Track & Field
    USC T&F Heads To NCAA Preliminary Rounds In Arkansas
    Alexandra Collatz, fresh off capturing the first conference discus throw title by a Trojan woman, will begin her quest to become the first USC woman to earn All-America honors in the event twice.
    Alexandra Collatz, fresh off capturing the first conference discus throw title by a Trojan woman, will begin her quest to become the first USC woman to earn All-America honors in the event twice.

    May 26, 2014

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    USC's No. 9-ranked women's and No. 14-ranked men's track and field teams will compete at the 2014 West Preliminary Rounds hosted by Arkansas at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Ark. from May 29-31. There will be 48 athletes in each event, with the top 12 after the Preliminary Rounds in each region moving on to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. from June 11-14.

    BOTH TROJAN TEAMS PLACE 2ND AT PAC-12s - Both the USC men's and women's track and field teams placed second at the 2014 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships held in Pullman, Wash. (May 17-18), winning more individual event titles (12) than any other school, including Oregon which won both competitions. The USC women's team scored 145 points, while the men's team earned 99 points. USC's Lauren Blackburn (100m HH - 13.08), Jaide Stepter (400m IH - 56.99), Aleec Harris (110m HH - 13.35), Aaron Brown (100m - 10.16 & 200m - 20.26) and the women's 4x100m relay (43.21) all set track records. Harris and the women's 4x100m relay team set Pac-12 meet records and the women's relay was the third-fastest all-time by a Pac-12 quartet.

    BROWN NAMED MEN'S ATHLETE OF THE MEET AT PAC-12s - USC senior Aaron Brown was named the Pac-12 Men's Athlete of the Meet at the championships as he won the 100m, 200m and ran on the winning 4x100m relay. Brown set the Mooberry Track 100m record in the semifinals with a time of 10.16 (+1.5), then won the finals with come-from-behind time of 10.31 (-1.0). He also won the 200m dash with a a track record-time of 20.26 (-2.1). Brown ran the second leg for the 4x100m relay that won with a season-best time of 39.43. In all, he contributed 30 points in the team competition. It was the second consecutive season a Trojan male had won the award as Bryshon Nellum picked up the honor in 2013 for winning the 200m and 400m while also setting two stadium records.

    TRAVELING TROJANS - USC will have 27 athletes (11 men, 16 women) declared individually or as part of a relay team at the 2014 NCAA Preliminary Rounds. The men qualifying for the Preliminary Rounds are Terence Abram (4x100m-alt.), Aaron Brown (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Jeff Churchman (javelin), Remy Conatser (hammer), Herb Dew (high jump), Viktor Fajoyomi (long jump), Aleec Harris (110m HH, 4x100m), BeeJay Lee (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Bryan Mercado (4x100m-alt.), Alex Rohani (400m) and Davonte Stewart (200m, 4x100m). Women qualifiying are Lauren Blackburn (100m HH), Lauren Chambers (hammer), Alexandra Collatz (discus), Melia Cox (100m HH, triple jump), Jessica Davis (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Alexis Faulknor (100m, long jump, 4x100m), Tynia Gaither (100m, 200m, 4x100m, 4x400m), Amalie Iuel (400m IH), Vanessa Jones (400m, 4x400m), Loudia Laarman (100m, 4x100m), Ashley Liverpool (400m, 4x400m), Akawkaw Ndipagbor (400m, 4x400m), Tera Novy (discus), Kemi Olonade (triple jump), Tanya Sapa (shot put) and Jaide Stepter (400m IH). In addition, Fajoyomi is already qualified for the decathlon finals at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. on June 11-12.

    YEAR FIVE OF NCAA PRELIMINARY ROUNDS FORMAT - For the fifth year there will be two NCAA Preliminary Rounds taking place simultaneously (East Preliminary Rounds are in Jacksonville, Fla.) which will virtually serve as the first and second rounds of the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

    SIX TROJANS EARN PAC-12 WEEKLY HONORS IN 2014 - Senior Aaron Brown was named Pac-12 Men's Track Athlete of the Week (April 28-May 4) for wins in the 100m (10.18), 200m (20.46) and 4x100m (39.76) at the USC-UCLA Dual Meet on May 4. He was the sixth Trojan to win Pac-12 T&F weekly honors this season, joining Remington Conatser and Jessica Davis (March 17-23), Viktor Fajoyomi (March 24-30), Aleec Harris (April 14-20) and Alexandra Collatz (April 21-27).

    USC RANKING AMONG THE BEST - There are currently 22 NCAA top 30 marks posted by Trojan athletes this season: Men: Aaron Brown (100m - T-11th, 200m - 6th), Remington Conatser (Hammer - 2nd), Viktor Fajoyomi (Decathlon - 15th, HJ - T-27th), Aleec Harris (110m HH - 2nd), BeeJay Lee (100m - T-28th), Davonte Stewart (200m - 30th) and the 4x100m relay (10th). Women: Lauren Blackburn (100m HH - 11th), Lauren Chambers (Hammer - 17th), Alexandra Collatz (Discus - 7th), Melia Cox (TJ- 25th), Jessica Davis (100m - T-12th, 200m - 10th), Alexis Faulknor (100m - T-27th), Tynia Gaither (200m - T-6th), Vanessa Jones (400 - 15th), Tera Novy (Discus - 19th), Jaide Stepter (400m IH - T-10th), the 4x100m relay (2nd) and the 4x400m relay (4th).

    CONATSER NOT SETTLING FOR SECOND - USC senior hammer thrower Remington Conatser placed second at the 2013 NCAA Championships with a then-PR of 224-1 (68.30m) which was the eighth-farthest throw all-time by a Trojan, but seems to have elevated his game. In his first meet this season, he threw 217-10 to win at the Rossi Relays. His next meet was even more impressive as he PR'd by more than six feet to win at the CS Los Angeles Invitational with a throw of 230-4 (70.21m) to take the collegiate lead and move into fourth-place on USC's all-time list. Apparently he was just warming up as he won the Trojan Invitational hammer throw competition on March 21 with a PR of 238-8 (72.76m) to move into third place on USC's all-time list and seventh on the Pac-12 all-time list. That mark was the NCAA leader until May 10 when Oklahoma State's Nick Miller had a throw of 244-0. Conatser won the Dual Meet hammer throw with a mark of 228-3 (69.58m) on May 4 and then came back to win his second consecutive Pac-12 title with a throw of 232-8 (70.92m). Conatser did not even learn to throw the hammer until the 2011 season and played water polo and volleyball in high school at Capistrano Valley.

    BLACKBURN IS NOT GOING TO GO OUT QUIETLY - Senior hurdler Lauren Blackburn has garnered second-team All-America honors twice and honorable mention one time and looks to hurdle onto the first team in 2014. She had a 2013-best of 13.35 in the 100m HH and placed fifth in the event at the 2013 Pac-12 Championships and 22nd at the NCAA Championships. Blackburn set the USC freshman 100m HH record in 2011 with a time of 13.06 in placing second at the Pac-10 Championships to teammate Nia Ali. Blackburn's time erased Virginia (Powell) Crawford's mark of 13.07 off the books. Blackburn had a strong 2014 indoor season, winning the MPSF 60m HH title with a PR of 8.19. Blackburn then went on to the NCAA Indoor Championships where she finished 16th after clipping a hurdle and finishing with a time of 8.52. Blackburn opened up with an impressive time of 13.34 in winning at the Trojan Invitational on March 21. She then blazed to a wind-aided personal best of 12.99 (+2.7) to finish fifth in the Invite Elite race at Mt. SAC on April 19. That time currently ranks 11th among college runners in the 100m hurdles. Blackburn's wind-legal best this season is 13.08 (+0.4) run in winning the Pac-12 title on May 18, her fastest legal time since her PR of 13.06 at the 2011 Pac-12 Chapionships.

    JONES KEEPS IMPROVING - Junior Vanessa Jones has developed into one of the top 400m runners in the country, while becoming an integral part of the Trojans relay program. Jones set a then-400m PR of 52.83 at the Florida Relays on April 4 which bettered her seventh-place standing on USC's all-time list. She then established a new personal-best of 52.63 in winning at the USC-UCLA Dual Meet on May 4, moving into 6th on USC's all-time list. She topped that and bettered her 6th-place standing with a PR of 52.39 in placing third at the Pac-12 Championships on May 18. Last season she anchored the 4x100m relay team which placed seventh at the NCAA Championships with a time of 44.48 to earn first-team All-America honors. She also ran on the 4x400m relay team which placed 11th at the NCAA Championships and ran the ninth-fastest time in school history of 3:32.31 at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds. Jones had a PR of 23.43 (+0.0) in the 200m to place third at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 18.

    NEXT WEEK - USC's track and field team will train in preparation for the NCAA Track & Field Championships to be held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. from June 11-14.