Track & Field
    USC Advances 16 Athletes To NCAA T&F Championships

    Nick Ponzio broke the USC freshman record in the shot put set by eventual Olympic champion Dallas Long in 1959. Ponzio had a mark of 63-8.75 to place 5th at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds and onto the NCAA Championships.
    May 29, 2015

    Day 2 Results Get Acrobat Reader

    AUSTIN, TEXAS - USC advanced 16 athletes to the NCAA Championships, including Nick Ponzio who set the USC freshman shot put record, and 10 more athletes advanced to event quarterfinals during the second day of action at the 2015 NCAA West Preliminary Rounds hosted by Texas at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas today (May 29). The 2015 NCAA Track & Field Championships will be held in Eugene, Ore. from June 10-13.

    In all of the field events today an athlete had to finish in the top 12 to advance to nationals and in the running quarterfinals, the athlete had to finish in the top three of its heat or have one of the next three fastest times. In the running prelim events (men's and women's high hurdles and men's and women's 200m dash), the athlete would have to finish in the top three of its heat or have one of the six next fastest times.

    Junior Tera Novy got things started for the Trojans on the day by taking the lead in the women's discus throw with her first toss of 183-9 (56.01m) in the third and final flight of the women's discus competition. Senior Alexandra Collatz followed with a throw of 180-11 (55.15m) to move into fourth with two rounds to go. Neither improved in their second attempts, but both did in their final throws. Novy's final attempt went for 185-4 (56.49m) to finish fourth and Collatz' final mark was 181-11 (55.44m) to finish fifth and secure a spot at nationals.

    Senior Conor McCullough wasn't messing around in the men's hammer throw, all but assuring his trip to the NCAA Championships in his first attempt. After the first two flights of throwers, the top mark was 210-2 and McCullough opened the final flight with a mark of 242-1.25 (73.79m) to take the lead. Since only three other throwers in the country even had a throw of 230-feet leading up to the Preliminary Rounds, it was safe to say he was safely on after his first throw. He then improved in his second throw to 246-1 (75.01m) and threw 244-3 (74.45m) in his third attempt. McCullough won the event by over 10 feet and is on to the NCAA Championships.

    The first running event was the women's 100m HH and USC freshman Dior Hall and senior Melia Cox were in the sixth and final heat. The pair left no doubt as Hall won with a time of 13.01 (+3.1w) and Cox took second with a wind-aided PR of 13.17 (+3.1w) to automatically advance to tomorrow's quarterfinals. The pair finished with the third and seventh fastest times among the qualifiers.

    Freshman Marquis Morris was next in the men's 110m HH and took third in his heat with a PR of 13.79 (+1.9) to automatically advance to tomorrow's quarterfinals. Morris finished 13th among the qualifiers today. His time also broke the USC freshman record of 13.83 set by Robert Reading in 1986. Senior D.J. Morgan did not competed due to injury.

    The women's 400m quarterfinals was next and senior Vanessa Jones took second in her heat with a time of 52.27 to automatically advance to the NCAA Championships. She had the seventh-fastest qualifying time. Freshman Kendall Ellis will join her as she ran a PR of 52.58 to take fourth in her heat and 10th overall. Ellis bettered her USC freshman record in the event and moved from eighth to seventh on the Trojans' all-time list. Senior Akawkaw Ncha-Ndip had a time of 54.32 to finish 21st and sophomore Cameron Pettigrew had a time of 54.61 to finish 23rd.

    Freshman Ricky Morgan was in the first heat of the men's 400m race and removed all the drama by taking third with a time of 46.51, matching his PR set yesterday. By finishing third in his heat, Morgan automatically advances to the NCAA Championships. Morgan had the ninth-fastest time among the qualifiers.

    USC then qualified four women to the NCAA Championships in the 100m dash. Junior Alexis Faulknor took second in the second heat and seventh overall with a time of 11.31 (+1.8) to automatically advance. Freshman Ky Westbrook matched her PR of 11.33 to take fourth in the heat, but ended up with the top next best time and 10th overall to advance. Redshirt junior Tynia Gaither was third in the final heat and eighth overall with a time of 11.32 (+2.5w) to also automatically advance. Freshman Deanna Hill had a wind-aided PR of 11.37 (+2.5w) to finish fourth in the heat and grab the final non-automatic qualifying spot. Sophomore Destinee Brown finished eighth in the first heat and 24th overall with a time of 11.61 (+3.7w).

    Senior BeeJay Lee and junior Andre De Grasse then automatically advanced to the NCAA Championships by taking third in their men's 100m heats. Lee had a time of 10.10 (+2.5w) in the second heat and De Grasse a time of 10.03 (+3.1w) in the third heat. Lee had the eighth-fastest and De Grasse the fourth-fastest qualifying times.

    Freshman Robert Ford also automatically advanced to the NCAA Championships in the 800m race by taking second in the first heat with a PR of 1:48.12. Ford's time ended up being the fourth-fastest among the qualifiers.

    Redshirt freshman Nick Ponzio had a strong series in the men's shot put and advanced to the NCAA Championships by taking fifth today with a best mark of 63-8.75 (19.42m). That throw came in his second attempt and moved him from eighth to sixth on USC's all-time list in the event. It also established a USC freshman record, besting the old mark of 63-7 set by Dallas Long in 1959. Ponzio opened with a mark of 61-5.50 and finished with a throw of 62-3.75.

    Sophomore Amalie Iuel and junior Jaide Stepter then won their 400m IH quarterfinal heats to automatically advance to the NCAAs in the event. Iuel had a time of 57.33 to finish third overall and Stepter had a time of 56.76 to finish second overall.

    The women's 200m prelims were next and the Trojans qualified four athletes for tomorrow's quarterfinals. Westbrook was up first in the second heat and placed third with a wind-aided PR of 23.12 (+2.9w) to automatically advance. She finished ninth among the qualifiers. Freshman Gabriella Cantrell was fourth in the fourth heat with a time of 23.77 (+2.0) and advanced as the final non-automatic qualifier and 24th overall. Brown was fifth in the heat and 26th overall with a time of 23.80 (+2.0). Gaither won the fifth heat and was fifth overall with a time of 22.98 (+1.4). Hill was second in that heat and 10th overall to automatically advance with a time of 23.15.

    The three Trojan men in 200m meter prelims all automatically advanced to tomorrow's quarterfinals. First, Lee won the first heat with a time of 20.31 (+2.0), then De Grasse won the fourth heat with a time of 20.52 (+1.3). Finally, junior Just'N Thymes took second in the sixth heat with a time of 20.88 (+2.1w). Lee was third, De Grasse fourth and Thymes 15th among the qualifiers.

    The final event for the Trojans on the day was the women's 3000m steeplechase. Senior Kira Soderstrom was in the first heat and placed 14th and finished 43rd overall with a time of 10:59.00.

    Along with the 10 athletes who qualified today for quarterfinals tomorrow, the men's and women's triple jump, women's shot put, men's and women's 4x100m relay and women's 4x400m relay will take place tomorrow on the final day of the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds.