Trojan Men's Team Wins Pac-10 Title; Women's Team Places Third
May 14, 2006
Lionel Larry sprinted the Trojans to victory in the anchor leg of the winning 4x400m relay team to clinch the 2006 Pac-10 Championship for the men's track and field team, while the women's team had an amazing comeback day to finish third in the conference championship today (May 14) before more than 7,000 fans at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
'I've been in those situations before,' said Larry. 'That's what I live for. I feel like I could complete our meet. In meets they look to me in those situations (the anchor on the 1600m relay) and if it comes down to that, I'm ready. For the tragedy that happened this weekend with Ryan Francis, it doesn't get any better than to run the anchor leg of the 4x400m relay to win the meet.'
'The weekend started on a tragic note with the death of Ryan Francis and we fought through yesterday and got a lot of people qualified for today's finals,' said USC's Director or Track and Field Ron Allice. 'Things didn't start as we had hoped, but we battled back and finished with an exclamation point in winning the 4x400m relay. The significance is that there are two very storied programs in the history of track and field (USC and Oregon) and to win at this historic site in Oregon with their great support system and with their athletes performing well was very special.'
The men's team began the day in sixth place with 34 points, but were able to catch the field and went into the final event needing at least a third place finish to clinch the team's first Pac-10 Championship since 2000, also held at Hayward Field. USC took a 130 to 125.5 lead over Oregon into the final event, setting up the heroics from the Trojans' 4x400m relay team of Jeff Garrison, Philip Francis, De'Sean Cunningham and Larry. After breaking stride with about 200m left to go, Larry stormed back to pass the Oregon and Washington runners to win the meet in style with a season-best 3:05.74.
The USC women's team amassed 104 points on the day, after entering the day's competition tied for eighth with eight points. USC's total in the final day of the competition was more points than every other school scored for the entire meet, except for first place finisher Arizona (154) and second place Stanford (151.5). The USC men's and women's teams combined to tally 252 points, 21.5 points more than the next highest combined scoring team, host Oregon.
Hayward Field in Oregon seems to bring out the best in the Trojans as the men's team also won the 2005 NCAA West Region Championship here and the USC women's 2001 NCAA Championship was also hosted by Oregon.
Two Trojan females established USC records, as Eva Orban won the hammer competition and gained 10 points with a throw of 221-7 (67.53m), bettering Julianna Tudja's mark of 218-9 set in 2003 and Brysun Stately bettered her own school record (13-5 3/4) in the pole vault, clearing a height of 13-7 1/4 (4.15m) to finish fourth and earn five points. Julia Rozenfeld placed seventh in the hammer (195-5) to earn two points, Karen Freberg came in 10th (181-5) and Alexandrea Williams 15th (158-7). Shannon Lewallen placed tied for 15th in the pole vault, clearing 11-11 3/4.
Virginia Powell had another outstanding meet, winning her signature event the women's 100m high hurdles in a time of 12.68, her season's best and the fastest time in the world this season. Teammate Candice Davis earned eight points with a second place finish in the event with a time of 13.28.
Powell also became only the second three-time winner of the Pac-10 women's 100m dash title (2004-06), as she ran a career-best 11.10. That time is tied for the third best in school history and is the second fastest by a college female this season. She earned the Trojans 10 points in the event, Carol Rodriguez earned eight points as she finished third with a time of 11.40 and Jessica Onyepunuka four points with a time of 11.46 to take fifth.
'I was very pleased with how I ran this weekend as I was able to set PRs in both events,' said Powell.
That was not it for her, though, as she also ran the first leg in USC's winning 4x100m relay team, along with Onyepunuka, Davis and Rodriguez which earned 10 points with a winning time of 43.81, the 10th best time in school history. It was the second consecutive season that the Trojan's sprint relay team won the event and the sixth time in the last seven years they won the Pac-10 championship in the event.
Many of the Trojan women were wearing Ryan Francis' No. 12 painted on their face as a tribute to the Trojan point guard shot and killed over the weekend in his hometown of Baton Rouge, L.A..
'We were wearing the No. 12 to represent Ryan Francis,' said the three-time winner Powell. 'He was one of my good friends and he was good friends with a lot of people on the team. Jessica (Onyepunuka) suggested getting ribbons for our jerseys and I suggested painting his number or initials on our arms and face. The store didn't have any ribbon, so we just got the face paint and painted his number on our face in remembrance of Ryan.'
In an exciting men's 4x100m relay race, the Trojan team of Garry Jones, Matthew Palmer, Francis and Roy Alugbue placed second and earned eight points with a time of 39.82. Oregon's team, featuring three-sport star Jordan Kent on the anchor, was just able to edge the Trojans at the tape with a time of 39.74.
In the men's 110m high hurdles, Kai Kelley placed fourth to earn five points with a time of 14.02, while Blake Frazier injured his hamstring coming out of the blocks, but completed the course to get the point for eighth place.
Francis won the men's 100m dash, claiming the title of fastest man in the Pac-10 with a time of 10.25. Jones placed third with a time of 10.43. Francis won 10 points and Jones six in the event. Francis doubled up to win the 200m dash with a career-best time of 20.39, following his winning performance in the 100m race. His time was the fourth-fastest by a collegian this year and tied for fourth all-time on USC's men's 200m top 10. With his part in USC's winning 4x400m relay and second place finish in the 4x100m relay, the USC senior finished his final conference meet with three first place finishes and one second.
Defending NCAA champion Jesse Williams won his second consecutive Pac-10 men's high jump title clearing 7-4 1/2 (2.25m) to earn 10 points and Nathan Gwozdz placed fourth (6-8 3/4) to earn five points.
Rodriguez won the women's 200m dash with a wind-aided season best of 22.18, the third-fastest time by a female college runner this season. She earned USC 10 points and Onyepunuka earned three with a sixth place time of 23.90.
Duane Solomon and Raphael Asafo-Agyei finished one-two in the men's 800m with times of 1:48.30 and 1:49.07 respectively. Cunningham placed eighth after he tripped and fell at the beginning of the final lap, but got up and gave a supreme effort to get back in the race and finish just a split-second behind the sixth and seventh place finishers. Solomon (10), Asafo-Agyei (8) and Cunningham (1) earned USC 19 points.
Tunisia Johnson placed fifth in the women's 400m intermediate hurdles and earned the Trojans four points with a time of 1:01.58.
Kelley ran a personal best of 51.07 to finish third in the men's 400m IH and earn the men's team six points.
In the women's discus, school record-holder Kate Hutchinson placed second and earned eight points with a throw of 175-9 (53.57m). Noah Bryant competed in the discus for the USC men's team and placed 15th with a distance of 162-2 (49.42m).
Inman Breaux, who has been out of competition for weeks with an injury, shook off the rust and battled through the pain to place sixth in the triple jump and gain USC a valuable three points with a jump of 49-10 1/2 (15.20m).
Perhaps the scariest race of the day for the men's team was the 5000m race, the second to last event. USC had no runners entered and the two teams still within striking distance Oregon had six and Arizona three. Arizona took first and second and Oregon third, but none of their other runners scored and USC was able to maintain their lead entering the final event by 4.5 points over Oregon and 12 over Arizona.
Scoring for USC's men's team in the first day of the competition were Bryant (1st - 10 points) and William Denbo (3rd - 6 points) in the shot, Adam Midles (2nd - 8 points) and Bryant (5th - 4 points) in the hammer and Williams (3rd - 6 points) in the long jump.
Freberg scored the USC women's eight points in the first day of the Pac-10 Championships with a second place finish in the shot put competition.
'A lot of ghosts were awakened this weekend,' said coach Allice. 'People that have put on Oregon's jersey and people that have put on our jersey over the years, both have very distinguished alumni and I feel it will be talked about as a classic confrontation.'
'We didn't go all out on the women's side because we didn't want to stretch them too much here, added Allice. 'Our men are potentially a better dual meet and conference team and are women are championship contending team, however, if our men continue to build upon this effort, they too are a championship contending team.
Final Standing:Men: USC (140), Oregon (133.5), Arizona (122), Washington (99), UCLA (97.5), Arizona State (76), Stanford (60), California (53) and Washington State (37).
Women: Arizona State (154), Stanford (151.5), USC (112), UCLA (103), Oregon (97), California (76.5), Washington (41), Washington State (40), Arizona (37) and Oregon State (4).