USC Men Win NCAA West Regional; Women 3rd
May 30, 2009
EUGENE, ORE. - The USC men's track and field team came from behind to win the team championship and the women's team placed third as 13 more individuals and four relay teams earned a berth at the NCAA Championships today (May 30) at the 2009 NCAA West Regional being hosted by Oregon at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. before 7,096 fans. To qualify for the NCAA Championships on June 10-13 in Fayetteville, Ark., athletes have to finish in the top five (top 3 in relays) in each of the four NCAA Regionals or be in a group of 5-8 other athletes chosen from a pool of the next best seven finishers in each event at the regionals.
The men's team came from fourth place entering the final day to score 80 points and finish with 97 points, 16.25 more points than host Oregon. The women's team entered the final day in seventh place, but surged to third with a total of 68 points, behind only Arizona State (95) and Oregon (80.5). USC's men's and women's teams combined to score 165 points, more than any other school at the regional. Winning individual event titles for USC were junior Ahmad Rashad in the men's 100m dash, junior Shalina Clarke in the women's 100m HH and the men's 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.
"Anytime you can beat Oregon at Oregon, that's an accomplishment," said USC Director of Track and Field Ron Allice. "I thought our young people performed extremely well and we look forward to trying to be our best at the National Championships."
The men's team officially clinched the team title when the 4x400m relay team of junior Jason Price, junior Nate Anderson, freshman Joey Hughes and freshman Duane Walker cruised to victory with a season-best time of 3:06.09. The jubilation quickly turned to concern as Walker crashed to the track just past the finish line and suffered a left shoulder injury. He was taken to a local hospital to be examined and X-rays came back negative. The Trojans gained 10 points in the event to take the lead at 90-80.75.
The men's hammer competition ended next, but no Trojans or Ducks scored points. Sophomore Trey Henderson placed 10th with a throw of 201-5 (61.39), redshirt senior Brian Wilhelm placed 11th with a PR of 200-9 (61.20m) and redshirt senior Mike Curiel placed 27th with a throw of 185-10 (56.64m).
The last event to finish was the men's pole vault and USC outscored Oregon 7-0 in the event to lead to the final winning total. Redshirt juniors Brandon Estrada and Derek Scott both set PRs in the event with Estrada taking fourth place and earning five points with a clearance of 17-7 (5.36m). Estrada's mark moves him into 10th place on USC's all-time list and he became the first Trojan to crack the top 10 since Jeff Ryan in 2003. Scott placed seventh good for two points in the team competition with a PR of 17-3 (5.26m). Estrada's impressive day automatically qualified him for the NCAA Championships.
The first Trojans to compete on the day were redshirt juniors Aaron Dan and Colin Campbell in the men's discus. Dan advanced to the finals and placed sixth with a season-best throw of 189-2 (57.67m) and will now have to await the at-large selections. Campbell had three fouls to eliminate him from the competition. Dan earned three points for USC.
Beginning action on the track for the Trojans was the women's 4x100m relay team of freshman Erica Alexander, Clarke, junior Judith Onyepunuka and freshman Aareon Payne. The Trojan quartet had a time of 44.81 and looked like they finished fourth with the top three teams getting automatic berths in the NCAA Championships, but it was determined that Oregon ran out of the zone and USC was bumped up to third and on to Arkansas.
The men's 4x100m relay team of junior Desmond Hamilton, Rashad, Hughes and senior Matthew Palmer then left no doubt they would be advancing by racing to victory with a time of 39.89. They earned 10 points in the team competition.
Clarke then came back to punch her ticket to the NCAAs in the 100m high hurdles with a winning wind-aided (3.7) time of 13.16. It was Clarke's second consecutive West Regional title in the event. Clarke earned the USC women 10 points in the team competition.
Sophomore Oscar Spurlock showed his grit next in the men's 110m HH. He was nursing a sore hamstring and just needed to finish the race to qualify for the NCAA Championships as he already owned the fifth-best collegiate time, but he gutted it out to take second with a wind-aided (3.4) time of 13.54, .01 seconds behind the winner and good for eight team points.
Rashad then set a new West Regional record and tied his PR in winning the men's 100m dash with a time of 10.13. He also ran 10.13 two weeks ago in winning the Pac-10 Championship right here on the same track. "Rocket" Rashad's efforts earned USC 10 more points.
USC's two 400m runners Hughes and Anderson both advanced to the NCAAs by placing second and third respectively. Hughes took second with a time of 46.06, while Anderson captured third with a season-best of 46.66. Together they earned USC 14 points in the team totals.
Sophomore Frida Flodstrom had qualified for the finals of the women's 800m despite pain in her foot, but after yesterday's race was diagnosed with a stress fracture on the top of her right foot and had to be scratched from the finals.
The men's 800m race featuring senior Irek Sekretarski and freshman Blake Shaw was next. Both Trojans finished in the top five to assure a trip to the NCAAs, with Sekretarski taking second with a time of 1:49.88 and Shaw placing fourth with a time of 1:50.24. USC gained 13 more points for their efforts.
Freshman Dalilah Muhammad then hurdled into the NCAA Championships by placing second in the 400m IH with a time of 57.44. Then Payne, another freshman, also placed second in the women's 200m dash with a legal PR of 23.47 to join her with a trip to Arkansas. Together the freshmen gained 16 points for the USC women's team.
Junior Aven Wright then took fourth in the men's triple jump with a wind-aided mark (4.1) of 50-10 (15.49m). He went from seventh to fourth in his final attempt of the event. Wright's final jump assured him a berth at the NCAAs and earned five points in the team competiton. Redshirt junior Majula Wijesekara, who won the West Region high jump title yesterday, withdrew from the event due to a sore ankle and to focus on the high jump at the NCAA Championships.
Sophomore Kristine Busa placed second in the women's javelin with a throw of 167-1 (50.94m) to advance to the NCAA Championships and earn the Trojans eight points. Redshirt freshman Marissa Minderler had a best throw today of 137-11 (42.05m) to place 16th.
Sophomore Zsofia Erdelyi had her second consecutive second-place finish in the women's 3000m steeplechase, this time breaking her school record with a PR of 10:01.99. She earned eight points for USC and will move on the the NCAA Championships where she placed ninth as a freshman.
The final women's event was the 4x400m relay and USC's team of junior Elizabeth Olear, Clarke, Muhammad and junior Myra Hasson placed second with a season-best time of 3:34.22, good for 10th place on USC's all-time list. They scored USC's final eight points and advance to the NCAA Championships.
A recap of Trojans automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships to be held in Fayetteville, Ark. from June 10-13 are: Nia Ali (heptathlon), Nate Anderson (400m), Kristine Busa (javelin), Shalina Clarke (100m HH), Zsofia Erdelyi (3000m SC), Brandon Estrada (pole vault), Joey Hughes (400m), Dalilah Muhammad (400m IH), Eva Orban (hammer), Aareon Payne (200m), Ahmad Rashad (100m), Irek Sekretarski (800m), Blake Shaw (800m), Oscar Spurlock (110m HH), Corey White (javelin), Manjula Wijesekara (high jump), Aven Wright (triple jump) and both the men's and women's 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.
Final team standings:
Women's Top 10: 1.) Arizona State 95, 2.) Oregon 80.5, 3.) USC 68, 4.) UCLA 64.5, 5.) Stanford 54, 6.) BYU 49, 7.) California 42, 8.) Washington 38, 9.) San Diego State 36, 10.) Arizona 33
Men's Top 10:
1.) USC 97, 2.) Oregon 80.75, 3.) Washington State 66, 4.) Arizona State 62, 5.) Stanford 52, 6.) Arizona 47, 7.) UCLA 46.25, 8.) Washington 43.5, 9.) Brigham Young 34, 10.) Boise State 33