USC Heads To NCAA Track And Field Championships
June 6, 2008
2008 USC TRACK AND FIELD - The USC Trojans men's and women's track and field team will be competing at the NCAA Track and Field Championships being hosted by Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa from June 11-14. USC will be bringing 21 athletes to the championships, eight men and 13 women and they will compete in 19 different events. The NCAA T & F Championships will be televised on CBS College Sports Network from 5-8 p.m. PT on June 13 and on CBS from 1-3 PT on June 14.
USC AT THE NCAA TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS - The USC men's track and field team has won 26 NCAA outdoor titles, more than double the next-best program Arkansas, which has won 12. USC won a record nine-straight titles from 1935-43. The Trojan women's team won its only team title in 2001. The first men's championship was held in 1921 and the initial women's competition was in 1982. The USC men's team placed fifth in 2007 and have finished in the top 10 in 11 of the last 14 years. The women's team placed seventh in 2007 and have had a top 10 finish in nine of the last 12 seasons.
RETURNING NCAA SCORERS - The following 2008 Trojans scored points at the 2007 NCAA Championships in Sacramento, Calif.: Men - Ahmad Rashad (200m - 8th), Lionel Larry (400m - 2nd), Duane Solomon (800m - 7th), Kai Kelley (110m HH - 7th). Women - Shalina Clarke (4x100m - 3rd), Jessica Onyepunuka (100m - 7th, 4x100m - 3rd), Eva Orban (Hammer - 3rd), Carol Rodriguez (100m - 4th, 4x100m - 3rd).
USC MEN TAKE SECOND, WOMEN THIRD AT WEST REGIONAL - The USC men's team took second place two points behind Arizona State at the NCAA West Regional, after winning the event the last three seasons. The women's team placed third. Winning titles for USC were Eva Orban (women's hammer), Corey White (men's javelin), Jessica Onyepunuka (women's 100m), Carol Rodriguez (women's 400m), Shalina Clarke (women's 100m HH), Lionel Larry (men's 400m) and the men's 4x400m relay team. The Trojans also had second-place finishes in six events.
AT THE PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS - The USC men's team placed seventh and the women's team fourth at the Pac-10 Championships hosted by Arizona State on May 16-17. The Trojans went into the meet with a few athletes out with injuries and a few others slowed by injuries and it showed in the results. Still, there were several notable performances by USC. Claiming Pac-10 titles were Shalina Clarke in the women's 400m IH, Lionel Larry in the men's 400m dash, Corey White in the men's javelin and the USC women's 4x100m relay team. Since winning the Pac-10 women's team title in 1996, the Women of Troy have finished no lower than fourth every season. The Trojan men had finished in the top four every season since finishing ninth in 1991 and own four Pac-10 titles in that time.
THE L-TRAIN IS RUNNING - Senior Lionel Larry ran his first 400m race of the season on April 20 at Mt. SAC and finished third in the Invitational 400m race as the only collegian with a time of 46.24. Larry finished second in the 400m race at the 2007 NCAA Championships (by .02) and has a PR of 44.67 in the event, which ranks third all-time at USC. He set that mark in the semi-finals at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships last June, where he placed third. He was a four-time winner at the USC-UCLA Dual Meet on May 3, running a 45.04 time in the 400m race, the anchor on both the 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams and capturing the 200m dash in his first 200m race as a Trojan with a regional-qualifying time of 20.65. Larry then went on to capture the Pac-10 400m title with a season-best time of 44.77, the sixth fastest time in the world this season. At the NCAA West Regional, Larry won the 400m title with a time of 45.70 and anchored the winning 4x400m relay team (3:05.16).
RETURNING ALL-AMERICANS - The Trojans have eight returning student-athletes who qualified for All-American honors during the 2007 track and field outdoor season: Shalina Clarke (4x100m), Jessica Onyepunuka (100m, 4x100m), Eva Orban (Hammer), Carol Rodriguez (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Kai Kelley (110m HH), Lionel Larry (400m), Ahmad Rashad (200m), Duane Solomon (800m).
SCHOOL RECORD HOLDERS - The Trojans have eight individuals on the current team who hold USC records: Zsofia Erdelyi (3000m SC), Kate Hutchinson (discus), Jessica Onyepunuka (4x100m), Eva Orban (hammer), Carol Rodriguez (200m, 400m, 4x100m), Irek Sekretarski (1-Mile), Brysun Stately (Pole Vault - redshirting in 2008), Corey White (Javelin).
T&F NEWS PROJECTS USC TO SHOW GOOD FORM - Track and Field News' May 21 2008 NCAA Formchart lists the USC men's team finishing sixth and the women's team tied for seventh at the 2008 NCAA Championships, down from previous rankings. The men are projected to score 30 points, while the women are predicted to score 25 points. T&F News projects Lionel Larry to win the men's 400m race, Duane Solomon to win the men's 800m race and Corey White to win the javelin competition. Other Trojans that are projected to score at the 2008 NCAA Track and Field Championships according to Track and Field News and their predicted finish are as follows: Men: None. Women: Carol Rodriguez in the 400m (4th), 4x100m (4th), 4x400m (4th), Eva Orban in the hammer (2nd), Kristine Busa in the javelin (7th).
USC TRACK AND FIELD HISTORY - USC is well known as one of the most successful athletic programs in the history of the NCAA, with 107 men's and women's national championships. The Trojans have won far more NCAA team and individual titles combined than any other university. However, the most dominant force in USC's slate of athletic programs is not the baseball team (12 College World Series titles) or the football squad (nine national championships) but the men's track and field program, with an unprecedented 28 NCAA titles (including nine straight, 1935-43). In fact, in the history of the NCAA, only the Oklahoma State wrestling program (31) has more national titles than USC men's outdoor track and field. Trojan athletes have dominated the track and field scene for decades. From the exploits of sprinter Charlie Paddock and thrower Clarence "Bud" Houser in the 1920s and 1930s, sprinter Mel Patton in the 1940s, thrower Parry O'Brien in the 1950s,sprinter Lennox Miller and pole vaulter Bob Seagren in the 1960s, sprinter Quincy Watts in the 1980s, to four-time NCAA hammer champion Balazs Kiss (only the fifth collegian to win four in a row) in the 1990s and World Champion hurdler Felix Sanchez in the 2000s, USC is synonymous with track and field excellence.
Ron Allice AND SUCCESS GO HAND IN HAND - Director of Track and Field Ron Allice enters his 14th season at the helm of the USC program. With the outstanding coaching staff he has assembled, the Trojans have returned to prominence on a national level once again. USC has the only track and field program in the country to have both the men's and women's squad finish in the top 10 in the country in each of the last three seasons. Under his guidance, the Trojan men's team has finished in the top 10 at the NCAA finals in 10 of his 13 seasons, including a fifth-place finish last season. The Women of Troy won their first-ever national championship in 2001 under Allice, who has guided the women's track and field team to a top 10 finish nine times in 13 seasons, including a seventh-place finish in 2007. USC's past successes in track and field are well known: 29 NCAA championships (including two indoor titles), 61 world records, 87 Olympic team members, 40 Olympic gold medals and 16 inductees in the U.S. National Track and Field Hall of Fame - all encapsuled in 106 years of a rich and storied tradition.
TROJANS LEAVING THEIR MARKS - The Trojans have 30 athletes on the current team, including 10 added this season, that have posted top 10 marks all-time by a Trojan. The following is a list of those athletes and their ranking at USC:
MEN - Kai Kelley (110m HH - 8th, 4x400m - 5th, 400m IH - 8th), Lionel Larry (400m - 3rd, 4x100m - 3rd, 4x400m -5th), Stenn Parton (Javelin -10th), John Peate (Steeplechase - 10th), Irek Sekretarski (Mile - 1st), Duane Solomon (800m - 2nd, 4x800m - 2nd & 3rd, 1500m - 9th), Corey White (Javelin - 1st), Manjula Wijesekara (High Jump - 3rd).
WOMEN - Nia Ali (110m HH - T-4th, HJ - T-10th), Ekene Anene (High Jump - 10th, Triple Jump - 6th), Kristine Busa (Javelin - 2nd), Shalina Clarke (100m HH - 3rd, 400m IH - 6th, 4x100m - 9th, 4x400m - 6th), Sarah Cocco (3000m - 7th, 5000m - 3rd), Katherine Ellis (3000m SC - 7th), Zsofia Erdelyi (3000m - 4th, 5000m - 3rd, 3000m SC - 1st), Myra Hasson (4x400m - 6th, 10th), Kate Hutchinson (Discus - 1st), Zara Lukens (10000m - 3rd), Laura Meyers (3000m SC - 3rd), Chun Mei Nickles (Pole Vault - T-4th), Elizabeth Olear (4x400m - 6th, 10th), Lindsay Oman (Heptathlon - 8th), Jessica Onyepunuka (100m - 8th, 200m - 10th, 4x100m - 1st, 5th, 8th, 9th), Judith Onyepunuka (4x400m - 9th, 10th), Eva Orban (Hammer - 1st), Carol Rodriguez (100m - 7th, 200m - 1st, 400m - 1st, 4x100m - 1st, 5th, 9th, 4x400m - 6th, 9th, 10th), Michelle Sanford (Triple Jump - 3rd, Long Jump - 6th), Brysun Stately (Pole Vault - 1st, redshirting in 2008), Talia Stewart (100m HH - 10th, 400m IH - 7th, 4x100m - 5th), Shana Woods (Long Jump - 7th, Heptathlon - 3rd).
SENIORS HAVE LEFT THEIR MARK - The Trojan roster is filled with talented athletes throughout the different academic classes, but this year's senior group has posted some impressive numbers and they are not done yet! Lionel Larry has run a 44.67 400m and entered this season with designs on winning the NCAA 400m title (missed by .02 last season) and on challenging Quincy Watts' school record (43.50). Duane Solomon entered this season with a best of 1:45.69 in the 800m, just .77 seconds off the school record held by Ibrahim Okash. Kai Kelley in the 110m HH and the 400m IH will look to move up in the USC top 10 lists, while Logan Taylor looks to hurdle into the top 10 in the 110m high hurdles this season. Carol Rodriguez already owns the USC women's record in the 200m (22.23), 400m (51.39) and as part of the 4x100m relay team (42.96) and ranks seventh all-time in the 100m dash. Rodriguez and Jessica Onyepunuka were 1-2 finishers at the Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional last season in the 100m and 200m and this season Onyepunuka won the West Regional 100m race, while Rodriguez captured the 400m title. Discus thower Kate Hutchinson is already the USC record-holder in the event at 189-5, but after a redshirt season takes aim on setting a new school standard and on gaining USC points at the NCAA Championship.
IT'S HAMMER TIME FOR EVA - Junior Eva Orban got things started in a big way for the 2008 season by kicking off action on March 7 at the Ben Brown Invitational in the hammer throw with a winning mark of 226-6 (69.05m), just two inches off her school record. Then she established a new USC and Pac-10 record in the hammer throw in just her second outing of the season with a throw of 230-3 (70.18m) on March 15 at the Northridge Invitational. That mark is the farthest hammer throw by a college female this season. The hammer specialist has placed third or higher in every postseason meet she has competed in during her first two seasons at USC. As a freshman she set the school record with a throw of 226-8, won the Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional titles and placed second at the NCAA Championships. Last year, Orban took second in the hammer at the Pac-10s, won the NCAA West Regional title and placed third at the NCAA Championships. This year, despite having a knee injury, he took second in the hammer at the Pac-10s and then won the West Regional hammer title. Orban is ranked as the No. 2 female collegiate hammer thrower on CollegeHammer.com, trailing only returning champion Brittany Riley of Southern Illinois, who she defeated at the Mt. SAC relays with a throw of 227-2.
RODRIGUEZ AND ONYEPUNUKA FORM DYNAMIC DUO - Trojan senior sprinters Carol Rodriguez (6) and Jessica Onyepunuka (3) have a combined nine outdoor All-America honors between them. Over the last four seasons, they have teamed together to help USC capture and NCAA West Regional title (2006), the Pac-10 4x100m title three consecutive times and a third-place finish in the 4x100m race at the NCAA Championships in each of the last two seasons. Rodriguez and Oneypunuka were the first and second-place finishers respectively in the 100m and 200m dashes at both the 2006 and 2007 Pac-10 and NCAA West Championships. This year as Rodriguez battled through a sore hamstring at the Pac-10 Championships, Onyepunuka and Rodriguez finished third and sixth in the 100m and fourth and seventh in the 200m respectively, but bounced back at the Regional with Onyepunuka taking first in the 100m and Rodriguez tops in the 400m.
BUSA AND WHITE ENJOYING PARALLEL SUCCESS - New Trojan javelin specialists freshman Kristine Busa and redshirt junior Corey White wasted little time in making their marks at USC. First they both started the season with the thirdfarthest throws in school history and then at the Trojan Invitational on March 22, they both had the second-farthest throws in school history. Busa threw the javelin 169-7 (51.70m), trailing only Inga Stasiulionylte's school record of 186-10 (56.95) set in 2002. It is also the 11th-best collegiate throw this season and she is one of two freshman in the top 11. At that same meet, White flung the javelin 241-8 (73.66m) only three feet short of Nils Fearnley's school record of 244-8 (74.58m) set in 1995. He then set the school record with his throw of 256-10 (78.29m) in winning the javelin competition on April 5 at the Texas Relays and bettered that with a throw of 267-10 (81.65m) to win at Mt. SAC on April 20..White won the Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional javelin titles, while Busa placed fifth in the javelin at both the Pac-10s at the NCAA West Regional.
NELLUM REDSHIRTS - Freshman Bryshon Nellum the 2007 Gatorade National Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year was expected to play a big role in USC's 2008 track and field season but was forced to redshirt this season. Nellum ran the third leg of of the 4x100m relay on March 1 at the Trojan Relays and had to pull up with a hamstring injury and has not run since. Nellum finished his senior year at Long Beach Poly ranked No. 1 in both the 200m and 400m dashes among prep competitors nationally, owning the fastest time throughout the season. He won both events at the California state meet to become the first athlete in the track-rich state to ever win both the 200m and 400m at the state level two years in a row. In the process, he broke a 20-year-old California state record in the 200m (20.43). Nellum also picked up two more gold medals during the state meet as a member of the 4x100m and 4x400m relay team, the second time ever that an athlete has won four gold medals in the Division I state finals, the last time happening 91 years ago. The six total gold medals in his career at the California state meet also set a new state record.
PAC-10 ATHLETES OF THE WEEK - Zsofia Erdelyi (April 14-20), Carol Rodriguez (April 28-May 4) and Corey White (March 31-April 6 and April 14-20) have been named Pac-10 Athletes of the Week this season.
ERDELYI SETS USC WOMEN'S STEEPLECHASE MARK - Freshman Zsofia Erdelyi set the USC record in the 3000m steeplechase when she ran 10:11.32 at Mt. SAC on April 18 to finish second overall and tops among college runners. It was her first steeplechase at USC and it beat the old school record of 10:14.51 set by Julia Budniak in 2004. Erdelyi's time bettered her previous PR of 10:13.17 set in the Fall of 2006 while she was still in high school in Hungary. She then placed fourth in the event at the Pac-10 Championships and broke her school record in the event while finishing second at the NCAA West Regional with a time of 10:03.73. Erdelyi now has the school record in the steeplechase, ranks third all-time at USC in the 5000m (16:36.66) and fourth all-time at USC in the 3000m race (9:33.29).
WELCOME BACK WIJESEKARA - Redshirt sophomore Manjula Wijesekara competed outdoors in the high jump for USC for the first time since the 2005 NCAA Championships and won the Mt. SAC high jump competition on April 18 at a height of 7-3 3/4 (2.23m). That jump ranks as the fourth best by a college high jumper this season. Wijesekara had missed the last two seasons due to an injury in 2006 (achilles) and an illness in the family in 2007. The native of Sri Lanka jumped 7-4 1/2 as a freshman in 2005 which ranks third on USC's all-time list. Wijesekara placed second at the 2008 NCAA West Regional with a jump of 7-2 1/4 (5.19m).
SMOOTH AS SOLOMON - Senior Duane Solomon placed second in the men's Invitational 800m race at Mt. SAC on April 20 with a time of 1:47.33, .15 seconds behind former Washington Husky star Ryan Brown. Solomon finished seventh at the 2007 NCAA Championships in the 800m race. Solomon, who routinely jumps to the front of the pack, has a PR of 1:45.69 set at the 2007 USA Outdoor Championships to place third. That time is the second fastest ever by a Trojan, trailing only Ibrahim Okash's 1:44.92 set in 1988. Solomon also ran into the USC record books in the 1500m with a time of 3:48.29 at the Dual Meet on May 3, good for ninth place. Solomon took second in the 800m race at the Pac-10 Championships with a time of 1:47.65 and second at the NCAA West Regional with a time of 1:48.52.
CLARKE CLEARING ALL HURDLES - Sophomore Shalina Clarke placed fifth in the women's Invitational 100m HH at Mt. SAC on April 20 as the only college runner with a time of 13.68. She had a PR of 13.13 on March 22 which is third all-time by a Trojan, trailing only Virginia Powell and Candice Davis. Clarke then came back to win the women's Olympic Development 400m IH with a time of 58.93. Her PR in the 400m IH is 57.78 set on April 28, 2007 which ranks sixth all-time by a USC female. Clarke shined at the Pac-10 Championships winning the women's 400m IH with a season-best time of 58.05, took third in the 100m HH with a time of 13.47, lead off USC's winning 4x100m relay effort and fourth-place finishing 4x400m team. In all, she helped contribute 31 of USC's 91 points in the team competition. Clarke then won the NCAA West Regional 100m HH with a time of 13.46 and ran on USC's second-place 4x100m and third-place 4x400m relay teams.
HUTCHINSON RETURNS FOR SENIOR SEASON - After redshirting last season, USC discus specialist Kate Hutchinson has returned to action for her senior season. Hutchinson is the USC record-holder in the discus with a throw of 189-5 (57.73m) set on May 6, 2006. In the 2006 season, she place second in the discus at the Pac-10 Championships and won the discus at the NCAA West Regional which earned USC a tie for the team title. So far this season, Hutchinson has a best discus throw of 178-1 (54.29m) set on April 25 at the UCSD Triton Invitational. She also threw 172-4 (52.54m) on April 11 when she won the discus competition at the UCLA Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invite. Hutchinson placed fifth in the discus at the Pac-10 Championships with a throw of 174-5 and sixth at the NCAA West Regional with a mark of 165-7.
TAYLOR LOOKS TO HURDLE INTO TOP 10 - Senior Logan Taylor is taking aim at the Trojans' top 10 in the 110m high hurdles this season. He ran a 13.73 to place second in the Olympic Development race at Mt. SAC on April 20 and then set a new PR with a time of 13.69 on April 26 at the CSULA Tiny Lister Invitational. His previous best had been 13.71 in winning the 2007 USC-UCLA Dual Meet 110m HH competition. Taylor needs to run a 13.66 to tie for 10th place on USC's all-time list. Taylor qualified for the NCAA Championships by placing fifth at the West Regional with a time of 13.84.
SANFORD RETURNING TO FORM - Redshirt senior Michelle Sanford tweaked her jumping approach last season by taking off with her opposite leg and is starting to see results. She has a season-best triple jump of 43-1 1/2 (13.14m) on May 3 at the USC-UCLA Dual Meet. Her PR of 43-9 1/4 (13.34m) was set as a freshman on May 15, 2004 and ranks third all-time at USC. She won the women's University/Open long jump competition at Mt. SAC on April 20 with a leap of 20-3 1/2 (6.18m), a mark that matched her best jump of last season. She then long jumped 20-11 1/4 (6.38m) on May 3 at the Dual Meet. That jump would have been a new PR, but the wind reading was 2.9, the only jump in the entire 12-women competition that was reported high. Sanford ranks sixth all-time in the women's long jump at USC with a legal jump of 20-10 1/2 set in 2004. Sanford took sixth in the LJ and TJ at the Pac-10 Championships, then seventh in the LJ and sixth in the TJ at the West Regional.
KAI'S THE GUY - Senior hurdler Kai Kelley won the men's Invitational 110m high hurdles at Mt. SAC on April 20 with a wind-aided time of 13.51. It would have been a new PR, but the wind reading was 2.1 making it a non-legal mark. His PR in the 110m HH is 13.59 which ranks 8th all-time on the USC list. On April 19 at the Long Beach Invitational he had the top collegiate time and finished second overall with a wind-aided time of 13.64. At Mt. SAC on April 18, he won 400m IH with a blazing time of 50.82 and then ran the 10th fastest 400m IH in school history of 50.19 on May 3 at the Dual Meet. Kelley is also a valuable member of the 4x400m relay team and ran the anchor leg on May 17 at the Pac-10 Championships when USC had a season-best time of 3:05.35. Kelley also ran a new PR and eighth best all-time by a Trojan of 49.92 in the 400m IH at the Pac-10s to finish third. He also took second place in the 110m HH with a time of 13.85. Kelley continued to shine at the NCAA West Regional finishing second in both the 110m HH (13.74) and 400m IH (50.00).