Gatorade Track & Field Athlete of the Year

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

Future USC track star Jasmyne Graham was named the 2015 California Girls Gatorade Track & Field Athlete of the Year on Wednesday after her impressive performance at the high school level. The hurdler won the CIF State title in both the 100 and 300m hurdles, setting records for the fastest times run by a high schooler this season with times of 13.17 and 40.73, respectively. 

The Gatorade State Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year awards go to individuals who demonstrate outstanding athletic performance and impact while also succeeding in the classroom and in the community. 

(Photo by Kirby Lee)

Where's the Beef?

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The answer is the USC offensive line. The Trojans will field two of the three biggest men in college football per a new story.

RT Zach Banner is No. 1 on the list at 6-foot-9, 360-pounds. He has the height of a basketball post player, which enables him to carry all that weight while still remaining mobile and athletic.

OG Damien Mama (pictured) comes in third on the NFL list at 6-foot-4, 355-pounds, but he has worked hard at shedding weight since arriving at USC. Nevertheless, he remains a powerful force on the interior offensive line going into his sophomore season.


Fastest Man in College

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The high praise continues for USC junior Andre De Grasse after the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association named him the 2015 Men's Track Athlete of the Year on Wednesday. De Grasse now joins Olympic silver medalist Bryshon Nellum as the second Trojan in three seasons to win the award.

This honor comes on the heels of De Grasse's truly remarkable performance at the NCAA Championships, where he swept the 100m and 200m dashes. He started by besting a powerful field in the 100m with a wind-aided time of 9.75 (+2.7w), which is the second-fastest any condition time by a collegiate runner ever. He followed that by winning the 200m in 19.58 (+2.4w), setting the collegiate any condition record. It is the first time a Trojan won both the 100m and 200m dashes at the NCAA Championships since Clancy Edwards in 1978, and the first time a collegiate runner has swept the two events since 2007 (Walter Dix). These two events came after De Grasse had already run the second leg of USC's 4x100m relay that finished fourth with a time of 38.75, the second-fastest time in school history. 

This is not the first recognition the junior has received this season as he was also named the Pac-12 Men's Track Athlete of the Year after he set the Pac-12 Championship meet record in the 100m with a time of 9.97. 

Mini-Plan Tickets On Sale Now

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

USC football mini-plan tickets are ON SALE NOW for the 2015 season with the option of choosing plans in increments of two to five games. This way fans can choose the games that they want to attend while also saving money on purchasing game tickets individually. 

Click here to make your own mini-plan!!

The mini-plan ticket options begin at $80 but have different pricing options and seating locations at all levels. Individual game tickets will not go on sale until late July, so be sure to sign up quickly for the mini-plan of your choosing.
USC has 7 home games in 2015, including the first 3 contests. The Trojans open against Arkansas State on Sept. 5 of Labor Day weekend and then Idaho on Sept. 12 before hosting Stanford on Sept. 19 in the Pac-12's initial conference game of 2015. Troy next has a Thursday night home game on Oct. 8 against Washington, the team that USC head coach Steve Sarkisian previously guided for 5 seasons. USC then hosts Utah on Oct. 24 as part of Trojan Family Weekend. Following that is Homecoming/Reunion Weekend, featuring the Nov. 7 home game against reigning Pac-12 South Division champion Arizona. USC concludes its 2015 regular season by hosting crosstown foe UCLA in a Thanksgiving weekend clash on Nov. 28.


Practice Made Perfect

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USC football unveiled its state-of-the-art, renovated practice facility, complete with new turf and natural grass fields built for peak performance and safety. The three-and-a-half month construction process included a complete overhaul of both Howard Jones and Brian Kennedy Fields and new branding elements covering the interior of the facility.

The natural grass field is modeled after the top game fields at NFL and elite college stadiums. The renovations included new irrigation, a new subsurface drainage system, removal of the significant crown, and a new layered subsurface with gravel below sand, which is a USGA specification custom blend. The sand was tested multiple times at a nationally renowned turf lab for the correct blend to match USC's climate and desired field conditions.

The new turf field will provide year-round use, exceptional playability in all conditions, the ability to simulate opponent's playing surfaces, and reduced irrigation requirements. The synthetic surface is the latest technology from Field Turf, featuring the "Revolution" turf product with a new infill blend, including cork to reduce surface temperatures on the field. Below the surface, a shock absorption pad is in place for increased player safety and exceptional playability.

The branding elements capture the rich history of USC football, paying homage to the program's greatest seasons, players and milestones. Fall camp opens in early August.

USC to the USA

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The United States Women's National Team announced its new 2015-2016 lineup on Sunday, and USC women's lacrosse assistant coaches Devon Wills and Alyssa Leonard made the 36-man roster.

Wills graduated from Dartmouth in 2006 and has been a goalie for the national team since 2007. She led USA to win the 2009 FIL World Cup and earned Player of the Match for her effort in the championship against Australia. Wills is one of eight players on the 36-man roster that played in the 2013 World cup, where she earned All-World Cup recognition after her dominating performance in the net. 

Leonard just finished her first year as offensive coordinator for USC after graduating from Northwestern in 2014. As a player, she led the lacrosse powerhouse to back-to-back NCAA titles and holds the NCAA record for career draws.

The roster will eventually be cut in half to just 18 players once the 2017 FIL World Cup begins in Guildford, England. 

Photo Gallery: Women's Track Wraps NCAAs

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USC women's track & field finished seventh at the NCAA Championships, collecting 34 points, the program's most since 2006.

Click here for the complete recap.

The Women of Troy were led by the sprinting relay teams, placing second in the 4x400m and third in the 4x100m. More than anything, the Trojans were buoyed by their super talented freshman class, which portends much more success in the future.

Freshman Dior Hall finished third in the 100m HH in a world junior record time of 12.74 (+1.7), bettering her USC freshman record. The only other Trojan freshman to score in the 100m HH was USC record-holder Virginia Powell in 2003 who ran 13.07.

Fellow debutant Ky Westbrook ran 11.11 (+3.1w) in the 100m dash to place fourth. Westbrook's time was the third-fastest ever in the finals by a USC runner, trailing only all-time great and school record-holder Angela Williams.

In all, 10 Women of Troy earned All-American first team honors, four of which are freshmen and only two are seniors. Here is the complete list: Alexandra Collatz (discus), Tera Novy (discus), Dior Hall (100m HH, 4x100m), Amalie Iuel (400m IH and 4x400m), Vanessa Jones (4x400m), Jaide Stepter (4x400m), Alexis Faulknor (4x100m), Ky Westbrook (100m and 4x100m), Kendall Ellis (4x400m) and Deanna Hill (4x100m).

Here are the John McGillen photos from the final day of competition at Hayward Field in Eugene:

Sporting News Preseason All-Americans

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Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The preseason accolades keep rolling in for the Trojans as Sporting News revealed its Preseason All-American teams on Monday. USC DB/LB Su'a Cravens earned first team recognition, while senior C Max Tuerk and sophomore three-way starter Adoree' Jackson were selected to the second team. The three USC selections is the most for any Pac-12 school and it is the only Pac-12 program with more than one nomination. 

Cravens enters his junior season as the leader of the defense that looks to bounce back quickly after losing the No. 6 pick in this year's NFL draft, Leonard Williams. The hybrid outside linebacker/strong safety finished last season with 68 tackles and a team-best 17 tackles-for-loss, which was more than any defensive back in the nation. The two-year starter also posted nine deflections and led the team with three interceptions.

Jackson is a phenomenal athlete playing all three ways for USC earning him Freshman All-American honors in his first year with the program. He also earned his second All-American nomination of the year for track & field after finishing in fifth place in the long jump at the NCAA Championships. As a freshman, the cornerback finished with 49 tackles and 10 deflections. On the other side of the ball, Jackson caught 10 passes for 138 yards including three touchdowns. Finally, the special teams superstar returned 23 kickoffs for 684 yards and two touchdowns, placing him at 14th on the program's career kickoff return yards. 

Tuerk is the veteran of the group, returning for his final season as a no-nonsense offensive lineman. The center will be a four-year starter, but has moved all around the line playing center, left guard, left and right tackle. Tuerk is already nominated for the Rimington Trophy for the 2015 season which goes to the best center in college football.  


Photo Gallery: De Grasse's Night

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Highlighted by Andre De Grasse's showstopping performance, USC men's track & field finished fifth at the NCAA Championships, scoring 40.5 points, the fifth-most ever for the program under the current scoring system. The Trojans were led by the junior sprinter's eye-popping sweep of the 100m and 200m titles as well as Conor McCullough's individual crown in the hammer, but they also received points from three freshmen, paving the road for future growth in the team competition.

Click here for the complete recap.

Along with Adoree' Jackson in the long jump and Nick Ponzio in the shot put, Randall Cunningham scored in his NCAA Championships debut by finishing tied for eighth in the high jump. Jackson also came back to anchor the 4x100m relay team's fourth place finish, joining De Grasse, Just N' Thymes and BeeJay Lee to record the second fastest time in school history.

"We had a fifth-place finish today, last year we finished fourth even though we scored less points. Fifth place was amazing for the fashion in which we did it," said USC Director of Track and Field Caryl Smith Gilbert. 

The "fashion" to which Smith Gilbert is referring centers around De Grasse, who inked his name in the USC and NCAA record books by setting the meet record in the 200m after running the second fastest time ever recorded by a collegian in the 100m. He is the fourth Trojan ever to sweep the top two sprints and the 21st man ever, joining an all-time list, which includes some of the greatest names in track history like Jesse Owens, Justin Gatlin and USC's Mel Patton.

"It was just an unbelievable feeling," said De Grasse. "I never thought that I could run that fast but I just have to believe in myself and now that I've run that fast it's just changed my whole perspective on running. I just wanted to come out here and run. Contribute some points to my team and try and win a championship."

Click here for more of De Grasse's night, including video of both races.

Saturday marks the final event day of the 2014-15 USC athletics' calendar as the Women of Troy close out the NCAA Championships in Eugene. Follow @USC_track_field for live tweets or watch the meet live on ESPN.

Here are John McGillen's photos capturing De Grasse's historic performance from all angles:

Andre the Giant

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Andre De Grasse is the fastest man in college. In fact, the USC track & field junior is on the short list of the fastest men ever to run in the NCAA Championships.

The Canadian sprinter put on a performance for the ages, winning the 100m in 9.75 (+2.7w), the second fastest time ever by a collegian. He then doubled down to blow away the field in the 200m, finishing in 19.58 (+2.4w), which is the fastest time ever run by a collegian.

De Grasse is the fourth Trojan to sweep the 100m and 200m dashes and the first since Clancy Edwards in 1978. He led USC to a fifth place finish as a team at the NCAA Championships.