USC's Ozorai Places 4th In Hammer Throw At NCAAs
June 5, 2013
EUGENE, ORE. - USC's Jenny Ozorai placed fourth in the women's hammer throw, Alitta Boyd took 11th in the women's long jump and three individuals and a relay team advanced to NCAA finals during the first day of the 2013 NCAA Track & Field Championships hosted by Oregon at historic Hayward Field today (June 5). In all of the running semifinals today, an athlete needed to finish in the top two of his or her heat or have one of the next best two times to advance to the NCAA finals in the event.
The junior Ozorai got things started on a good note for the Trojans at the NCAA Championships by taking fourth in the women's hammer throw for the second consecutive season. Ozorai saved her best throw for last, a mark of 217-6 (66.29m), to leap-frog over UCLA's Ida Storm who had stood in fourth with a throw of 214-5. Ozorai made it through to the finals in fifth place by virtue of her first throw of 211-1 (64.34m). She briefly dropped into sixth place before her fifth-round throw as Brittany Funk of Akron, who threw just before her, landed a throw of 211-8. Ozorai responded with an improvement to 212-9 (64.86m) to reclaim fifth and set up her final-round throw. Ozorai scored five points for USC in the team competition and has earned first-team All-America honors in the hammer for the third time in three attempts. Ozorai is just the second Trojan to to earn three All-America honors in the the women's hammer throw and can match Eva Orban's record of four first-team All-America honors in the event next season. The Trojan hammer throwers under the tutelage of Dan Lange have now registered a top four finish in the women's hammer throw six times in the last eight seasons and nine times in the last 18 seasons.
"I felt good because it wasn't an easy competition and I finished strong," said Ozorai. "I'm happy with the result becasue it's better than last year. I'm looking forward to my senior year and I think we will be better than this year. Coach (Lange) is amazing and we've worked even better together every year, so I think next year will be really good."
Just as Ozorai finished her final throw, the USC women's 4x100m relay team of junior Loudia Laarman, junior Jessica Davis, junior Jenna Puterbaugh and sophomore Vanessa Jones began circling the track in heat one. The Trojan quartet took third with a time of 44.57, just edging TCU (44.62) which turned out to be very important. Following the second heat the Trojans had moved down to the eighth and final qualifying spot, but would have to wait for the results of the final heat. As it turned out, the third-place team finished with a time of 44.85 and the Trojans advanced to Saturday's final. USC's 4x100m relay finished seventh in 2012 and third in 2011. Women's sprints coach Tina Fernandes called Puterbaugh's third leg "amazing" and that Jones got the baton about even in third and made sure USC would be moving on.
The women's team was actually done for the day by the time the men's team began action. Senior Alitta Boyd competed in the women's long jump and had a best jump of 20-6.50 to finish 11th. Her first jump was 19-5.25 (5.92m) to put her in seventh after the first round. Boyd then matched her legal PR with a wind-aided mark of 20-6.50 (6.26m) to move into fourth place in the first flight. By the time she took her third jump Boyd was in seventh place of the first flight. She had a jump fo 20-3.00 (6.17m) and remained in seventh, awaiting the results of the second flight of 12 jumpers. As it would turn out, she just missed by two spots of reaching the finals. Boyd, however, did earn second-team All-America honors by placing 11th and will be in action in her specialty event the women's triple jump on Friday.
Senior Bryshon Nellum advanced to Friday's men's 400m finals by winning the third heat with a time of 45.42. His time turned out to be the fourth-fastest of the qualifiers. His last race on the Hayward Field track was when he ran a then-PR of 44.80 to take third place at the U.S. Olympic Trials and make the Olympic team. He went on to earn a silver medal as part of the 4x400m relay team and to place ninth in the open 400m at the London Games.
"It was a tough one," said Nellum. "The first one's always the hardest one, you've got to get it out of your system.This was one of my goals and the reason I came back...for NCAA's. Making the finals is one more step toward my goals. Last year I didn't make the finals, I'm here now and it feels good. I won't see the 400m for two days, so tomorrow I've got to focus on the 200m and get it done."
Junior Aaron Brown also moved on to Friday's finals in the men's 100m dash by taking second in the first heat with a PR of 10.05. His time moved him into sole possession of third place on USC's all-time list in the event. He had been tied for third with current teammate BeeJay Lee and Clancy Edwards at 10.07. The winner of his heat was Dentarius Locke of Florida State who ran the eighth-fastest legal 100m all-time by a collegiate runner of 9.97. Charles Silmon of TCU used a wind of +3.0 to run 9.92 in the third heat. Brown's time was the fourth-fastest of the qualifiers.
"It feels great. My first two years I missed the finals so my goal was just to make it in this year," said Brown. "I definitely have more in me. I feel like the last 30m I kind of got caught up looking around a bit to see where I was and Locke accelerated past me. So if I can focus and have tunnel vision, hopefully I can run something faster and place well. I'm going to get into 200 mode now, go ice bath, jog down, do what I need to do to prepare. It's a war so I'm getting ready for battle."
Senior Reggie Wyatt was also impressive in moving on to Friday's finals in the men's 400m IH. He won the third heat with a time of 49.23, the fastest of the qualifiers.
"First race jitters, just trying to get to the finals," said Wyatt. I made sure that I got there and did whatever was necessary to get there."
Scheduled to compete for USC's women's team tomorrow with be Lauren Blackburn (100m HH), Alexandra Collatz (discus), Melia Cox (100m HH), Vanessa Jones (4x400m), Ashley Liverpool (4x400m), Akawkaw Ndipagbor (200m, 4x400m) and Jenna Puterbaugh (4x400m). Trojan men set to see action are Aaron Brown (200m), Remington Conatser (hammer), Aleec Harris (110m HH), Bryshon Nellum (200m).