Trojans Leaving Their Marks At The Florida Relays
April 4, 2014
Aaron Brown in the men's 200m, Tynia Gaither in the women's 200m and Vanessa Jones in the women's 400m all posted USC all-time top 10 times in their events to lead the Trojans during the first day of the 70th annual Florida Relays held at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. today (April 4).
The 200m Invite races had to be the highlight of the day for USC. First in the women's races, sophomore Tynia Gaither and Jessica Davis were both very impressive. Gaither won her heat with a PR of 22.99 (+0.2), running down Florida's Shayla Sanders in the final 25 meters. Her time moves her into eighth place on USC's all-time list. Gaither finished sixth overall. Davis placed second in her heat with a time of 23.18 (-0.6) which was her fastest 200m time since the 2011 NCAA Championships when she ran 23.04. Davis finished eighth overall and right in between Gaither and Davis in seventh was volunteer assistant coach DeeDee Trotter, who had a time of 23.03. The winner of Davis' heat, Kyra Jefferson of Florida, ran 22.78 which is the collegiate-leading time. Joanna Atkins of Life Speed won the event with a world-leading time of 22.27. Gaither now ranks fourth in the country among collegians in the 200m, while Davis ranks sixth.
Not to be outdone, the men's 200m Invite races also put on a show, specifically the heat with Aaron Brown. The senior Brown took second in his heat and overall with a PR of 20.19 (-0.6). His time moves him into third place on USC's all-time list and is the second-fastest time in the world this season. The man with the top time in the world is Dedric Dukes of Florida who defeated Brown with a time of 19.97, which ranks seventh on the collegiate all-time list. Both runners also broke the Florida Relays meet record. Junior Davonte Stewart also ran in the 200m races and placed second in his heat and eighth overall with a season-best time of 20.68.
Senior Lauren Blackburn and junior Melia Cox were the first Trojans to compete at the Florida Relays when they ran in the women's 100m HH. Blackburn finished fourth in the second heat with a time of 13.49 (+1.9) and placed 11th overall, fifth among collegians. Cox took sixth in the third heat with a time of 13.70 (+3.5w) and finished 20th overall.
The men's 110m HH races were next, and after a constant switching of lanes, heats and seedings, senior Aleec Harris placed second in his heat and fifth overall with a time of 13.61. Harris actually had been listed in the second heat, then no heat, then the sixth heat and finally at the last second back into the second heat. After all of that, he had to endure a false start in his heat, before posting his solid time into a -1.0 wind. Junior Allen Williams took second in the seventh heat and 39th overall with a time of 14.56 (+1.1).
USC next had juniors Akawkaw Ndipagbor and Vanessa Jones, senior Ashley Liverpool and freshman Cameron Pettigrew running in the women's 400m race. Jones set a PR in winning the third heat and placing fifth overall with a time of 52.83, just edging out Marlena Wesh of Clemson (52.85). Her time bettered her seventh-place standing on USC's all-time list and currently ranks fourth on the NCAA descending order list. Liverpool took sixth in the same heat with a time of 53.45 to finish 11th overall and Ndipagbor, running her first outdoor 400m race of the season, had a time of 53.46 to finish fifth in the first heat and 12th overall. Pettigrew ran in the final heat and had a time of 55.71 to place fifth in her heat and 43rd overall.
In the men's 400m race, Stewart ran his first official 400m dash as a Trojan and posted a time of 47,17, good for 22nd. Freshman Alex Rohani ran in the final heat and had a time of 48.23 to finish 49th.
Next on the track was the women's 100m dash. Sophomore Alexis Faulknor won the sixth heat and placed sixth overall with a wind-aided time of 11.38 (+2.9). Her time is the fastest by a Trojan this season, was second among college runners today and seventh in the early season. Gaither placed second in the second heat with a PR of 11.41 (+0.5) which is the fastest wind-legal time by a Trojan this season. Davis placed fifth in the same heat with a time of 11.51 (+0.5). Senior Loudia Laarman was second in the seventh heat and 32nd overall with a time of 11.74 (+1.2).
Brown ran his first 100m dash of the season and placed second in his heat and fifth overall with a time of 10.24 (-0.1) which is tied for seventh among college runners this season. BeeJay Lee ran in the same heat, also his first 100m dash of the season, and placed third with a time of 10.31, good for 10th overall. Junior Bryan Mercado ran a PR of 10.56 (+1.7) to finish 39th and sophomore Jovonte Slater had a time of 10.71 (+0.6) to finish 53rd.
The women's 400m IH were next on the track for the Trojans and sophomore Jaide Stepter and freshman Amalie Iuel competed, running in the third heat. Stepter placed second in the heat and 13th overall with a time of 59.09 and Iuel was fourth in the heat and 16th overall with a time of 59.46.
Junior decathlete Jemal Williams ran his first 400m IH as a Trojan since March 9, 2012 and placed 46th with a time of 56.88, just .05 seconds off his PR of 56.83 set on March 3, 2012 at the Beach Classic.
Faulknor, Cox and senior Oluwakemi Olonade began the field portion of the meet for the Trojans when they competed in the women's long jump. Faulknor placed third with a best jump of 19-10.25/6.05m (+1.5), while Cox finished 13th with a PR of 18-11.75/5.78m (+0.5) and Olonade finished 22nd with a jump of 17-9.75/5.43m (+0.0).
Senior Viktor Fajoyomi was in the men's long jump and he placed third with a jump of 24-1.50/7.35m (+1.0). Slater also competed in the men's long jump and had a best leap of 22-9.75/6.95m (+0.9) to finish 14th.
Junior Alex Collatz and sophomore Tera Novy competed in the women's discus throw Invite, with Collatz finishing second and Novy third. Collatz had a best throw of 179-3/54.64m and Novy a top mark of 168-4/51.31m. Novy fouled in her first two attempts and then nailed a throw of 162-4 to advance to the finals where she landed the throw of 168-4 which is just four inches off her PR.
Senior Remington Conatser finished fourth in the men's hammer Invite with a best throw of 226-8/69.10m. He had that mark in his final attempt which tied for the best mark by a college athlete in the competition, but his second best throw was .04 meters shorter than Michael Lihrman of Wisconsin who by virtue of that mark took third.
Redshirt senior Jeffrey Churchman competed in the men's javelin throw, but did not have a legal throw.
Also, 2014 recruit Deanna Hall placed third in the girls 100m dash finals with a time of 11.74 (+2.2). She reached the finals by running 11.78 (+0.7) in the preliminaries on Thursday.
Tomorrow in the final day of the Florida Relays, USC will have athletes in the men's and womens' triple jumps, the men's high jump, the women's hammer throw and women's hammer throw Invite and the women's shot put. Also, the Trojans will compete in a variety of relays including the 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m and the 1600m sprint medley.