USC Track And Field Hosts 72nd Annual Dual Meet On Saturday

April 26, 2005

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THE MEET

The USC men's and women's track teams host cross-town rival UCLA in the 72nd annual dual meet at Cromwell Field in Loker Stadium on Saturday, April 30, 2005. Competition begins at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, April 29, with the men's and women's hammer at West L.A. College. On Saturday, events begin at 11:00 a.m. with the women's pole vault, javelin and 5000m run. The men's 4x100 relay concludes the meet, with a start time of 3:45 p.m. The meet will be scored in the 5-3-1 format for individual events and 5-0 for relays. There are a total of 163 available points for each team and 82 points will clinch the meet. The winner of each meet will earn five points toward the Lexus Gauntlet, the all-sports contest between USC and UCLA. The meet will also feature the re-dedication of USC's 1936 Olympic Trees and the honoring of the 1955 and 1980 USC track and field teams.

TV

The USC-UCLA meet will be replayed as a two-hour show on FSN2 on three times: May 14 at 1 p.m., May 15 at 5 p.m. and May 17 at 3 p.m. John Ahlers, Tom Feuer, John Jackson and Sean Farnham will be the announcers.

RANKINGS

According to the April 26 Trackwire rankings, the Trojans are tied for sixth nationally with Arizona State and the UCLA men are tied for 19th with Dartmouth, North Carolina, Georgia and Oklahoma. The Women of Troy are ranked ninth and the UCLA women are fifth.

THE SERIES

The USC men lead the overall series with UCLA, 39-32. However, the last three men's meets held at Loker Stadium have been decided by a single point (the Bruins won 82-81 in 1999, the Trojans won 82-81 in 2001 and the Bruins won 82-81 in 2003). USC's win in 2001 snapped UCLA's 22-year win streak in the dual meet. The UCLA women have won 12 straight against USC and lead the overall series 18-3. The Women of Troy's last victory over the Bruins was in 1992, 80-30 at Drake Stadium.

LEXUS GAUNTLET

The winner of each USC-UCLA track meet (men's and women's) scores 5 points towards the Lexus Gauntlet, a trophy awarded annually to the school with the most successful athletic year against the other. Points are awarded to the winner of each Trojan-Bruin head-to-head contest and the Lexus Gauntlet will be awarded to the school with the most points at year's end. The Southern California Lexus Dealer Association is the title sponsor of every USC-UCLA athletic competition. This is the first time the two universities have partnered with a corporate entity for complete rivalry sponsorship. In 2001, the schools signed a 4-year contract of undisclosed terms with Lexus, America's best-selling luxury automotive manufacturer. USC captured the inaugural trophy in 2001-02, UCLA won it in 2002-03 and USC recaptured it last year. Currently with three regular-season events remaining, UCLA leads this season's Lexus Gauntlet competition, 55-40 (men's golf points will be determined on April 27).

1936 OYLMPIC TREE DEDICATION

A pair of oak trees that were presented to some of USC's gold medal winners at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games will be rededicated in a ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 30, in Associates Park on the USC campus. Oak seedlings were given to each gold medallist at the 1936 Summer Olympics to take home to their respective countries to plant and spread the Olympic message. Of the 24 gold medals won by U.S. athletes in 1936, only six oak trees are known to still exist in this country. Two of these oak seedlings were planted in USC's Associates Park, between the Bovard Administration Building and the Physical Education Building. The tree given to Ken Carpenter, USC's 1936 gold medal discus thrower, still grows there. However, the oak from the victorious 4x100-meter relay team, which included USC students Foy Draper and Frank Wykoff, died of root rot in 2002 and has been replaced by a mature oak of the same variety. A new plaque, with the names of the four members of the relay team, is now at its base. Because Jesse Owens, who along with Ralph Metcalfe was a member of that 4x100 relay team, won three other oaks at the 1936 Games, the team decided to award the oak seedlings to the two USC members. The rededication of USC's two oak trees is being co-sponsored by USC men's and women's track and field program, the USC Division of Student Affairs, the USC Black Alumni Association and the Skull and Dagger Society.

LAST YEAR'S MEET

The UCLA men defeated the Trojans, 111-52 at Drake Stadium, while the UCLA women defeated the Women of Troy in a much closer competition, 93-70.

2004 QUALIFIERS

The following USC athletes have qualified for NCAA West Regionals:

Trojan Men: Marvin Anderson (200m), Raphael Asafo-Agyei (800m), Tomasz Babiszkiewicz (800m), Inman Breaux (Triple Jump), Noah Bryant (Shot Put, Hammer), William Denbo (Shot Put), Sheldon Evans (400m IH), Wes Felix (200m), Phillip Francis (100m), Blake Frazier (110m HH), Jeff Garrison (200m, 400m), Anthony Heckman (800m), Kai Kelley (110m HH), Larry Lionel (400m), Adam Midles (Hammer Throw), Dennis Rice (Javelin), Allen Simms (Long Jump, Triple Jump), Duane Solomon (800m), Kenneth Thomas (110m HH), Patrick Wetzel (400m), Manjula Wijesekara (High Jump), Jesse Williams (High Jump) and both the 400m and 1600m relay teams.

Women of Troy: Melissa Astete (Pole Vault), Brittani Bernhard (Pole Vault), Candice Davis (100m HH), Leslie Erickson (Javelin), Katie Hutchinson (Discus) Shannon Lewallen (Pole Vault), Andrea McBride (Javelin), Jessica Onyepunuka (100m, 200m), Virginia Powell (100m HH), Carol Rodriguez (100m, 200m), Julia Rozenfeld (Hammer), Treani Swain (800m), Tracee Thomas (400m), Iryna Vashchuk (1500m), Alexis Weatherspoon (100m) and the 400m relay team.

2005 MEN'S TRACK AND FIELD

The Trojan men finished fourth at the Pac-10 Championships last season. USC then was second at the NCAA West Regionals, scoring 82 points (UCLA had 141), and Allen Simms won the long jump and triple jump. Junior Phillip Francis won the 100m and junior Wes Felix brought home the 200m crown at the regionals. However, two weeks later the Trojans finished with a disappointing tie for 60th at NCAAs in Austin, Texas. This season, the Trojans are well equipped and looking to make a strong statement at the dual meet, Pac-10s and NCAAs. The team has progressed and, despite a number of injuries, the Trojans have solid depth and balance going into the final few meets of the season. For the first time in school history, USC has two 7-4 high jumpers (currently ranked 3rd nationally) on the same roster. Junior Jesse Williams, who soared 7-5 to win the 2005 NCAA Indoor high jump crown in March, and freshman Manjula Wijesekara, a 2004 Olympian from Sri Lanka, will help lead USC in the field competition. The Trojans can also expect points from senior Allen Simms, the best horizontal combo jumper in the country. Simms' marks are first in the nation in the triple jump (54-8 1/2) and third in the long jump (25-9 ¼). On the track, the Trojans have the fastest 4x100m relay unit in the country, running 38.89 at the Mt. SAC relays to put them third on the USC all-time list, the school's fastest time since 1980. The men's mid-distance squad is a pillar of strength for USC this season, knocking on the top 10 charts with the top three 800m runners all under 1:49. This team, with its great mix of youth and experience, has the potential to be head coach Ron Allice's strongest NCAA squad in over a decade.

RANDOM MEN'S NOTES

ONE 'FOUR' ALL AND ALL FOR 'RUN'

USC's 4x100m relay team is the strongest unit in the country and is reminiscent of USC's storied sprinting past. Junior Phillip Francis, senior Wes Felix, freshman Lionel Larry and senior Marvin Anderson ran USC's fastest time in 25 years --38.89-- at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 17 (Kevin Williams, Billy Mullins, James Sanford and Mike Stanford hold the school record in the event, set Feb. 23, 1980 at 38.69). USC's solid sprinting corps is lead by 200m Pac-10 leader Marvin Anderson. His season-best 20.36 set at Mt. SAC is the second best time in the nation to date. All-American sprinter Wes Felix, the 200m Pac-10 and West Region champ in 2004, is also enjoying a strong senior season. Felix is fifth in the Pac-10 (12th in the nation) in the 200m at 20.80 and is looking for a strong performance at the dual meet. In addition to being an integral part of the nation's best relay team, freshman standout Lionel Larry also leads the Trojans in the 400m at 46.18 (fifth in Pac-10 and 10th in the nation). Phillip Francis, who was struck by injury last year, is in great shape this season. He's coming off a personal-best 10.33 in the 100m at the Mt. SAC Relays and is third in the Pac-10 (15th in the nation).

JUMPING HIGH

There is no better or more consistent duo of vertical jumpers in the county than junior All-American Jesse Williams and freshman Manjula Wijesekara. For the first time in USC history, the Trojans have two 7-4 jumpers on the same roster. Williams soared 7-5 in Fayetteville, Ark. on March 12 to become the first Trojan to ever win the NCAA indoor high jump crown. He has continued to excel in outdoor competition at the Stanford Invitational on March 26, when he jumped his personal-best 7-4 ½, four inches higher than the second-place finisher, and his mark is currently third in the nation. Since Stanford, Williams has jumped consistently and he has the opportunity to be the first Trojan to ever win the men's NCAA indoor and outdoor high jump crown in the same season and only the second Trojan in 45 years to win an outdoor high jump crown (Dawid Jaworski won the title in 2003 with his 7-5 ¾ jump). In his first year at Troy, Wijesekara has made himself right at home. He already broke the 25-year-old USC freshman record in the high jump (7-2 ½ set by Anthony Caire at the UCLA dual meet May 1, 1982) with his season-best 7-4 ½ jump at the Mt. SAC Relays. Wijesekara is the Sri Lankan national junior record holder with a best of 7-5 ¼. He participated in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where he placed 10th in the qualifying rounds.

MIGHT AS WELL KEEP JUMPING

Senior All-American Allen Simms is the third member of USC's outstanding jumping triad and is the nation's most intimidating horizontal jumper. His 24-8 ¼ mark in the triple jump is first in the nation and he's ranked third in the long jump with his season-best 25-9 ¼ set at the CSUN 8 Way on April 2 (where he won both the long and triple jump). Simms, who holds the USC and Pac-10 triple jump records, was the 2004 Pac-10 triple jump champion and NCAA West Region champ in both events and is looking to defend his titles this season. In 2003, he set the USC and Pac-10 record in the triple jump, leaping 56-7 ½ to become the first Trojan ever to win the NCAA Indoor triple jump title. That same year, Simms set the USC outdoor triple jump record with a winning jump of 56-4 at the UCLA dual meet (at Loker Stadium). Simms has accumulated just about ever honor in the book but has his eyes set on the ones he doesn't have - the NCAA outdoor triple and long jump crowns.

FOUR SCORE...

While USC is known for its incredible sprinters, it's the Trojan mid-distance runners that are the backbone of this year's track team. Led by freshman Duane Solomon, three Trojans have marks that are among the top five in the Pac-10. Solomon currently leads all other Pac-10 runners in the 800m with his personal-best 1:47.84 (currently seventh nationally and just ticks outside the USC top-10) set at the Stanford Invitational on March 26. Sophomore Raphael Asafo-Agyei, originally from Ghana, also broke his personal record at Stanford, running 1:48.53 (his mark is 13th in the nation), after redshirting his freshman year due to injuries. Also for the Trojans, senior Anthony Heckman brings experience and leadership to the young group. A solid 800m runner throughout his collegiate career, Heckman's broke his personal record at the Mt. SAC Relays with a second-place mark of 1:48.93, good enough for fifth in the Pac-10 and 18th in the nation. Rounding out the deep corps, junior Tomasz Babiszkiewicz is one of the best 1500m runners in the country. Babiszkiewicz continued to shave time off his personal record in the 1500m at the Mt. SAC Relays, where he ran 3:43.41 to finish second in the invitational race (his time is seventh in the Pac-10 and ninth nationally). He won his first 800m event at the CSUN Invitational in March, running 1:53.54. A native of Poland, Babiszkiewicz finished second in the 1500m at the European Championships while in high school.

DR. WHITE HELPS RECOVER TROJAN HURDLERS

Dr. Tommy White is in his first season back coaching the men's and women's hurdlers. He coached hurdles for the Trojans back in the 1980s. Since his return, Dr. White's presence has been evident in the improved performances of the Trojan hurdlers, with three top 10 marks in the Pac-10. Junior short hurdler Blake Frazier, who finished sixth at the Pac-10 Championships last season, has the opportunity to score some big points at the dual meet. Since training with Dr. White, Frazier has improved his PR from 14.28 to 13.87, with a season-best time of 13.78w (second in the Pac-10). Freshman Kai Kelley is also having a strong season under Dr. White and has added depth to the hurdles unit with his 14.24w in the 110m hurdles. Senior Kenneth Thomas has been consistent this season and is looking for a big performance at the dual meet.

2005 WOMEN'S TRACK AND FIELD

Last season, the Women of Troy scored 111 points to finish third at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships, behind team champion UCLA (174.5) and Stanford (153). At the NCAA West Regionals, the Women of Troy finished second (79 points) to UCLA (141 points) and had seven athletes in eight events automatically qualify for NCAAs. Senior Iryna Vashchuk won the 1,500m title. Two weeks later, USC scored 18 points to finish 12th at the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas. This year, the Trojans are led by junior All-American hurdler Virginia Powell. She won the 60m crown at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships in March and has one of the country's top outdoor times in the 100m hurdles. Sophomore Candice Davis is also having a solid season, with a personal-best 13.13w in the 100m HH and 1:01.69 in the 400m IH. The Women of Troy sprinting core is young, but talented. Freshman Jessica Onyepunuka just won the 100m at the UCSD Triton Invitational and her season best 11.53w continues to lead all Trojans in the event (tied for third in Pac-10). Onyepunuka is also strong in the 200m. Also look out for senior Alexis Weatherspoon, and freshmen Carol Rodriguez and Jasmine Lee in the sprints. In the mid-distance area, sophomore Treani Swain and senior Gina Clayton can score points and will lead the Trojans in the 800m on Saturday. Senior Iryna Vashchuk is having another solid season and currently leads the Pac-10 in the 1500m after running 4:17.08 in the invitational race at the Mt. SAC Relays. On the field, the Women of Troy jumpers have been plagued by injuries this season. Look for the pole vaulters, led by sophomore Brittani Bernhard, to come out strong at the dual meet after struggling at the UCSD Triton Invitational last Saturday (April 23). Sophomore Julia Rozenfeld has been consistent in the hammer and is looking for her best performance of the season at the dual meet. Overall, the team is young and talented.

RANDOM WOMEN'S NOTES

WORLD-CLASS HURDLERS

USC junior and 2005 NCAA indoor 60m hurdles champ Virginia Powell leads the Women of Troy hurdlers unit this season. In March, Powell ran 7.97 to win the 60m crown in Fayetteville, Ark., to mark the 130th individual crown in school history. Powell was also the 2004 Pac-10 champion in the 100m and a 2003 All-American in the 100m HH. Under the tutelage of Dr. White, Powell has continued to shave time off her solid 100m HH mark this outdoor season. On March 27, she ran a world-best 12.95 in the event and two weeks later, she ran another season-best 12.70w. At the Mt. SAC Relays, Powell competed against the top hurdlers in the country in the 100m HH invitational race and continued her domination by running a personal-best 12.75 for second place (first in Pac-10), finishing just a hair behind world-class Nike runner Perdita Felicien (12.73). Powell is first on USC's all-time best list in the event. Dr. White has also helped sophomore Candice Davis improve her hurdling techniques. Davis, who had a solid freshman season and an outstanding off-season, has improved her personal-best mark from 13.93 to 13.14 (set in the invitational race at the Texas Relays). Her mark is tied for second on USC's all-time list and is second to Powell in the Pac-10; her 1:03.03 mark in the 400m IH is 12th in the Pac-10. Also for the Trojans, freshman Talia Stewart (2004 California State champ in 100m HH and 300m IH) and junior Tunisia Johnson (seventh on USC's all-time list) are solid competitors in the 400m IH. Stewart's 1:02.15 is sixth in the Pac-10 and Johnson's 1:02.38 is eighth; UCLA has marks in the fourth and seventh positions so the 400m IH should be a close race.

MID-DISTANCE...TAKE IT AWAY

Sophomore Treani Swain is having an excellent season in the 800m. As a freshman, she finished sixth in the Pac-10 with a time of 2:10.15. This season, Swain ran a personal best 2:07.96 in the 800m at the Mt. SAC Relays to become 10th on USC's all-time best list and fourth in the Pac-10. Senior Gina Clayton, who finished eighth at the 2004 Pac-10 Championships, is also solid in the 800m with a season-best 2:09.91 (12th in the Pac-10). The Trojans could do well in this event at the dual meet.

DISTANCE

Senior All-American Iryna Vashchuk, the 2004 Pac-10 and NCAA West Regionals 1500m champion, continues to dominate the 1500m in her senior season. Vashchuk, a native of Kiev, Ukraine, is second on the USC all-time best list with her personal-record 4:12.79 time. Vashchuk's season-best 4:17.08 (finished fourth in invitational race at Mt. SAC Relays) currently leads all Pac-10 marks. She also excelled in the 5000m at the Stanford Invitational, qualifying for NCAA Regionals with a time of 16:28.71 (seventh in the Pac-10). Look for Vashchuk to attempt to continue her domination in the 1500m this weekend.

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE HANDOFF...

The Women of Troy have dominated the Pac-10 in both the 400m and 1600m relays this season. Powell, Rodriguez, Weatherspoon and Onyepunuka tore it up at the Texas Relays, running a season-best 43.82 to win the 4x100m competition. Their time is the fastest in the Pac-10 and the fourth-best in the nation. The mark moves the group to eighth on the USC all-time best list. The Women of Troy also have a solid 4x400m relay unit led by sophomore Tracee Thomas, whose 52.99 in the 400m is sixth on the USC all-time list. At the Texas Relays, Thomas, Lee, Swain and Rodriguez ran a season-best 3:33.78 to finish fifth in event. The performance is the eighth-best time in USC history and leads all other Pac-10 marks by more than a second.

THROWERS

Sophomore Julia Rozenfeld, a native of Gorky, Russia, is the USC freshman record holder in the hammer and also finished 10th in the event at the 2004 NCAA Championships. Rozenfeld's personal-best 203-1 throw at the Ben Brown Invitational (March 12) is currently third in the Pac-10. Rozenfeld is consistent in her throwing this season and is looking for her best performance this weekend at the dual meet. While she has won many events this season, Rozenfeld threw 189-5 to finish second to UCLA's Jessica Cosby's 206-11 last Friday (April 22) at the UCSD Triton Invitational. Friday's hammer competition at West LA College should be a good one. The Trojans have also been strong in the javelin competition this season. Senior Leslie Erickson's season-best and regional qualifying 148-9 throw (fifth at Texas Relays) is currently the eighth best mark in the Pac-10. Sophomore Andrea McBride also qualified for NCAA Regionals at the Texas Relays, throwing a season-best 145-6 (10th in the Pac-10). In the discus, sophomore Kate Hutchinson threw a season-best 165-10 at the Stanford Invitational (ninth in the Pac-10) and McBride just threw a personal-best 150-8 at the CSUN 8 Way (April 2).

VAULTERS

So far this season, the Women of Troy pole vaulters have been solid but are looking to break out this weekend against the Bruins. Sophomore Brittani Bernhard is enjoying a solid season and currently leads all other Trojan vaulters after winning the pole vault competition at the Mt. SAC Relays with a personal-best 12-11 ½ jump (11th in the Pac-10). While senior Melissa Astete has been consistent this season, she has not jumped within six inches of her 12-11 ½ PR all season. Astete and junior Shannon Lewallen currently are tied at 16th in the Pac-10 with their season-best 12-5 ½ marks. Freshman Jessica Luna rounds out the group with a personal-best 11-11 ¾ (25th in the Pac-10).

DIRECTOR OF TRACK AND FIELD Ron Allice

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, USC track and field has re-emerged as a force on the collegiate scene thanks to the work of 11th-year Director of Track and Field Ron Allice and his coaching staff. Under the guidance of Allice and company, the Trojan men went on a run of seven consecutive top 10 finishes--a feat last accomplished during the late 1960s and early 1970s under Vern Wolfe--from 1994-2000 and have won three Pac-10 titles in the last seven years. The hallmark of an Allice team is balance--after all, the sport he coaches is called track and field--and his tenure has been marked by squads that have been able to compete for championships at the national, conference and dual meet level. In 2003, his men's team won the Pac-10 championship (though it was later forced to relinquish the title due to an ineligible athlete) and placed third at the NCAA meet. The year before, his young men's team finished third in the Pac-10 and tied for 11th at the NCAAs. The previous season--2001--the Trojans were 12th at the NCAA meet and 2nd in the conference, while snapping crosstown rival UCLA's dual-meet win streak at 22. The seven seasons prior to 2001, Troy finished no lower than seventh at the NCAAs (including three top-5 finishes) and won three Pac-10 titles. During his tenure, Trojan men have won seven NCAA individual titles, garnered All-American acclaim 67 times and set six school records--not an easy task considering the glorious track and field history at USC.

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