USC Men's Track Team Wins NCAA West Regional Title, While Women Finish Fourth

May 28, 2005

The USC men's track and field team, behind Wes Felix's victories in the 100 and 200 meters, won the 2005 NCAA West Regional title, while the Women of Troy used victories by high hurdler Virginia Powell and its 400-meter relay squad to finish fourth on Saturday (May 28) at Eugene, Ore.

The Trojan men, who withstood a lightning delay late in the meet that lasted an hour and forty minutes, scored 103 points to capture their first-ever NCAA West Regional championship after finishing second in the first two meets in 2003 and 2004. Oregon was second with 87.5 points.

USC's women, second in 2004 and third in 2003, scored 63 points. Stanford won the 2005 crown with 110.5 points, followed by UCLA (85) and Arizona State (74).

Based on their performances at the two-day NCAA West Regional, the Trojans automatically qualified athletes for 22 places (12 men's and 10 women's) at the NCAA Championships, to be held June 8-11 in Sacramento, Calif. The Trojan men might gain another seven spots through an at-large process.

The top five finishers from each of this weekend's four regional individual events (and the top three in each relay) automatically advanced to the NCAA meet. 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).

Felix, a senior who was the 2005 Pac-10 champion in the 100 meters, won the NCAA West Regional 100 in a legal 12.81 and an hour later defended his 2004 NCAA West Regional crown in the 200 meters by running a legal 20.58, his season-best.

Powell, the 2005 NCAA Indoor 60-meter high hurdles champion who won the 100 and the 100 highs at the 2005 Pac-10 meet, won these highs in 12.81, aided by a barely-legal wind of +1.9. Her time was just .01 off her meet-record time in Friday's prelims and wasn't far off her USC record of 12.74. Powell, a junior, isn't competing in the flat 100 in the NCAAs.

The quartet of Powell, freshman Jessica Onyepunuka, junior Tracee Thomas and junior Alexis Weatherspoon propelled the 2005 Pac-10 champion Women of Troy's 400-meter relay team to victory in an NCAA West Regional record 44.03.

Weatherspoon also earned NCAA meet berths by finishing fourth in both the 100 (in a legal 11.71) and 200 (in a wind-aided 23.28 to equal a career best), while Onyepunuka advanced to the NCAA 100 by running fifth in 11.75.

Powell will be joined in the high hurdles at the NCAA meet by sophomore Candice Davis, who clocked 13.25 to place fourth.

Phillip Francis, a junior who won the 100 at last year's NCAA West Regional, was third in that race this year in 10.50 and moves on the NCAA meet with Felix. Trojan junior Garry Jones placed sixth in the race at 10.61, so he'll have to wait to see if he gets an at-large bid to the NCAAs.

The Trojan men's 400-meter relay squad (Jones, Felix, Francis and junior Jeff Garrison) ran second in 39.43 to qualify for the NCAAs.

Junior Iryna Vashchuk, the 2005 Pac-10 champion in the 1500 meters, didn't defend her 2004 NCAA West Regional title in that race, but comfortably advanced to the NCAA meet by finishing third in 4:20.06.

Her Trojan male counterpart in the 1500, junior Tomasz Babiszkiewicz, must wait to see if he makes the NCAAs after finishing sixth in 3:48.34.

Junior Blake Frazier placed second in the men's 110-meter high hurdles in a legal 14.09 to qualify for the NCAAs, but freshman Kai Kelly ran 14.28 for sixth and is a possible at-large selection for the NCAA meet.Freshman Jasmine Lee earned a ticket to the NCAAs by finishing fifth in the women's 400 meters in a season-best 53.77.

A pair of Trojans advanced to the NCAAs in the men's 800 meters: freshman Duane Solomon (third in 1:48.73) and sophomore Raphael Asafo-Agyei (fifth in 1:48.92).

The Women of Troy's 1600-meter relay squad (Thomas, Lee, sophomore Treani Swain and freshman Carol Rodriguez) finished second in 3:36.54 to clinch an NCAA meet invitation, but the Trojan men's quartet (Kelly, Garrison, junior Patrick Wetzel and Asafo-Agyei) came in fifth at 3:11.52 and has to hope for an at-large selection into the NCAAs.

Sophomore Adam Midles, the 2005 Pac-10 champion in the hammer throw, came in fifth in the event at 204-5 Saturday to gain entry into the NCAA meet.

Senior Allen Simms, competing in the meet's final event, just missed by three-fourths of an inch of defending his 2004 NCAA West Regional triple jump title, but still qualified for the NCAA meet by finishing second in a wind-aided 55-4 ¼, a season best. Simms, the 2004 and 2005 Pac-10 triple jump champion who won the event at the 2003 NCAA Indoors, passed on his last three jumps. That was similar to his strategy on Friday when he finished eighth in the long jump by going 24-3 ½ on his opening try. The 2004 NCAA West Regional long jump champ then fouled on his second long jump and passed his remaining four jumps, but will advance into the NCAA long jump as an at-large entrant because his 25-9 ¼ mark earlier this season is currently fourth best among U.S. collegians.

Senior Marvin Anderson ran sixth in the 200 meters in 21.44 and must wait to see if he gets an NCAA meet at-large bid.

The only Trojans who competed on Saturday but did not qualify for the NCAA meet were sophomore Katie Hutchinson in the women's discus throw (ninth at 157-5), plus senior Leslie Erickson and freshman Andrea McBride in the women's javelin throw (14th at 141-10 and 20th at 132-11, respectively).

On Friday, junior Jesse Williams won the NCAA West Regional high jump title with a 7-4 ½ leap. He also qualified Friday for the men's long jump at the NCAA meet by placing fifth (24-6 1/2). Also advancing to the NCAA meet on Friday were freshman Manjula Wijesekara in the men's high jump (he was third at 7-1) and sophomore Julia Rozenfeld in the women's hammer throw (she was third at 202-6), while sophomore William Denbo is a possible at-large NCAA meet entrant in the shot put (seventh at 59-11).

At last year's NCAA Championships, USC's women finished 12th and the men tied for 60th.

SATURDAY'S NCAA QUALIFIERS FOR USC:

Raphael Asafo-Agyei (men's 800 meters)

Candice Davis (women's 100-meter high hurdles)

Wes Felix (men's 100 meters, men's 200 meters)

Phillip Francis (men's 100 meters)

Blake Frazier (men's 110-meter high hurdles)

Jasmine Lee (women's 400 meters)

Adam Midles (men's hammer throw)

Jessica Onyepunuka (women's 100 meters)

Virginia Powell (women's 100-meter high hurdles)

Allen Simms (men's triple jump)

Duane Solomon (men's 800 meters)

Iryna Vashchuk (women's 1500 meters)

Alexis Weatherspoon (women's 100 meters, women's 200 meters)

Women's 400-meter relay (Virginia Powell, Jessica Onyepunuka, Tracee Thomas, Alexis Weatherspoon)

Men's 400-meter relay (Garry Jones, Wes Felix, Phillip Francis JeffGarrison)

Women's 1600-meter relay (Tracee Thomas, Jasmine Lee, Treani Swain, Carol Rodriguez)

Marvin Anderson (men's 200 meters)--possible at-large selection

Tomasz Babiszkiewicz (men's 1500 meters)--possible at-large selection

Garry Jones (men's 100 meters)--possible at-large selection

Kai Kelly (men's 110-meter high hurdles)--possible at-large selection

Men's 1600-meter relay (Kai Kelly, Jeff Garrison, Patrick Wetzel, Raphael Asafo-Agyei)--possible at-large selection

FRIDAY'S NCAA QUALIFIERS FOR USC:

Julia Rozenfeld (women's hammer throw)

Manjula Wijesekara (men's high jump)

Jesse Williams (men's high jump, men's long jump)

William Denbo (men's shot put)--possible at-large selection

Allen Simms (men's long jump)--possible at-large selection

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