Jesse Williams Wins High Jump At NCAA West Regional

May 27, 2005

USC junior Jesse Williams won the high jump and scored in the long jump on the first day of the NCAA West Regional at Eugene, Ore., on Friday (May 27), while many of his Trojan men's and women's teammates advanced to Saturday's (May 28) finals.

The top five finishers from each of the four regional individual events (and the top three in each relay) automatically advance to the NCAA Championships on June 8-11 in Sacramento, Calif. Also, up to eight more athletes per event who finished sixth through eighth in their regionals will advance via an at-large selection method based on season bests (they will be announced on May 30).

After six men's finals on Friday, the Trojan men are in fourth place with 23 points, trailing California (29), Stanford (27) and Arizona (25). With four women's finals concluded, the Women of Troy have 6 points for eighth place, with Stanford in first at 26.5 and UCLA, Washington and Arizona State tied for second with 21.

Williams, the 2005 NCAA Indoor champion who tied the USC record (7-5 ¾) earlier this month while winning the Pac-10 title, soared a meet-record 7-4 ½ to win the NCAA West Regional title. He is looking to become the first Trojan to win the NCAA indoor and outdoor high jump crowns in the same season.

Williams' high jump victory Friday almost didn't happen. Midway through his series of jumps after having cleared 7-1, he changed the spikes on his shoes to eliminate traction problems. While doing so, he inadvertently was passed in the jumping order by David Glasgow of California, who then cleared 7-2 ¼. Officials allowed Williams to re-enter the competition, but with the stipulation that he would get just one more attempt and the bar would be raised to 7-4 ½. He calmly and confidently cleared it to win.

After high jumping, Williams long jumped and finished fifth in a wind-aided personal best of 24-6 ½, earning a ticket to the NCAA meet in that event.

Williams' freshman teammate, 2004 Sri Lankan Olympian Manjula Wijesekara, also qualified for the NCAA meet by going 7-1 in the high jump for third place.

USC sophomore Julia Rozenfeld of Russia qualified for the NCAAs by placing third in the hammer throw at 202-6, just seven inches off her personal best.

Senior Allen Simms, who won the NCAA West Regional long jump crown in 2004, finished eighth this year after going 24-3 ½ on his opening try. He then fouled on his second jump and passed his remaining four jumps. But he will advance to the NCAA meet as an at-large entrant because his 25-9 ¼ mark earlier this season is currently fourth best among U.S. collegians.

Sophomore William Denbo place seventh in the shot put (good for two points) with a throw of 59-plus. He'll have to wait to see if he gets an at-large bid to the NCAA meet.

Prelims were held in 15 events on Friday, with a number of Trojans qualifying for Saturday's finals.

Junior Virginia Powell, the 2005 NCAA Indoor 60-meter high hurdles champion who won the 100 and the 100 highs at the 2005 Pac-10 meet, easily advanced to Saturday's final in the highs (she isn't competing in the flat 100). She won her heat in a legal meet-record 12.80, not far off her USC school record 12.74. That was the day's best time by two-tenths of a second.

Powell's sophomore teammate, Candace Davis, also advanced in the highs by placing third in that heat in 13.31.

The Trojan men sent a pair of 110-meter high hurdlers into Saturday's final: junior Blake Frazier won his heat in a legal 13.84 and freshman Kai Kelly was behind him in third in a season-best 13.99. Senior teammate Kenneth Thomas was seventh in the other heat (15.08), not good enough to move on. Thomas also failed to advance in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles after recording a 53.97 fourth place time in his heat.

The USC women's and men's 400-meter relay squads both won their heats to advance to Saturday's finals. The 2005 Pac-10 champion women's quartet (Powell, freshman Jessica Onyepunuka, junior Tracee Thomas and junior Alexis Weatherspoon) clocked the day's fastest time (44.37) by nearly half a second. The men (junior Garry Jones, senior Wes Felix, junior Phillip Francis and junior Jeff Garrison) had the day's second best time, 39.42.

USC's sole entrants in the women's and men's 1500 meters both advanced to Saturday's finals. Junior Iryna Vashchuk, the 2005 Pac-10 champion, will try to defend her 2004 NCAA West Regional title after running the day's top time (4:25.34) to win her heat. Junior Tomasz Babiszkiewicz was third in his heat (and third best among the 28 competitors in the event) in 3:45.88, good enough to move on.

All three of USC's entrants in the men's 100 meters advanced to Saturday's final. Felix, the 2005 Pac-10 100 champ, won his heat in a legal 10.53 and Francis, who captured the 100 at the 2004 NCAA West Regional, was second in 10.57. Jones was third in the other heat in 10.44.

Two of USC's three runners in the men's 800 meters advanced to Saturday's final: sophomore Raphael Asafo-Agyei clocked 1:50.30 for third in his heat (and third best in the 12-man field), while freshman Duane Solomon was second in his heat at 1:50.75. Senior Anthony Heckman failed to advance after going 1:52.17 in his heat.

Also qualifying for Saturday's finals: freshman Jasmine Lee in the 400 meters (third in her heat at 55.29), Weatherspoon and Onyepunuka in the 100 meters (they were second and third in the first heat in a legal 11.60 and 11.63, respectively), and Weatherspoon in the 200 meters (she ran a legal 23.60 for second in her heat).

USC's other competitors in finals who did not qualify for the NCAA meet: junior Dennis Rice in the javelin (196-11 for 12th place), senior Melissa Astete and freshman Brittani Bernhard in the pole vault (12-0 for a 20th place tie for Astete, while Bernhard no heighted), and junior Katarzyna Klisowska in the long jump (19-4 ¾ for ninth, just two inches out of eighth place)

USC's competitors in Friday's heats who did not advance to Saturday's finals were senior Gina Clayton and sophomore Treani Swain in the 800 meters (Clayton was third in her heat at 2:08.81 and Swain was fifth in her heat in 2:10.64), plus freshman Talia Stewart in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles (she was fifth in her heat at 1:02.71).

Meet results and updates are available at

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