USC Men T-4th, Women T-16th AT 2014 NCAA T&F Championships
June 14, 2014
EUGENE, ORE. - The USC men's team tied for fourth with 29 points and the women's team tied for 16th with 15 points as three more individuals and three relay teams earned All-America honors on the final day of the 2014 NCAA Track & Field Championships hosted by Oregon at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore today (June 14).
The USC men's teams finish was its highest since 2003 and after taking fifth in 2013, the Trojans posted their first consecutive top five finishes at the NCAA Championship since the 1976-77 seasons. The USC women's team's finish was its highest since placing sixth in 2011. The Trojan women have now placed in the top 16 in 16 of the last 19 seasons and the men have finished in the top 10 in 16 of the last 21 seasons.
"I am very proud of this team this weekend," said USC Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert. "We had a great finish to a wonderful meet. The 4x100m's are always heart-wrenching. I always get nervous for the 4x100m. The women were in the lead until the last leg and we ran a season-best time of 43-flat, second on USC's all-time list, so that was very good. The handoffs were clean, we executed a great race. When you execute, even if you don't get first place, you feel like you did, so I feel like we won in that race. The men (4x100m) came in ranked down the list and ended up fourth. BeeJay (Lee) ran a beautiful leg, Aaron (Brown) opened up the gap for us and Terence (Abram) anchored the relay and finished very strong for his last race wearing the shield. We ran well, second-best time of the season. Then we came to the 200m races. Aaron Brown ran 20.02, but the way he ran his race, he executed it perfectly, he just didn't have enough to hold up at the end, but it was executed well and I don't think he could have done anything else. Tynia (Gaither) out of lane eight was able to run 23.05. Her Achilles tweaked slightly so I think she eased up some at the end. She didn't have her normal hard finish. Her Achilles got tight so we couldn't run her on the 4x400m. Aleec Harris, if someone had told me that 13.18 would be second at this meet I probably would paid them a million dollars and told them they were wrong. He hit number six and kept running through it, but then nine and 10 he hit and it cost him his run to the line. For him to run 13.18 twice and be that consistent after he crushed six, nine and 10, it just shows you that he is heading in the direction of being a world-class hurdler. He is a world-class hurdler. It will be nice to see all of them go out and run professionally and represent their countries Canada, U.S.-team USA. All the men did a great job. We were fourth place and we got a trophy and that was probably the highlight of the day to watch their faces, holding the trophy up with the victory sign. We will be bringing that trophy back to Los Angeles. The women have some things we have to work on - strength and technique - but I was very proud of the performance they showed this meet and this season. They overcame a lot, worked hard and I think it is setting us up, men and women, for a very, very great year next year and is setting us up for recruiting. Our shield is being recognized and we are going to be able to do some awesome things in the years to come, so Fight On!"
The men's 4x100m relay team was first with senior Aleec Harris, senior Aaron Brown, junior BeeJay Lee and senior Terence Abram and it placed fourth with a time of 39.30 to earn the Trojans five points in the team competition. It was the first time USC had a men's 4x100m relay team score at the NCAA Championships since 2005 and was the team's highest finish since taking second in 1999.
The women's 4x100m relay team of senior Loudia Laarman, senior Jessica Davis, sophomore Alexis Faulknor and sophomore Tynia Gaither were next. They stormed around the track to take second with the second-fastest time in school history of 43.00 (.04 seconds off the school record) and earned eight points. Davis had an impressive second leg, but ran up on Faulknor and by the time the final exchange from Faulknor to Gaither was completed, Gaither had received the baton slightly behind for the final stretch and the Aggies held on to win for the sixth time in seven seasons with a 2014 collegiate best of 42.80. USC's women have scored in the 4x100m relay in each of the last four seasons and the only person to run in each of those finals was the senior Laarman. The last time USC's 4x100m relay placed second was in 2001 with a team of Angela Williams, Candace Young, Natasha Neal and Kinshasa Davis.
Brown then ran a wind-aided (+2.1) season-best time of 20.02 to take second in the men's 200m final to earn the Trojans another eight points. The winner of the race was Dedric Dukes of Florida who ran 19.91. Brown's time was the fastest ever run by a Trojan in the finals. He finishes his USC career by scoring in the 200m dash in three consecutive seasons, only the third Trojan to score in the 200m/220-yard final three years in a row, joining Foy Draper (1934-36) and Cliff Bourland (1941-43). He also becomes the first Trojan to score in the 100m and 200m dashes in consecutive seasons since Lennox Miller in 1967-68. In Brown's four-year career, he scored 29 points at the NCAA Championships which ties him for ninth-place on USC's all-time points scored list. He also was a six-time first-team outdoor track and field All-American.
Gaither then placed sixth in the women's 200m race with a time of 23.05 (+2.2w) to earn the Trojans three more points. She also became the first USC woman to score in the 100m and 200m races in the same season since Carol Rodriguez in 2006.
Harris then matched his PR of 13.18 (+1.3) in the men's 110m HH final which had been the second-fastest collegiate time ever, but Oregon's Devon Allen ran 13.16 to edge him out for the title. Harris took second to earn the Trojans eight more points. Harris joins the NCAA 110m record-holder Renaldo Nehemiah as the only two collegiate hurdlers ever to run under 13.20 twice in one season. Harris became the 11th Trojan male to score in the 110m HH finals in the last 18 seasons. Harris' second-place finish was the highest by a Trojan since Ryan Wilson won the title in 2003.
The final event for the 2014 NCAA Track & Field Championships was the women's 4x400m relay and USC ran a team of senior Ashley Liverpool, junior Akawkaw Ndipagbor, Davis and junior Vanessa Jones. They needed a top two finish to make the top 10 at the meet in the team standings. Liverpool handed the stick to Ndipagbor in fourth and she handed it to Davis in fifth. Davis made up ground on the back stretch to move into third temporarily, but gave it back down the home stretch and Jones grabbed the baton in seventh. Jones could not catch the pack and USC finished the race in seventh with a time of 3:32.35 just outside of USC's top 10 list to earn two points in the team standings. The Trojans scored in the 4x400m relay for the first time since the 2009 season.
Davis ended her career with 19 points scored and Laarman with 18 points scored at the NCAA Championships which rank 16th and tied for 17th all-time by Trojan women.
Trojan athletes earning first-team All-America honors at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor T&F Championships were Terence Abram (4x100m), Aaron Brown (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Alex Collatz (discus), Jessica Davis (4x100m, 4x400m), Viktor Fajoyomi (decathlon), Alexis Faulknor (4x100m), Tynia Gaither (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Aleec Harris (110m HH, 4x100m), Vanessa Jones (4x400m), Loudia Laarman (4x100m), BeeJay Lee (4x100m), Ashley Liverpool (4x400m), Akawkaw Ndipagbor (4x400m).
Men's Team Scoring: 1.) Oregon - 88, 2.) Florida - 70, 3.) Texas A&M - 41.5, 4.) USC and LSU - 29
Women's Team Scoring: 1.) Texas A&M - 75, 2.) Texas - 66, 3.) Oregon - 59, 4.) Florida - 55, 5.) Georgia - 35...T-16.) USC and Florida State - 15