McCullough, Faulknor & Jackson Win Pac-12 Titles|
May 16, 2015
Conor McCullough won the men's hammer throw, Alexis Faulknor the women's long jump and Adoree' Jackson the men's long jump title and 35 Trojans advanced to event finals tomorrow at the 2015 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships hosted by UCLA in Westwood, Calif. today (May 16). After 15 completed events (8 men's and 7 women's) the USC men's team stands in sixth place with 26 points and the women's team is fifth with 22 points (6 from Amalie Iuel in the heptathlon last weekend) with 13 men's finals and 14 women's finals to be contested tomorrow.
With McCullough competing in the first event of the meet, you expected it to be a good start for the Trojans and he didn't disappoint. The redshirt senior McCullough won the Pac-12 hammer throw title with a best throw of 236-10 (72.20m) in the fourth round. McCullough actually had the six best throws in the competition, throwing 226-2, 227-0, 232-11, then his winning throw of 236-10, 231-1 and 235-2. McCullough made it three consecutive wins in the event for USC and five of the last six seasons. It is also the 13th hammer throw title for USC, more than any conference school. McCullough's winning throw was the farthest at the Pac-12 Championshps since USC's Balazs Kiss won with a throw of 254-1 in 1996. Redshirt freshman David Sellens fouled in all three attempts and tied for 12th. McCullough scored the Trojans first 10 points of the meet.
"This feels great," said McCullough. "This is one of the best conference in the U.S. It is great to be part of the whole meet and do well."
Faulknor won the women's long jump title with a best leap of 21-0.75/6.42m (+3.7w). The junior took the long jump lead in her fifth attempt with a season-best wind-legal jump of 20-9.25 /6.33m (-2.3) which moved her into seventh place on USC's all-time list and then clinched it with her final jump of 21-0.75. She became the third Trojan woman to win the event and first since Michelle Sanford won in 2004. Freshman Madisen Richards took sixth in the event with a best jump of 19-10.25/6.05m (+0.5) in her fifth attempt. Faulknor picked up 10 points and Richards three for the women's team.
"Last year at this competition I came in third, so for me to win and be the Pac-12 champion and jump a season best, I'm really happy," said Faulknor. "I'll just be running (tomorrow) and I'll have a run in before I do the 100m because the 4x100m is before the 100m, so I feel like I'll be really prepared. And with the 200m, I'm just going to run. Run for the team, whatever happens, I'm in the finals, so hey, I'm scoring points."
Never one to be outdone, the freshman Jackson won the men's long jump title in an even closer fashion. Jackson took the long jump lead in his third attempt with a season-best jump of 25-3.50/7.71m (-0.6). He did not improve in his final three attempts, but did register back-to-back jumps of 25-1.75/7.66m in his fourth and fifth attempts which would prove important. Oregon's Nate Moore matched Jackson's 25-3.50 jump in his final attempt, but since Jackson had the next farthest jump he won the competition on the tie-breaker. Just 2.25 inches separated the top three jumpers. It was the 13th men's Pac-12 long jump title by a Trojan and the first since Brendan Ames won in 2011. Jackson's efforts earned the Trojans 10 points in the team competition. Freshman Dominic Smallwood finished 10th with a season best wind-aided jump of 23-5.25/7.14m (+2.1w), redshirt junior Jovonte Slater took 13th with a best jump of 22-9.25/6.94m (+1.9) and senior Jabre Millon placed 17th with a best leap of 21-7.25/6.58m (+0.1).
The first throwing event of the day for the Trojan women was the shot put and junior Tera Novy placed sixth with a best mark of 50-2.75 (15.31m). That throw was a PR for Novy and moved her from seventh to tied for sixth on USC's all-time list, tying Marissa Minderler. Sophomore Tanya Sapa had fouls in all three attempts. Novy earned the USC women's team three points.
Redshirt freshman Nick Ponzio took third in the men's shot put with a mark of 63-1.25 (19.23m). He battled all day with Braheme Days of UCLA for the second spot, taking the lead in the second round with a mark of 62-6 (19.05m), then improved to 62-6.75 (19.07) in his third attempt. Days threw 62-7.75 (19.09m) in his fourth attempt to re-take second and Ponzio responded with a mark of 63-0.75 (19.21m) in his fourth attempt. Days took the lead back for good with a mark of 63-6.00 (19.35m) on his fifth throw and although Ponzio had his best mark in the fifth round it was not enough. Ponzio earned USC six points in the team competition.
The running portion of the meet for USC began with the women's 1500m races. Senior Erica Capellino was in the first heat and needed to be in the top three or have one of the next three best times in the three heats. Capellino had a time of 4:35.15 to take eighth in the first heat and finish 27th overall. Junior Katerina Berdousi took eighth in the second heat with a college PR of 4:30.43 to finish 21st overall.
Up next was the women's 100m HH and all three Trojans advanced to tomorrow's finals. Freshman Dior Hall won the first heat and was first overall with a time of 13.14 (+1.0), while sophomore Amalie Iuel was fourth in the heat and eighth overall with a time of 13.99 (+1.0). Senior Melia Cox took second in the second heat and was third overall with a time of 13.44 (+0.1).
The men's 110m HH were next and redshirt senior D.J. Morgan won the first heat and was first overall with a time of 13.96 (+0.0) to advance to tomorrow's finals. Freshman Marquis Morris was third in the second heat and fifth overall with a time of 14.08 (+0.0) to also advance to the finals. Senior Allen Williams was sixth in the second heat and finished 12th overall with a time of 14.76 (+0.0).
USC's women had an impressive showing in the 400m prelims as all four Trojans advanced to tomorrow's finals, led by senior Vanessa Jones who had the best time with a PR of 51.92. That time moved her from fourth to third on USC's all-time list. Freshman Kendall Ellis won the first heat and was third overall (53.15), sophomore Cameron Pettigrew was second in the first heat and fifth overall with a big PR (53.38) and senior Akawkaw Ncha-Ndip was sixth (53.54).
Both freshman Ricky Morgan and senior Davonte Stewart advanced to tomorrow's men's 400m final, finishing fifth and eighth overall. Morgan was third in the second heat with a time of 47.17 and Stewart was fourth in the first heat with a time of 47.36.
The Trojan sprinters were then about to flex their muscles. First the women's team gained six entrants into tomorrow's finals. Freshman Ky Westbrook won the second heat and was second overall with a season-best legal time of 11.34 (+1.4). Redshirt junior Tynia Gaither was second in the first heat and third overall with a time of 11.40 (11.392/+0.6), Faulknor was second in the second heat and fourth overall with a time of 11.40 (11.396/(+1.4), freshman Deanna Hill won the third heat and was fifth overall with a time of 11.55 (-2.1), sophomore Destinee Brown was second in the third heat and sixth overall with a time of 11.64 (-2.1) and freshman Gabriella Cantrell was fourth in the first heat and ninth overall with a time of 11.71 (+0.6). Also running for USC was Richards who was ninth in the first heat and 23rd overall with a time of 12.14 (+0.6).
The men's 100m dash was next and USC advanced three Trojans to tomorrow's finals. Junior Andre De Grasse won the second heat and was first overall with a wind-aided time of 10.12 (+2.2w), senior BeeJay Lee won the first heat and was second overall with a time of 10.37 (+0.7) and Jackson was third in the second heat and sixth overall with a wind-aided time of 10.53 (+2.2w). They all advance to the finals. Junior Just'N Thymes was third in the first heat and was 10th overall with a time of 10.59 (+0.7), senior Bryan Mercado was fourth in the third heat and 11th overall with a time of 10.60 (+2.7w) and Slater was seventh in the first heat and 19th overall with a time of 10.81 (+0.7).
The women's 800m runners were next on the track and junior Natasha Strickland had a PR of 2:13.25 to finish 14th, freshman Emma Kao had a PR of 2:13.92 to take 15th and junior Reika Kijima had a time of 2:14.25 to finish 16th.
Freshman Robert Ford advanced to tomorrow's men's 800m final by running 1:50.60 to place third in the second heat and eighth overall. Senior Myles Andrews took ninth in the second heat and 18th overall with a time of 1:53.02.
Sophomore Amalie Iuel and junior Jaide Stepter cruised into tomorrow's 400m IH finals as they both won their heats. Iuel was first and had the fastest time of the day of 56.43 and Stepter followed to take the second and final heat with a time of 57.35 which was third on the day.
Morris was the only Trojan male in the 400m IH race and he finished in the dreaded 10th position, one out of advancing to the finals. Morris had a time of 53.82 to place fourth in the second heat and 10th overall.
Senior Diego Lopez and redshirt junior Conner Sullivan competed in the men's javelin throw and placed 13th and 15th respectively. Lopez had a PR of 181-0 (55.16m) in his final throw and Sullivan had a best mark of 173-11 (53.07m).
It might be hard to believe, but the women's team did even better in the 200m dash than in the 100m race as all seven Trojans advanced to tomorrow's final. Gaither won the second heat and was second overall with a time of 23.15 (+0.2), Faulknor was second in the first heat and third overall with a time of 23.33 (+1.9), Westbrook won the third heat and was fourth overall with a time of 23.45 (-1.4), Hill won the fourth heat and was fifth overall with a time of 23.46 (-0.6), Jones was second in the fourth heat and sixth overall with a time of 23.55 (-0.6), Brown was third in the first heat and seventh overall with a time of 23.63 (+1.9) and Cantrell was second in the third heat and eighth overall with a time of 23.74 (-1.4).
The men did not have as many runners in the 200m dash, but they made sure it too was spectacular. De Grasse won the first heat and finished first overall with a PR of 20.03 (-0.1). That time set the Canadian record, ties him for second on USC's all-time list with Clancy Edwards (1978) and is the second-fastest legal time in the world this season as Dedrick Dukes of Florida ran 19.99 (+0.6) today at the SEC Championships. Lee won the second heat and was second overall with a time of 20.69 (+0.1) and Thymes was second in the second heat and third overall with a time of 20.97 (+0.1). Mercado placed eighth in the second heat and 15th overall with a time of 21.77 (+0.1).
There were only nine teams entered in both the men's and women's 4x100m relays, so they will be run tomorrow as a final.
The Pac-12 Track & Field Championships will conclude tomorrow with 27 finals taking place (14 women's finals, 13 men's finals)