Track & Field
    Conatser Takes Second In Hammer, Collatz Fifth In Discus At NCAA Championships

    Sophomore Alexandra Collatz takes fifth in the discus throw at the 2013 NCAA Championships, the highest ever finish by a USC female in the event.

    June 6, 2013

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    EUGENE, ORE. - USC's Remington Conatser placed second in the men's hammer throw, Alexandra Collatz took fifth in the women's discus throw and Aaron Brown and Bryshon Nellum advanced to the 200m finals on Saturday during the second day of the 2013 NCAA Track & Field Championships hosted by Oregon at historic Hayward Field today (June 6). After six of 21 scored events in the men's competition, USC is tied for seventh place with eight points. In the women's competition, after five events, USC has nine points and are also tied for seventh place.

    The hammer throw again got the day off with a bang for USC as junior Remington Conatser placed second in the men's hammer throw with a PR of 224-1 (68.30m) and earned USC its first eight points in the men's competition. Conatser improved his eighth-place standing on USC's all-time list in the event. It is the highest finish by a USC male in the hammer throw since Norbert Horvath also placed second in 1999. Since 1993 under the guidance USC throws coach Dan Lange, a USC male has earned first-team All-America honors 17 times and a top-five finish 14 times.

    Conatser's first throw was 208-6 (63.56m) which put him in ninth place which would have been the final spot to advance to the finals. In his second throw, Conatser vaulted into second-place temporarily with a mark of 218-6 (66.60m) and third overall by the end of the second round of the second flight. He fouled his third-round throw and advanced to the finals in third place. With two of the top throwers in the country still behind him including collegiate-leader Nick Miller of Oklahoma State, there was still more work to be done. One of those throwers was Jeremy Postin of Florida and with his fourth-round throw of 224-0 (68.29m) he vaulted Conatser and Greg Skipper of Oregon who was in second. Conatser coolly answered with his best throw of the day of 224-1 to edge into second place where he would remain. His final two attempts were strong throws of 220-5 and 217-7.

    "It's really nice. I did not think I would come here and do that," said Conatser. " You know it was a little bit nerve-wracking (being neck and neck with Postin) but ultimately that's what will get your adrenaline going and that's what makes you throw further in the end. All I can hope is that I can keep improving with the help of my coach. He's amazing and we've made huge strides this year. I'm just excited for next year and maybe a redshirt year after that."

    Just as Conatser advanced to the finals in the men's hammer throw, the sophomore Collatz began her quest for first-team All-America honors in the women's discus throw. She opened with a mark of 170-7 (52.99m) to move into 14th place. Collatz then unleashed a monster throw of 181-11 (55.46m) to set a PR, increase her second-place standing on USC's all-time list and move into second place temporarily. By the time the second round was over she stood in fourth place. Her third throw was good for 173-1 (52.77m) and she entered the finals in fifth place where she would remain to earn USC four points in the team competition. Collatz fouled in her fourth throw, and had a mark of 164-9 in the fifth round and 171-0 in the final round. Collatz' fifth-place finish is the highest ever by a Trojan female in the discus throw at the NCAA Championships and she becomes the first USC woman to score in the event since Allison Franke placed seventh in 1992. The only other USC female to score at the NCAAs was Cindy Johnson who took seventh in 1983. USC record-holder Kate Hutchinson, who Collatz is now just seven and a half feet behind on the Trojans' all-time list, never scored at the NCAAs.

    Sophomore Akawkaw Ndipagbor began the track portion of the meet for USC when she ran in the first heat of the women's 200m dash. Ndipagbor placed seventh in her heat with a wind-aided season-best itme of 23.46 and would end up in 18th place. That finish earns her honorable mention All-America status.

    A blazing first heat in the men's 200m with a +4.3 wind put the pressure on the Trojans before they even ran with the second-fastest non-automatic qualifying time for the finals being 20.41, meaning Brown would have to PR and Nellum pretty much match his fastest time ever. Nellum took care of business in the second heat by winning with an amazing wind-aided PR of 19.99 (+3.2w) to automatically advance. That time would be the fastest qualifier on the day. After Nellum's race, 20.35 was the time to beat unless you automatically qualified. Brown then also automatically qualified for Saturday's final by taking second in the final heat with a wind-aided PR of 20.26 (+3.1w). Brown's legal-best time in the event entering today was 20.42.

    "This is what we've been expecting," said Nellum who also qualified for the 400m final yesterday. "The main thing is that I've been staying healthy, I've been able to stay healthy all year. When you're healthy and you work hard, the only thing that can come out of that is success. Everything is going as planned. It feels good. I still have a lot left in the tank. My goal was to win my race, my heat and bringing that time to 19 is a great feeling. Now this race is equal to the 400 for me. There are a lot of great other competitors. It was unfortunate because I was looking for him (Mike Berry) to be in the finals. Me and him have been battling throughout our seasons. At regionals I was running just to qualify. Here, it's all out, it's go hard or go home. I knew I had that time in me but it was just a matter of when I was going to bring it out. I feel great today. The 400 opened me up. We'd been sitting for three days and traveling, I knew the first round I was going to feel it. Now I've put everything together. Now it's time to go."

    "It feels great. Mission complete," added Brown who also qualified for the 100m final yesterday. "What I wanted to do coming into this meet was score as many points as I could and that meant getting into both finals. I did that and now I'm just trying to see how many points I can get, the best place I can finish. After I saw Bryshon run 19 I thought, okay, I gotta do something, so 20.2, I'm happy with that. We all are just pushing each other. Me and Bryshon give each other words of encouragement. We talk strategy. It's been really good. It's kind of like having a pro environment having such fast people surrounding me. It's great because he has the 400 background so he has a lot more strength and I have more speed. We learn from each other. We've been feeding off each other's strengths and pushing each other to get better."

    The women's 100m HH was next for USC, featuring junior Lauren Blackburn and sophomore Melia Cox in the third and final heat. After the first two heats, it would take a time of 13.08 to reach the finals. Blackburn, who has a time of 13.06 as a freshman, took seventh with a time of 13.46 and Cox took eighth with a time of 13.57. Both athletes by virtue of finishing from 17-24 at the NCAAs will earn honorable mention All-America honors. To make matters even worse for USC, Briana Rollins of Clemson won the third heat with a time of 12.47 which eclipsed Trojan Virginia Crawford's (Powell) former NCAA record in the event of 12.48 set in 2006 at the NCAA Championships.

    It is almost impossible to have a perfect meet and the USC men's teams first slight setback was when the No. 9 ranked hurdler Aleec Harris did not reach the final eight in the men's 110m HH. After the first two heats, it would take a time of 13.54 to advance, just .01 seconds faster than his PR. Running with a sore ankle, the junior Harris clipped a couple of early hurldes and never could get on stride finishing seventh in the third heat and 21st overall with a time of 14.13. By designation of his finish, Harris will earn honorable mention All-America honors.

    The final event for the Trojans on the day was the women's 4x400m relay. USC's team of Ndipagbor, sophomore Vanessa Jones, junior Jenna Puterbaugh and junior Ashley Liverpool ran in the final heat. Following the first two heats, the time to beat if they could not automatically qualify by finishing in the top two was 3:32.21, just .10 seconds faster than the Trojans' season best. Ndipagbor lead off and used a strong finish to give the baton to Jones with a very slight lead over Texas A&M. After getting boxed in and spiked on her leg, Jones gave the stick to Puterbaugh in fifth and she was able to move the Trojans into third place with a 53.59 leg. Liverpool kept the Trojans in third with a 53.09 leg, but their time of 3:34.44 left them in 11th overall and earning second-team All-America honors.

    Scheduled to compete for USC's women's team tomorrow will be Alitta Boyd and Melia Cox in the triple jump. In action for the men's team will be Aaron Brown (100m final), Bryshon Nellum (400m final) and Reggie Wyatt (400m IH final).