as well as four players: Scott Simpson, Sam Randolph, Craig Stadler and Dave Stockton - the most by any school in the conference. Two Women of Troy, Lizette Salas and Annie Park (pictured), were given all-century designation.

Click here for the full story on the men.

Click here for the full story on the women.

The men's quartet represents the historical greatness of the program highlighted by Stadler, the 1982 Masters winner, and Simpson, the 1987 U.S. Open champion. The Women of Troy have been a dominant program over the last decade led by national champions Salas, a four-time All-American, and Park, the 2013 National Player of the Year.

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The Trojans are counting on youth to provide their first line of defense this fall. In the absence of Antwaun Woods, Delvon Simmons and Greg Townsend Jr., who are now pursuing NFL careers, USC will look to sophomores Rasheem Green, Noah Jefferson, Jacob Daniel and Malik Dorton along with redshirt freshmen Kevin Scott and Christian Rector and freshman Liam Jimmons to anchor the line in new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's defense.

The Trojans are counting on youth to form the first line of defense this fall. #FightOn #AllAboutBall

A video posted by USC Trojans (@usc_athletics) on

Don't Mock the Mocks

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The 2016 Trojans have three players that the way-too-early 2017 NFL mock drafts have already targeted as potential first round picks. OT Zach Banner, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and CB/WR Adoree' Jackson are all considered prime prospects for the next level, although Smith-Schuster and Jackson are still juniors, so they could opt to return to school after this season.

While so much can change in a year, here's what some mock drafts had to say about USC's star trio:

Senior OT Zach Banner

No. 15 to the Bengals (The Big Lead)
No. 16 to the Bills (SB Nation)
No. 23 to the Vikings (Bleacher Report)

Junior WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

No. 5 to the Titans (SB Nation)
No. 7 to the Titans (The Big Lead)
No. 21 to the Chiefs (CBS Sports)
No. 26 to the Bengals (Bleacher Report)

Junior CB/WR Adoree' Jackson

No. 11 to the Titans (SB Nation)
No. 18 to the Giants (CBS Sports)
No. 19 to the Panthers (The Big Lead)
No. 20 to the Raiders (Sports Illustrated)

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What mom doesn't love diamonds as a gift on Mother's Day? Baseball diamonds that is. Join USC Baseball this Sunday (May 8) at 1 p.m. for a Mother's Day Brunch special ticket pack which includes two game tickets, brunch for two, a USC tote bag, O-P-I nail polish, an autographed poster and more! 

Crosstown Clinched

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crosstown-clinched.jpgUSC has clinched the 2015-16 BMW Crosstown Cup over UCLA! For the 10th time in 15 years, the Trojans defeated the Bruins in the annual head-to-head competition.

Click here for the full story.

The Trojans finished strong by besting the Bruins four times this past weekend, winning the annual dual meets in women's rowing and women's track & field, as well as topping UCLA in the Pac-12 men's golf and beach volleyball championships. While USC and UCLA baseball are set to square off May 13-15 and the Trojans and Bruins could meet in postseason play in several sports, UCLA cannot capture enough remaining events to make up the 45-point deficit.

Click here for the updated results and schedule.

"Congratulations to all of our student-athletes and coaches for their efforts and performances in helping USC claim its 10th SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup," said USC athletic director Pat Haden. "The USC-UCLA rivalry is the best in college athletics, with two universities of such noted academic and athletic excellence sharing the same city. This Crosstown Cup competition means so much to both schools and to our fans.  On behalf of Trojans everywhere, I am proud to say that USC is once again the Crosstown Cup champion."


2016 NFL Draft Recap

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USC added four more members to its record-setting fraternity of all-time NFL Draft picks this weekend, and seven Trojans received UDFA offers from six different teams. 

For our complete 2016 NFL Draft recap, check out our Slate site below:

#USCtotheNFL

Splitting Sunday

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For the third year in a row, the USC women's track & field team defeated UCLA at the annual dual meet held in Westwood on Sunday. The Women of Troy won 13 or 19 events and outscored the Bruins 97-66, while the men's team fell 103-60 and won eight events. The Trojan women have won eight of the last nine meetings with their crosstown rivals. 


"I'm proud of the team today, I loved the way they finished the meet," said USC Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert. "We came in as underdogs on both sides and we came out on top for the women. We had great performances on the men's side and the women really stepped up and came through."

The women's team started the day strong and never looked back, with Tanya Sapa winning the Women of Troy's first event of the day with a mark of 55-7.75 in the shot put and the women's 4x400m relay team ending the meet with a winning time of 3:36.70. Jaide Stepter, Kendall Ellis and Cameron Pettigrew finished one, two, three in the 400m and Tynia Gaither, DeAnna Hill and Ellis later swept the 200m to give the Trojans a combined 18 points in just two events. Gather also won the 100m with a PR of 11.21 (+0.1) and Stepter also finished first in the 400m IH.

On the men's side, sophomore Adoree' Jackson led the way, winning the long jump, the 100m and running the final leg in the victorious 4x100m relay. Ricky Morgan, who ran the second leg of the relay, won the 400m race in 46.32 as the only Trojan in the event. Diego Lopez and Nathan Bultman won the javelin and hammer throw, respectively, scoring 10 points for the Trojan men in the field. 

Next up, the USC men's and women's track & field teams will prepare for the Pac-12 Championships. The Multi-Events Championships will be held in Seattle Washington on May 7 and 8 while the Pac-12 Championships will be held in Seattle on May 14 and 15. Be sure to follow @USC_Track_Field to stay up to date on all postseason track news. 

Check out all the John McGillen photos from the annual dual meet...

Adoree' Knows Track

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This spring, sophomore dual-sport star Adoree' Jackson elected to focus exclusively on his track & field pursuits, taking the spring season off from football to focus on making the Olympic Trials. It's evident after this weekend that his choice is paying off, at least as far as USC Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith-Gilbert is concerned.

In USC and UCLA's annual dual meet on Sunday, Jackson won the long jump, 100m and 4x100m relay (along with fellow USC football players Ronald Jones II and Dominic Davis) and placed second in the 200m, single-handedly scoring 13 points for USC and helping the Trojans earn five more in the relay. 

His 10.38 in the 100m was a personal record, the men's relay time of 39.89 was a season best, but despite winning the long jump with a mark of 25-4.75, Jackson told Lindsey Thiry of the LA Times he was unsatisfied with his performance. With the final regular season meet now behind him, Jackson's full focus is on finishing the year strong enough in the Pac-12 and NCAA Championships to qualify for the Olympic Trials. The top 24 long jumpers in the country will qualify, and the sophomore can also earn a trip to Eugene with a mark of 26-5. 

"I'm not even worried about that," Jackson told Thiry. "At the end of the day you just got to go out there and compete and let it come to you. ...That's why I'm being patient and the mark is going to come."

Grand Slam Weekend

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Having lost the first game of the series and locked in a one-run battle, senior A.J. Ramirez belted a grand slam to turn USC baseball's fortunes around, galvanizing an 8-5 win on Friday followed by a 5-2 victory on Saturday. The Trojans took two out of three from No. 24 Arizona to improve to 9-9 in Pac-12 play, moving into a fifth place tie in the conference standings.

Click here for the series recap.

Ramirez now leads USC with 8 home runs and 35 RBI, but Timmy Robinson (7 HR and 34 RBI) and Jeremy Martinez (5 HR and 34 RBI) follow closely behind. Robinson delivered a clutch two-run single before Ramirez's grand slam, and Martinez keyed USC's offense with three hits in Saturday's win.

USC has another three-game home series this week to keep the momentum going. The Trojans will host Washington on Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (6 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) at Dedeaux Field.


Carrying the 6

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

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When DeMar DeRozan was drafted by the Toronto Raptors out of USC with the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, he was joining a team that had won just 33 games the year before. After winning 22 games in his only season with the Trojans, joining a losing franchise was an adjustment in itself.

In the seven years since, DeRozan has seen franchise players Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani leave, passing the torch onto No. 10. DeRozan has felt the pressure of an entire city, and in fact an entire country, that had not won a playoff series since 2001.

After losing a heartbreaking Game 7 at home in 2014 to the Brooklyn Nets and an embarrassing sweep to the Washington Wizards last year, 2016 was more or less "now or never" for Toronto and DeRozan.

Following an impressive franchise-record 56 wins, and a back-and-forth battle with Paul George and the Indiana Pacers, DeRozan finally helped gift the city of Toronto a playoff series victory. On Sunday, the Raptors clinched the series with an 89-84 win at home, much in thanks to the USC alum's game-high 30 points.

DeRozan played a game-high 40 minutes for Toronto and was all over the box score with five rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks. With the Miami Heat up next for DeRozan and "the 6," a lot more responsibility will fall on his shoulders as Toronto chases their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2001.

Trojans Finish Fifth

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor 

USC_Golf_North_rach_7033.jpgThe 2016 Pac-12 Championships concluded this weekend for USC's men's golf, as the Trojans placed fifth. No. 2 USC came into the fourth round 2-over and solidly in third place. They trailed just Stanford and California heading into the final round of play on Sunday in Utah.

Despite a strong showing through three rounds, the Trojans hit some rough patches on Sunday, but were able to finish in the Top 5. Rico Hoey led the way, finishing the weekend at even par 284 (70-70-72-72), which landed him in a tie for 11th.

There was another bright spot for the Trojans as UCLA finished behind them in the Pac-12 Tournament,  collecting 10 points in the SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup, which USC officially clinched this weekend.

With the Pac-12 Championships over, the Trojans will turn their attention to the NCAA Regional Championships in hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. The Regional Championships will take place May 16-18 at a location to be determined later.

Making History

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One year ago today, the USC women's lacrosse team awaited its postseason fate, hoping for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history after finishing second in the 2015 MPSF Tournament. Their eventual bid and first round victory were momentous for a program just three years in existence. 

One year later, the Women of Troy have surpassed all expectations once again, winning the program's first-ever MPSF Title on Sunday and extending their undefeated streak to 19 games to earn an automatic bid to the 2016 NCAA Tournament. With an 8-5 win over Stanford, No. 5 USC tied the conference record for most wins in a single season and became the first team in league history to finish both the regular season and MPSF Tournament undefeated. 


In another offensive onslaught, the Women of Troy outshot the Cardinal, 27-16, led by junior attacked Michaela Michael who scored her 25th hat trick of her career with five draw controls. MPSF Player of the Year senior captain Courtney Tarleton caused two turnovers en route to earning tournament MVP honors. Tarleton, along with Caroline deLyra, Kelsey Dryer and Amanda Johansen, also secured a spot on the MPSF All-Tournament team.

The Women of Troy now wait, once again, to hear the specifics on their NCAA postseason plans, but this time their appearance in the 26-team tournament is guaranteed. Selections will be announced on NCAA.com on Sunday, May 8 at 6 p.m. PT. The tournament begins the weekend of May 13 and will conclude the weekend of May 27 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Be sure to follow @USCTrojansLAX for in-game updates, photos and more all postseason long. 

Check out the highlights from the 2016 MPSF Championship game...

Trophies

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Written by Max Holm, USC blog contributor

For the fourth time in program history, USC's women's water polo captured the MPSF crown and continued its impressive, undefeated season with an 8-5 comeback win against Stanford on Sunday. The Women of Troy now stand at an incredible 23-0 this year.

Click here for the complete recap.

Despite falling behind by two goals early, USC showed composure and resilience, answering Stanford's every punch. As the game remained tight in the fourth period, the Trojans scored four consecutive goals to pull away late and put the championship to bed.

Junior Avery Peterson and sophomore Brianna Daboub carried the Women of Troy with three goals each, but it was sophomore Hayley McKelvey who scored the most decisive goal. With the Trojans on a big run, McKelvey gave USC a 7-4 advantage and they never looked back.

To partner the strong showing on the offensive side of the ball, the Women of Troy saw off several 6-on-5 chances for Stanford behind 12 saves from freshman goalie Amanda Longan.

Now with the MPSF crown theirs, the Women of Troy will await the NCAA Tournament bracket, which will be announced later today.

Boat Raced

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"All were merged into one smoothly working machine; they were, in fact, a poem of motion, a symphony of swinging blades." - Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat

No. 12 USC women's rowing dominated No. 20 UCLA in the annual Crosstown Rowdown, sweeping the competition for the second time (2004) and extending the program's perfect record over the Bruins to 15-0.

"All four boats performed very well, up to their potential," said head coach Zenon Babraj. "They raised up to the occasion and performed fantastically."

Click here for the recap.

The Trojans' varsity eight continued its own streak in the dual having never lost in the 15 head-to-head meetings. USC's top boat blew away UCLA's best by eight seconds.

Click here for the video highlights and recap.

The Women of Troy now begin preparations for the Pac-12 Championships set for Sunday, May 15, at Lake Natoma in Gold River, CA.

Here are the John McGillen photos from the Dual Meet:


Pride of the Pac-12

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The Women of Troy are making history in the first year that both the Pac-12 Conference and NCAA are officially sponsoring collegiate beach volleyball. The No. 1 Trojans cemented themselves as the first-ever beach volleyball Pac-12 Champions on Sunday, defeating No. 6 Arizona in a 3-0 sweep at Merle Norman Stadium.


After winning the conference's first-ever pairs crown on Friday, USC's All-American duo of Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes continued what has been a remarkable run dating back to 2015, in extending their match winning streak to 69 in team play on Sunday. The pair won its 44th match of the season to lead the Trojans to the team title and were named to the first-ever All-Tournament Team for their outstanding performance. 

The team victory was the 26th-straight for the Women of Troy who are now preparing to defend their national title as the No. 2 seed in the inaugural NCAA Championships held in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The action begins on Friday at 9 a.m. PT against seventh-seeded Georgia State. Live coverage will be provided on TruTV on both Friday and Saturday. The championship round will air on TBS on Sunday at 11 a.m. 

Be sure to follow @USCBeach for behind-the-scenes access of the Trojans' upcoming weekend!

Click here to watch Hughes and Claes' breakdown of the Pac-12 Championship


Check out all the John McGillen photos from Sunday's historic match...