USC Men Finish Fifth, Women Tie For 21st At NCAA T&F Championships
June 8, 2013
EUGENE, ORE. - The USC men's track and field team placed fifth with its most points since 1977 as Bryshon Nellum finished third and Aaron Brown fifth in the men's 200m dash during the final day of the 2013 NCAA Track & Field Championships hosted by Oregon at historic Hayward Field today (June 8) before a crowd of 11,482. The USC women's 4x100m relay team placed seventh today and the women's team scored a total of 12 points at the meet to tie for 21st in the team scoring at the NCAA Championships. Following the meet, USC Director of Track & Field Ron Allice announced to the team that he would be retiring at the end of the month, ending his outstanding 19-year run at the head of the USC track and field program.
"It's a good way to go out," said Allice. "As I tell people all the time, in coaching, you have to figure out when it looks like you're leading a parade not being chased (out) by a mob. I can't say enough about the staff. I can't say enough about the athletes. They performed. Everybody took care of business and that's what you come here to do."
Despite coming to the NCAA Championships with just five men entered in a total of seven events and the other top five finishers having 13-20 entrants each, the Trojans gave it a good run and brought back memories of the 1943 team which won with just four athletes.
"We really competed," added Allice who led his team to a top five finish for the seventh time. "There's no team that competed any better than we did for what we brought. We came with five people on the men's side. And even on the women, we had barely qualifiers out of the regionals, yet those people came here, performed, and scored."
"I couldn't be more proud of any team," said Allice. "We didn't have anyone who let us down. On the men's side, that's an unbelievable performance. Yesterday was special. I knew what was coming, we didn't have a relay, we didn't have a way to defend us at the end. The last three years I've had one of the best 4x4's in the country. But if I had made that choice to have them try and do that, they wouldn't have done what they did in their individual events. So I scratched our relays. I would not change a thing, the decision I made was the right decision. We did very, very well. We upset a lot of people's expectations and predictions for us."
The final event for the Trojans at the 2013 NCAA Track & Field Championships was the men's 200m dash with the senior Nellum running in lane four and the junior Brown running in lane seven. Nellum was attempting to become only the third person and first since 1951 to win both the men's 200m and 400m dash titles, but it was not to be as he placed third with a wind-aided time of 20.27. Brown took fifth with a time of 20.33. Nellum and Brown became the first pair of Trojans to score in the 200m dash at NCAAs in the same season since Clancy Edwards and James Sanford finished first and third respectively in 1978. Nellum and Brown combined to score 10 points and vaulted USC back into first place, but the Trojans were out of bullets and would have to await what happened with the other teams with five events remaining.
"It's been a long week," said Nellum. "The 400m, that 44 yesterday put a toll on me. All I was able to do is go out there and give it my best. I came a long way. Winning one national title was enough. I'm very thankful. I can't really be upset about anything. The 200m was a fun race to see what I can do. I've been running it good all season so I thought I'd come out and see what I could do. But winning that 400m was enough for me."
"For my college career, it painted a perfect picture," expressed Nellum. "Coming from all my injuries and having that long journey, this was a happy ending, winning the national title in the 400m and finishing top three in the 200m. Overall I've had a wonderful career at SC. I think everybody did well. Everybody went out there and gave their all. For us to only have five guys, we did very well. I'm very happy for the Trojan family and our whole team. Now we're stepping up a notch. We are going to the professional level. Instead of nationwide I'm going to be worldwide. So I need to get ready for that. USAs are coming up in a few weeks so I need to get ready for that."
"I feel blessed, honestly," said Brown. "I left it all on the line just like I wanted to. After all four races I felt good about all of them. Bryshon and I came out here and got top five. Can't complain at all. Our team had five people, while A&M and Florida had fifteen or twenty. We're kind of like 300 competing against this huge number of people and we did our best. I think we're going to finish top five so we can't complain at all."
"Makes me hungry," continued Brown. "I got two fifth places. A lot of people that beat me are seniors so next year coming back I should be one of the favorites. That makes me hungry. I'm not going to be complacent and settle I'm going to be hungry to make sure I'm at the top. I know I have a chance to win. So I'm going to go into the offseason with the mindset that I can win."
Going into the men's 4x400m relay, the last event of the meet, USC stood in third place behind Texas A&M and Florida, and owning a 3.5 point lead over Arkansas and a 4.0 point lead over Oregon. Both Arkansas and Oregon were in the 4x400m final, so the Trojans would need them both to finish sixth or lower to remain in third place. When the collegiate leader Texas A&M dropped the baton at the first exchange, things were going to be much tougher for the Trojans. As it turned out, Arkansas placed second to earn eight points and Oregon placed third to earn six points to drop the Trojans into fifth place. The 42 points scored by USC were its most at the NCAA Championships since scoring 44 points in 1977.
The USC women's team only had the 4x400m relay competing on the final day. The team of junior Loudia Laarman, sophomore Melia Cox, junior Jenna Puterbaugh and sophomore Vanessa Jones ran in the first race of the day and took seventh with a time of 44.48. The Trojans earned first-team All-America honors in the event and scored two points to finish the meet with 12 points. Including alternates junior Jessica Davis and sophomore Akawkaw Ndipagbor, USC's entire six-women team will be back for the 2014 season.
"I feel like we had a rough season with everybody injured, but we were really happy to pull through and get All-American status," said Puterbaugh. "I'm proud of everybody. We are all fighting injuries that no one else can see so I'm really stoked for how we did."
"I'm just looking forward to next year," added Jones. "We have a young team and we have more to accomplish. It's going to be great next year."
Trojan athletes scoring and earning first-team All-America status were: Alitta Boyd (8th, triple jump, 1 point), Aaron Brown (5th, 100m, 4 points and 5th, 200m, 4 points), Alexandra Collatz (5th, discus throw, 4 points), Remington Conatser (2nd, hammer throw, 8 points), Bryshon Nellum (1st, 400m, 10 points and 2rd, 200m, 6 points), Jenny Ozorai (4th, hammer throw, 5 points), Reggie Wyatt (1st, 400m IH, 10 points) and the women's 4x100m relay team of Loudia Laarman, Melia Cox, Jenna Puterbaugh and Vanessa Jones (7th, 2 points).
USC athletes earning second-team All-America honors (9-16th) were: Alitta Boyd (11th, long jump), Melia Cox (11th, triple Jump) and the women's 4x400m relay team of Akawkaw Ndipagbor, Vanessa Jones, Jenna Puterbaugh and Ashley Liverpool (11th).
Men's Team Scoring: T-1.) Texas A&M (53 points) and Florida (53 points), 3,) Arkansas (46.5 points), 4.) Oregon (44 points), 5.) USC (42 points).
Women's Team Scoring: 1.) Kansas (60 points), 2.) Texas A&M (44 points), 3.) Oregon (43 points), 4.) LSU (40 points)....T-21.) USC (12 points).