Pursuing the Pac

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

Sophomore Amalie Iuel got the Women of Troy off to a great start in the Pac-12 Track & Field Championships last weekend, finishing third in the heptathlon and setting personal records in five of seven events to give her team six points overall. After sweeping UCLA in the annual Dual Meet two weeks ago, the entire Trojan track & field program is now looking to best the rest of the conference on Saturday when the rest of this year's championships play out at Drake Stadium.

For complete details regarding this weekend's Pac-12 Track & Field Championships, click here.

Iuel earned a total of 5610 points in the two-day heptathlon thanks to a PR of 2:10.28 in the 800m and a wind-aided PR of 19-2.00/5.84m in the long jump. The reigning Pac-12 heptathlon champion may have placed lower than last season, but her final score moved her from seventh to fourth on USC's all-time heptathlon list.

There are still 20 events to be contested this Saturday as USC looks to dethrone Oregon, which has swept the conference championships six years in a row. Iuel's performance gives the Women of Troy a good head start, but the rest of the team will need to step up to bring the title home.

The meet begins at 10 a.m. PT on Saturday at UCLA's Drake Stadium with preliminary heats of many events and final competition in the hammer throw, long jump, javelin, shot put, steeplechase, 10,000m and women's high jump. The majority of final events will take place on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. PT. The entirety of the meet will be broadcast live on Pac-12 Networks.


Regional Ringers

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No. 1 USC women's golf won its record 11th NCAA Regional and sixth straight to advance to the NCAA Championships, which begin May 22 in Bradenton, Florida. The Women of Troy topped the field at the NCAA St. George (Utah) Regional by six strokes, placing three players (Gabriella Then, Annie Park and Karen Chung) in the Top 11 individually.

Click here for the recap.

USC's win was its fifth this year, marking the third straight year it has won at least that many events. The Women of Troy, who were the national runners-up last year, have an NCAA best active streak of nine consecutive NCAA top 5 finishes.

Then shot a collegiate best 67 to finish fourth overall.

Photo Gallery: Tennis to the Sweet 16

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No. 1 USC women's tennis and No. 7 USC men's tennis took care of business at Marks Stadium over the weekend to advance to the NCAA quarterfinals in Waco, Texas.

The Women of Troy swept Youngstown State and Virginia Tech to setup a Sweet 16 date with No. 16 Texas Tech on Friday. The men made short work of Idaho and San Diego State, setting the stage for a tricky encounter with No. 10 Duke on Saturday.

Here are the John McGillen photos of women's tennis (top) and men's tennis (bottom) in their NCAA Tournament victories:

Water Polo Takes Third

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USC women's water polo responded nicely from the disappointment of dropping a hard fought national semifinal to eventual NCAA champion Stanford by defeating Cal 9-8 in overtime to claim third place on Sunday. Sophomore Brigitta Games delivered the match-winning goal as the Women of Troy finished 24-6 on the season.

Click here for the recap.

USC battled Stanford from start to finish in the Final Four showdown in Palo Alto on Saturday, succumbing 9-8 despite winning the final period. Games and all-time leading scorer Monica Vavic each pocketed a pair of goals in the loss.

Historic Win for Lacrosse

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USC women's lacrosse picked up its first ever NCAA Tournament victory by defeating No. 19 James Madison 13-10 in the first round before falling to No. 3 Duke in Durham over the weekend. In the program's third season, the Women of Troy made major strides, finishing 14-6 overall.

"It feels great. We're really proud of the girls," said head coach Lindsey Munday about the postseason win. "They've worked really hard this year, and they played really poised. Being in their first NCAA game, there's a ton of emotion, but especially down the stretch, we definitely held up composure. I'm really happy."

Click here for more.

Sophomore Michaela Michael (pictured) has emerged as the program's first star, scoring five goals in the win over JMU and another pair in the loss to the Blue Devils. She now owns the school single-season record with 63 goals. Michael is also the USC and MPSF record holder for draw controls in a season with 123.


Another Mark for Monica

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No. 3 USC women's water polo defeated Hawaii 14-7 today to advance to the NCAA semifinals against host No. 2 Stanford (Saturday at 5:15 p.m.).

Click here for more.

The Women of Troy are one win from the NCAA title match thanks in large part to senior Monica Vavic, whose 287th career goal today set the all-time MPSF scoring record. Already the USC scoring leader, Vavic is more focused on winning her second national championship, but the Cardinal stands in the way. USC has fallen by three goals to Stanford in both meetings this season.


State of Troy: May 2015

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Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Haden on sand volleyball's perfect season and national championship...

Team-SandVolley-15.JPGConsidering this is just our fourth season, it is remarkable. There are now over 50 teams playing sand volleyball, so this is no longer a minor sport. Next year, it becomes an official NCAA sponsored sport. We have had only a special few undefeated national champions here at USC, and I was lucky enough to play on one of them back in 1972, so I know how hard it is. To go from not fielding the sport to undefeated in four years is a real testament to coach Anna Collier and the students that she has recruited.

Haden on another strong NFL Draft for the Trojans...

Playing in the NFL is a great job if you can get it. We know that one of the reasons students come here is because we have such a rich tradition of not only graduating our players, but also putting more in the NFL than any other school in the country. It is wonderful to chase that dream as long as you are not precluded from realizing other opportunities as well.

Haden on needing Trojan Athletic Fund members now more than ever...

Thumbnail image for Jimmy Jones for Post.jpgIf you have been paying attention to the conversations around collegiate athletics, you are aware of the budgetary challenges athletic departments are now facing. We want to do all that we possibly can for our students, including full cost of attendance, $1 million more in food, and the O'Bannon deferred compensation costs. This is why supporting the Trojan Athletic Fund is so critically important, so we can continue to have a broad based program. We have some great upcoming events, including the Trojan Huddles throughout Southern California, for returning and prospective Trojan Athletic Fund members.

Haden on the academic progress of the athletic department during his tenure as Graduation approaches...

I am very happy with the direction that we have taken in our academic profile over the last five years. We are graduating over 90% of our student athletes who complete their athletic eligibility at USC. We are just a few percentage points behind the general population, and we want to close that gap. It is not easy being a student here as well as an athlete, but we are making great progress.

Haden on the USC Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2015 being inducted next week...

We have 16 new members, and they are all phenomenal. Some of the names may not resonate with our younger fans, but if you look at someone like Jimmy Jones (pictured), who was an African-American quarterback here in the late 60's and early 70's, one of the very first in America, and the success that he had here and in his career, there are going to be so many stories like that among the 16. There will be names that people know like Pete Carroll, but even the names that you do not recognize, they are part of this rich fabric and tradition of USC athletics. It is really a stirring evening. It reminds you how deep and strong our athletic heritage is.

Power Surge

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No. 13 USC baseball cranked three more home runs on Tuesday to give the team 26 for the season, the most by the program since 2010. Junior A.J. Ramirez is at the front of the slugging line, belting seven bombs, the most by a Trojan since Ricky Oropesa in 2011.

Ramirez and his teammates will have many more chances this weekend against Stanford's pitching staff, which has given up more runs than any other team in the conference. The three-game series against the last place Cardinal is important for USC, which is down to nine regular season games remaining. The final two series after this home stand are at Cal and home to Arizona State, two teams ahead of USC in the Pac-12 standings.


Change at the Top for Men's Volleyball

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USC men's volleyball head coach Bill Ferguson will not return after nine years leading the program, athletic director Pat Haden announced today.

"We want to thank Bill for his service to USC these past nine years," said Haden.  "He fielded competitive teams that often were in the national discussion and he recruited some accomplished players who represented our University well.  He took over a program that had been wallowing for five years and changed its culture not only on the court, but in the classroom and in service to the community.  We will now move forward to re-energize the program."

Said Ferguson:  "I love USC and I always will.  I want to thank the athletic department for the opportunity to coach at USC and for all they did for me, my family and the program.  I'd also like to thank the men's volleyball alumni for their support.  I am proud of the work I did here, and I am proud of the players and assistant coaches who came through our program and those currently here.  The program is in very good shape for the future and I look forward to the success it will enjoy."

Ferguson won 59.5% (150-102) of his matches during his nine-year (2007-15) career.  He led the Trojans to three trips to the NCAA Championships (with a pair of runner-up finishes when he was named National Coach of the Year), two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular-season titles and an MPSF Tournament crown.  Among the players he coached were National Players of the Year Murphy Troy and Tony Ciarelli, along with All-Americans Micah Christenson and Riley McKibbin and current beach star Tri Bourne.

His 2015 team went 19-9, was fourth in the MPSF, advanced to the MPSF Tourney semifinals and finished with a No. 7 national ranking.  The previous two seasons (2013-14), USC had a combined 22-29 record while placing eighth and 11th in the 13-team MPSF.

A search for Ferguson's successor will begin immediately.


Trojan Track Corner: BeeJay Lee

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USC track & field captain BeeJay Lee is a pocketful of dynamite. At just 5-foot-6, he explodes out of the blocks in the sprints, winning the Pac-12 100m dash title in 2013 (10.07).

Lee is even sharper in the classroom. Boasting a 3.17 GPA, the senior is more than prepared for life after track.