Track & Field
    USC To Host Top-Talent At Trojan Invitational On March 22-23
    Redshirt senior Cooper Thompson is expected to return to action after redshirting in 2012.  Thompson will be competing in the men's javelin throw on Friday night.
    Redshirt senior Cooper Thompson is expected to return to action after redshirting in 2012. Thompson will be competing in the men's javelin throw on Friday night.

    March 20, 2013

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    The USC Trojans men's (No. 8) and women's (No. 23) track and field teams will be hosting the Trojan Invitational at Loker Stadium on March 22 and 23. The meet will feature some of the top teams and talent in the country. Also as is tradition, the Trojans are hosting the L.A. Section high school relay championships as part of the meet. The hammer throw competition will be held on Friday, March 22 beginning at 2 p.m. at West L.A. College, while the javelin throw event will be contested starting at 6 p.m. Friday at Loker Stadium. A Distance Carnival of the 3000m and 5000m races will be held at Loker Stadium Friday beginning at 6:45 p.m. The majority of the meet will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.

    TROJAN INVITE OFFERS A FIELD OF TOP TALENT - USC will be hosting a strong field at the 2013 Trojan Invitational which features Texas A&M, Utah, BYU, Washington, Washington State, Hawaii, Cal Poly and others. The Texas A&M men `s team enters the season ranked No. 1 and the Aggies' women's team is currently ranked No. 6. The Washington women's team enters the meet with a No. 18 ranking. Three of the women's teams and three of the men's teams finished in the top 25 at the 2012 NCAA Championships.

    RETURNING ALL-AMERICANS - USC's 2013 track and field team features eight athletes which have earned first team All-America status in their careers. Those athletes are, Men: Aaron Brown (200m), Bryshon Nellum (4x400m), Reggie Wyatt (400m IH, 4x400m) and Women: Jessica Davis (200m, 4x100m), Loudia Laarman (4x100m), Akawkaw Ndipagbor (4x100m), Jenny Ozorai (hammer throw) and Jenna Puterbaugh (4x100m).

    COLLATZ OFF TO A FAST START - Discus thrower Alexandra Collatz wasted no time in putting her name in the USC record books last season when she established the USC freshman discus throw record in her first meet with a throw of 176-5 and then bettered it in April with a mark of 177-11 (54.24m). That mark ranks second all-time by a Trojan female. Already this season, Collatz has a best discus throw of 176-4 and set a PR in the hammer throw with a mark of 174-2 (53.10m) on March 15.

    USC CONTINUES TO BRING THE HAMMER - The USC throws program under the direction of Dan Lange has been very strong, but none stronger than the success of the hammer throwers and this season should be no different. Junior Jenny Ozorai has finished sixth and fourth in her freshman and sophomore seasons respectively in the hammer throw at the NCAA Championships. Ozorai has also finished 3rd and 2nd respectively in the hammer throw at the Pac-12 Championships and ranks second all-time by a Trojan female with a best best toss of 223-4 (68.08m). Junior Remy Conatser transfered to USC from Saddleback College with a best hammer throw of 217-5 which is a JC record and would have been good for fourth at the 2012 NCAA Championships. Sophomore Daniel Szabo who placed 12th at the 2012 NCAA Championships and registered the eighth-farthest mark in USC history with a throw of 220-2 is coming off hip surgery and may have to redshirt this season. USC has had 12 women's athletes score at the NCAAs in the past 14 seasons and has had 16 men's athletes score in the last 20 seasons.

    4x400M RELAY UNDER CONSTRUCTION - A definite strength of the USC men's team the last few seasons has been its 4x400m relay team of Bryshon Nellum, Reggie Wyatt, Joey Hughes, Josh Mance and Duane Walker (alternate) which combined in various groupings to post four of the top 10 all-time best 1600m relay times in USC history. Last year, Hughes, Mance, Wyatt and Nellum combined to run 3:00.64 which took second at the NCAA Championships and was just .06 off the school record set in 1992. Nellum and Wyatt are back, but Hughes, Walker and Scott DeYoung (the other alternate) all have graduated, while Mance has transferred to Florida State. That leaves the Trojans looking to fill two legs and both alternate spots on the 4x400m relay team.

    MEN'S SPRINT RELAY MAY BE A FACTOR - USC has not entered a 4x100m relay team at the NCAA Championships the last two seasons, but that may be changing this year. USC has All-American sprinter Aaron Brown (10.18) back, as well as All-American transfer BeeJay Lee (10.26) to build around. Another key leg from last season's team is sophomore Davonte Stewart (10.51). Now USC also will have available redshirt freshman Jovante Slater (10.54), as well as football players George Farmer (10.40), D.J. Morgan (10.6) and Marqise Lee (10.74).

    WOMEN'S 4X100M SEEMED IN GOOD SHAPE... - In each of the last two seasons the USC women's 4x100m relay team has earned All-America status, placing seventh in 2012 and third in 2011. Aareon Payne who ran the second leg has graduated, but junior Loudia Laarman who ran the leadoff leg, junior Jenna Puterbaugh who ran the third leg in 2011 and sophomore Akawkaw Ndipagbor who ran the third leg in 2012, as well as junior anchor Jessica Davis are all back. The core four of Davis, Laarman, Puterbaugh and Ndipagbor all are eligible to return again next season. Laarman has been battling a hamstring injury in the early season and may have to shut it down for awhile, leaving a spot open likely for one of USC's hurdlers or 400m runners.

    WOMEN'S 4X400M RELAY HAS OPTIONS - USC also has not entered a women's 4x400m relay at the NCAA Championships since 2010, but this year it may be hard to keep the Trojans out. USC has added junior Ashley Liverpool who placed 13th at the 2012 NCAAs in the 400m dash, who will join sophomore returners Vanessa Jones and Akawkaw Ndipagbor and junior Jenna Puterbaugh who missed most of last season with injuries. USC has added freshman hurdler Jaide Stepter and junior Jessica Davis has run on the 4x400m relay before, too, giving the Trojans plenty of options. So far in the early season, USC's team of Ndipagbor, Jones, Puterbaugh and Liverpool has run 3:40.08

    OZORAI TO OPEN SEASON AT TROJAN INVITE - Two-time All-American hammer thrower Jenny Ozorai is scheduled to open up her 2013 campaign at the Trojan Invitational on March 22. The junior placed fourth at the 2012 NCAA Championships in the hammer throw of 216-3. She moved into second place on USC's all-time hammer throw list with a winning throw of 223-4 (68.08m) at the 2012 Ben Brown Invitational on March 9. Ozorai took third in the hammer thow at the 2011 Pac-10 Championships and then placed second at the 2012 Pac-12 Championships. In her two seasons of competing in the hammer, shot and discus throw in the USC-UCLA Dual Meet, Ozorai has garned two first-place finishes and four second-place marks. Ozorai's top career mark in the discus is 161-10 and her shot put best is 45-8.

    FOOTBALL AND TRACK GO HAND AND HAND - USC has a long tradition of football stars adding to the Trojans' great track and field heritage with crossover stars like NCAA champions Earl McCullouch, O.J. Simpson, Edesel Garrison and Kevin Young. USC has several football players which are expected to compete this season around their football spring obligations, including D.J. Morgan, Marqise Lee and George Farmer. Last season Morgan placed fifth at the Pac-12 Championships in the 110m HH with a time of 14.21 and Marqise Lee finished fourth in the long jump (25-1.25) and was sixth as part of the 4x100m relay at the Pac-12 Championships and earned honorable mention honors in the long jump by finishing 17th at the NCAA Championships. Farmer, who is expected to compete in the sprints and relays for USC, has a PR of 10.40 in the 100m and 21.22 in the 200m.

    FAJOYOMI EXPANDS HIS REPERTOIRE - Junior Viktor Fajoyomi will compete this season as a decathlete, no longer focusing on the high jump and the horizonal jumps. In his first two seasons at USC Fajoyomi focused on the jumps, placing 16th in the high jump and 21st in the long jump at the 2012 Pac-12 Championships, after taking ninth in the high jump, seventh in the triple jump and 17th in the long jump at the 2011 conference meet. Fajoyomi has a PR of 7-1.50 (2.18m) in the high jump, 50-6.25w (15.40m) in the triple jump and 23-6.75 (7.18m)/24-4.50 (7.43m) in the long jump. For last year's Dual Meet against UCLA, Fajoyomi trained for the week in the javelin and threw it 159-11 to finish fourth. Already this season, Fajoyomi has posted a 15.01 time in the 110m HH, a 12-6.75 (3.83m) in the pole vault, a 38-1.25 (11.84m) in the shot put and 114-9 (34.99m) in the discus throw.

    HARRIS HAPPY TO BE HURDLING AGAIN - Junior Aleec Harris is back on the track after sitting out last season following his transfer from Barton Community College in Kansas. Harris suffered an achilles injury at Barton which required surgery and he used last season to rehabilitate. Harris had already won all four 110m HH races he has entered this season (Rossi Relays, Beach Classic, Ben Brown Invitational and CS Northridge Inivational) with a best time of 14.02 at the Beach Classic on March 2. Harris has a PR of 13.55 in the 110m HH set in 2011. Harris won the 2010 Junior College 110m HH championships with a time of 13.95.

    LIVERPOOL EYES TROJAN TOP 10 - Junior transfer Ashley Liverpool is coming off a strong sophomore season at Iowa which saw her run a PR of 52.47 in the 400m race and place 13th at the NCAA Championships in the event with a time of 52.81 to earn second-team All-America honors. Her PR would rank sixth all-time by a Trojan so it seems it is merely a matter of time for the talented junior to place her name on the Trojans' all-time list. She ranks third all-time in the 400m dash at Iowa and 10th in the 200m with a PR of 23.98.

    NEXT WEEK - USC's track and field team will be off next week and then compete at the Stanford Ivite and the Florida Relays on April 5-6.