Ozorai & Minderler Earn All-America Honors In Hammer Throw
June 7, 2012
DES MOINES, IA - Jenny Ozorai and Marissa Minderler earned All-America honors in the women's hammer throw and Aaron Brown in the 200m and the men's 4x400m relay which had the eigth-fastest time in USC history advanced to NCAA finals during the second day of action (June 7) at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at historic Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Ia. After two days, USC's women's team has scored seven points and stands in 15th place, while the men's team looks to begin its scoring tomorrow.
The Trojans began the day by gaining two All-Americans in the women's hammer throw as the sophomore Ozorai placed fourth and the redshirt senior Minderler eighth. Redshirt senior Jade Niemeyer placed 21st in the competition.
"It was just a magical year," said USC throws coach Dan Lange who earlier in the week was named the West Region Women's Assistant Coach of the Year. "It couldn't have been more special. To have three girls who took completely different routes to get here and accomplish what they did this year, it will be a long time before it is topped in my group and then to have two finish here as All-Americans. Jenny learned how to compete this season and I thought she did a really good job competing here as did Marissa. The future looks good for Jenny."
Ozorai was in the first flight and she had the third-farthest throw of 213-11 (65.20m) and would have to await the second flight to see where she stood. She entered the finals rounds in fifth place and remained there after her first throw. Ozorai posted her farthest throw of the competition of 216-3 (65.91m) in the fifth round to vault over UCLA's Ida Storm and into fourth place in the competition. Her last throw was 215-0 and she did not improve, but no one could catch her and she ended up in fourth, earning her second consecutive All-America honors in the event and earning the Trojans five points in the team competition. She also was the top finisher among underclassmen in the competition and ranks second on USC's all-time list with a best throw of 223-4 earlier this season.
Minderler's road to All-America status was a little more dicey. She had two fouls and a throw of 204-3 (62.26m) in the first three rounds and escaped to the finals in ninth place, one centemeter ahead of DeAnna Price of Southern Illinois who threw 204-2 (62.25m) in her final attempt. Minderler then took advantage of her opportunity, launching a throw of 208-1 (63.43m) in her first throw of the finals to move into seventh place. She did not improve on her final attempts, but was bumped to eighth on the last throw for Nikola Lomnicka of Georgia and earned the Trojans one point in the team competition. Minderler ends her Trojan throwing career as a two-time Pac-12 Champion in the hammer throw and in USC's all-time top 10 lists in the hammer (3rd, 220-11), javelin (5th, 157-3) and shot put (6th, 50-2.75).
Niemeyer opened with a throw of 185-10 (56.65m) and then fouled. She entered the third round needing a big throw and did have her best mark of the day of 188-8 (57.47m), but that did not advance her to the final rounds. Niemeyer placed fifth in the hammer throw at the Pac-12 Championships and improved 29 feet this season, setting a PR of 208-0 at the NCAA Regional to move into sixth place on USC's all-time list.
USC began the day on the track with freshman Davonte Stewart and the sophomore Brown in the men's 200m semifinals. The top two from each heat plus the next two fastest times would advance to Saturday's finals. Stewart was in the first heat and after a restart, he placed sixth with a time of 20.95. His time was good for 19th in the competition and was the third-fastest by a freshman in the field as only one reached the finals. Brown ran in the third heat and he posted a wind-aided PR of 20.44 to place third and the fastest of the non-automatic qualifiers to advance to the finals. His time was also the third-fastest qualifying time.
Senior Aareon Payne was next in the second heat of the women's 200m dash and before she even ran, the two best non-automatic qualifying times were 22.70 and 22.76 meaning that she would likely need to PR to advance to the finals topping her best of 22.83 set last season. She did run a season-best time of 23.15, but placed fifth in her heat and 13th overall. Payne will compete as part of USC's 4x100m relay team which will run in the finals on Saturday. Payne and the 4x100m relay team placed third at the NCAAs last season with the fourth-fastest time in school history of 43.42. Payne also ranks fifth on USC's all-time 200m list with her time of 22.83.
Sophomore Lauren Blackburn was the final female on the track for the Trojans when she ran in the third heat of the 100m hurdles. Blackburn had a time of 13.52 to place eighth in her heat and 23rd overall. She would have needed to PR to advance to the finals as the final runner to qualify posted a time of 13.05, .01 seconds faster that Blackburn's USC freshman record set last season.
The final event on the day for USC was the men's 4x400m semifinals and the Trojans elected to run a team of senior Joey Hughes, redshirt senior Bryshon Nellum, senior Duane Walker and junior Reggie Wyatt. USC chose to rest 400m finalist Josh Mance who will be running in tomorrow's open 400m finals. Hughes gave the Trojans a slight lead after the first lap and Nellum built it up some on the second leg. Walker then held the field back and gave Wyatt the baton in first. It became a two-team race with Florida and their exceptional 400m runner Tony McQuay who has the fastest open 400m time this season by a collegian passed Wyatt with about 200m to go and held him off down the stretch with USC finishing second and automatically advance to Saturday's final with a time of 3:03.21 to Florida's 3:02.24. The unoffical splits were 44.7 for Hughes, 45.5 for Nellum, 46.5 for Walker and 46.5 for Wyatt. USC's time of 3:03.21 was the eighth-fastest in school history and the eighth-fastest of the qualifiers.