USC's Track & Field Teams To Compete At NCAA West Regional In Eugene, Ore.

May 22, 2007

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2007 USC TRACK AND FIELD - The USC men's and women's track and field teams will be competing this weekend (May 25-26) at the NCAA West Regional being hosted by Oregon at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The top five finishers (top three in relay events) in each NCAA Regional as well as a group of 5-8 other athletes chosen from a pool of the next best seven finishers in each event from the four regionals will advance to the NCAA Championships.

TROJANS AT NCAA WEST REGIONAL - Both the USC's men's and women's teams won NCAA West Regional titles last year. The men pulled away from the field and outdistanced second-place finisher BYU 123-86.5, while the women tied for the title with Stanford at 94 points apiece. The women were able to tie for the title when Kate Hutchinson (redshirting in 2007) won the women's discus. The men have won the last two NCAA West Regional team titles.

RETURNING NCAA WEST REGIONAL CHAMPS - The Trojans have two men (Lionel Larry - 400m and Duane Solomon - 800m) and the 4x100m relay team returning to defend their titles. The USC women returning to defend their titles are Carol Rodriguez (100m and 200m), Eva Orban (hammer throw) and the 4x100m relay team.

TROJANS AT THE PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS - The USC men's team placed third and the women's team fourth at the Pac-10 Track and Field Championships hosted by Stanford May 12-13. The men scored 92 points on the final day, but could not make it all the way back to defend their title, scoring 110 points to finish behind Oregon (114) and Arizona State (111) in the closest Pac-10 finals ever. The women scored 107 points on the final day to end up with 113 points, behind Arizona State (158), Stanford (134.33) and UCLA (118.5).

TROJANS WITH TOP MARKS - USC men's team comes into the NCAA West Regional meet with the top entered mark in the 200m, 400m, 800m, 4x400m, shot put and hammer. The Women of Troy have posted the best mark in the West Regional in the following events: 100m, 200m, 100m HH and 4x100m. Juniors Carol Rodriguez and Jessica Onyepunuka respectively have the two fastest times in the 100m and 200m dashes in the regional.

TROJANS DOMINATING THE DASH - With Ahmad Rashad winning the men's 100m title and Carol Rodriguez winning the women's 100m crown at the Pac-10 Championships two weeks ago, it marked the sixth straight time a USC female has won the Pac-10 100m dash title, while a Trojan male has won the conference 100m title the last three seasons. A USC male sprinter has won the West Regional 100m title the last three seasons, while Rodriguez won the female 100m dash title last year.

LIGHTNING Lionel Larry - Junior Lionel Larry won the Pac-10 400m title on May 13 with a blazing time of 44.73, a new PR and the third-fastest time in USC history. He has continued to improve and win races all season long. Larry won the 400m race at the Pepsi Team Invitational on April 7 in Eugene, Ore. with a time of 45.67. He followed that up with his second consecutive Mt. SAC 400m Invitational win with a time of 45.72 on April 15. He then ran a 45.41 to win the USC-UCLA Dual Meet 400m race. His previous best this season had been 45.43 on March 17 at the Willie Williams meet in Tucson, Ariz. Larry also runs the anchor leg for USC's 4x400m relay team and led them to a win at the Pepsi Team Invitational, running down Washington's Alex Harcourt on the final leg to give the Trojans the victory and then closed out the Dual Meet win on April 28 with a strong final leg to provide the winning margin for the Trojans. He also anchored USC's 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams to Pac-10 titles.

UP NEXT - USC will compete at the 2007 NCAA Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif. hosted by Sacramento State at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex from June 6-9.

RETURNING ALL-AMERICANS - The Trojans have 10 returning student-athletes who qualified for All-American honrs during the 2006 track and field outdoor season: Candice Davis (100m HH, 4x100m), Jessica Onyepunuka (4x100m), Eva Orban (hammer), Carol Rodriguez (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Noah Bryant (shot), DaSean Cunningham (4x400m), Kai Kelley (4x400m), Lionel Larry (400m, 4x400m), Adam Midles (hammer) and Duane Solomon (800m).

SCHOOL OUTDOOR RECORD HOLDERS - Candice Davis (4x100m), Kate Hutchinson (discus)*, Jessica Onyepunuka (4x100m), Eva Orban (hammer), Carol Rodriguez (200m, 400m, 4x100m), Noah Bryant (shot) and Irek Sekretarski (mile). * redshirting

LATEST RANKINGS - In the latest Trackwire rankings (May 15), USC's men's team is ranked No. 4 and the women's team No. 10. In the latest USTFCCCA rankings (May 15), USC's men are ranked No. 4 and the women No. 11.

USC TRACK AND FIELD HISTORY - USC is well known as one of the most successful athletic programs in the history of the NCAA, with 106 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 - Esteemed Director of Track and Field Ron Allice is in his 13th 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. The last two seasons the Trojans were one of two schools to place both the men's and women's teams in the top 10 in the country. Under his guidance, the Trojan men's team has finished in the top 10 at the NCAA finals in nine of his 12 seasons, including a ninth-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 eight times in 12 seasons, including a second-place finish in 2006. 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 105 years of a rich and storied tradition.

TOP 12 TROJANS - Trojans Ahmad Rashad (6th - 100m, 6th - 200m), Lionel Larry (2nd - 400m), Duane Solomon (3rd - 800m), Logan Taylor (11th - 110 HH), Kai Kelley (12th - 400m IH), Noah Bryant (1st - shot), William Denbo (7th - shot), Adam Midles (5th - hammer), men's 4x100m relay team (11th), men's 4x400m relay team (6th), Jessica Onyepunuka (11th - 100m), Carol Rodriguez (9th - 100m, 6th - 400m), Candice Davis (3rd - 100m HH), Eva Orban (4th - hammer), women's 4x100m relay team (4th) all have posted collegiate marks that rank in the top 12 this season.

BRYANT HAVING QUITE A SENIOR SEASON - Senior Noah Bryant won the 2007 NCAA Indoor Shot Title with a then career-best throw of 67-5 1/4 (20.55m) to defeat the favorite Russ Winger of Idaho at the NCAA Indoor Championships held March 9-10 at the Randal Tyson Track Center in Fayetteville, Ark. Bryant's winning shot mark was nearly three feet farther than his previous career best and set a new USC indoor record and was better than any outdoor distance in school history. That is saying a lot, considering that USC has had numerous Olympic champions and world record-holders in the event, including Parry O'Brien, Dallas Long, Wilbur Thompson and Bud Houser. The redshirt senior becomes the first Trojan to win an NCAA shot title since Doug Lane won the 1972 indoor title with a throw of 64-3 1/2. Bryant's throw was farther than Lane's school-record outdoor shot of 66-11 1/4, which Bryant subsequently broke with his school-record throw of 67-5 1/2 (20.56m) on April 28 in winning the USC-UCLA Dual Meet. Bryant has continued his impressive comeback from a freak accident in 2005 which required major surgery after the hammer bounced off the cage and struck him in the face. Twice this season he was named Pac-10 Male Field Athlete of the Week (April 2-8 and April 23-29). He also won his second consecutive Pac-10 shot put title with a mark of 66-7 on May 12 at Stanford.

SENIOR DAVIS STEPPING UP - Senior Candice Davis joined Bryant in gaining Indoor All-America honors with a fourth-place finish in the indoor finals of the women's 60m hurdles, posting a time of 8.05. Davis was actually leading over the final hurdle, but stumbled and had to settle for fourth. Last season, she ran an 8.32 time to place eighth at the indoor championships. Davis ran a PR of 12.91 in the 100m HH on March 31. That mark improved her second-place standing on USC's all-time list. On April 15 at Mt. SAC, she ran a wind-aided time of 12.88 which at the time was the third-best time by a collegiate female this season. Davis also ran a career-best 11.54 100m dash on April 28 to take second at the USC-UCLA Dual Meet. Davis won the 100m HH, placed sixth in the 100m dash and was part of USC's winning 4x100m relay team at the Pac-10 Championships.

IN THE MIDLES OF SOMETHING SPECIAL - Trojan hammer thrower Adam Midles set a new career best in the hammer throw of 228-3 on April 27 to win the USC-UCLA Dual Meet hammer competition. He improved his fourth-place standing on USC's all-time hammer list and it marked the fourth time this season he has posted a new PR. Midles had a new PR in the hammer competition for three straight weeks (March 10-24). At the Ben Brown Invitational in Fullerton, Calif. on March 10, the senior had a throw of 221-7 to move into sixth place all-time on the USC hammer list. A week later at the Pacific Lutheran meet, he set a PLU stadium record with a new career-best throw of 225-2. Then March 24 at the Trojan Invitational, he had the fourth-best throw in school history of 226-6. Midles has already improved more than nine feet this season on his previous career-best throw. Midles has the fifth-farthest throw by a collegian this season. He placed third at the Pac-10 Championships in the hammer throw with a mark of 217-0.

WHAT CAN'T SHE DO? - Junior Carol Rodriguez has had an outstanding first three seasons with the Trojans. She already owns the USC school record in the 200m with a time of 22.23 and the 400m with a time of 51.51, a Puerto Rican national record. Rodriguez also sits atop the charts as part of USC's fastest 4x100m Relay Team of Virginia Powell, Jessica Onyepunuka, Candice Davis and Rodriguez which ran a school-record time of 42.96 last year at the NCAA Championships. Rodriguez also owns the seventh-fastest 100m time, running an 11.24 hand-held time on April 7 at the Pepsi Team Invitational. On April 28, Rodriguez ran her first 400m race of the season and won with a time of 51.90, the sixth-fastest time by a college female this season. Rodriguez again demonstrated her ability to garner gold at the Pac-10 Championships, winning the 100m and 200m races and anchoring the champion 4x100m relay team. She also ran the final leg for the 4x400m relay team which finished third.

HAMMER TIME FOR ORBAN - After a fantastic freshman season, one might wonder what is next for sophomore hammer thrower Eva Orban. Last season, she won the Pac-10 hammer title, the NCAA West hammer title and placed second at the NCAA Championships. Along the way, she established new USC, Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional hammer throw records, with a toss of 226-8 at the NCAA West Regional. The All-American from Papa, Hungary originally set the school record on May 14, 2006 at the Pac-10 Championships with a throw of 221-7, surpassing Julia Tudja at the top of the Trojan hammer chart. Orban had her top hammer throw of the 2007 season on April 15 at the Mt. SAC Invitational (219-9) and ranks fourth this season among NCAA women in the hammer. Orban just missed out on defending her 2006 Pac-10 hammer throw title when she threw 217-8 to place second at this year's championship, two inches short of Oregon's Britney Henry. So in her first four postseason hammer competitions (2 Pac-10s, 2006 NCAA West and 2006 NCAA Championships), Orban has finished no lower than second place.

SOLOMON SECOND AT PAC-10S - Junior Duane Solomon came up just short of defending his Pac-10 800m title when he ran a 1:47.94 and was caught down the stretch by Washington's Ryan Brown. Still, Solomon has posted the third-fastest 800m time among all NCAA runners with a time of 1:47.19, accomplished on April 15 at the Mt. SAC Relays. That was a new PR and moved him from 10th to 8th on USC's all-time 800m list.

WOODS YOU BELIEVE IT...? - Trojan freshman Shana Woods has wasted no time in establishing herself as a heptathlete to watch in just two competitions this season. Her 5,459 points scored to place fifth at the Pac-10s are the second most points scored by a freshman in 2007 and is one of just five freshman in the top 37 leading point-scorers this season. Woods became the first USC athlete to score in the Pac-10 Multi Events Championships since Spring Harris placed seventh in 2002. Woods' point total was her most as a Trojan and moved her from fourth to third on USC's all-time heptathlon list. Woods set the U.S. junior heptathlon record in 2006 with 5,533 points.

TAYLOR HURDLES INTO TOP 10 - Junior Logan Taylor won the Dual Meet 110 HH with a time of 13.71, good for 10th place on USC's all-time sprint hurdles list. In the last 10 years, the only other Trojan hurdler to crack the school's top 10 was Ryan Wilson (13.35 in 2003). His 13.71 time in the 110m HH ranks 11th in the country this season. Taylor placed fifth at the Pac-10 Championships with a time of 14.04.

TROJANS REACHING RARIFIED AIR - The women's team has posted 19 USC all-time top 10 marks this season, while the men's team has posted 11 performaces that rank among the school's all-time top 10. USC women posting a top 10 mark this season are: Carol Rodriguez (100m), Jessica Onyepunuka (100m), Natalia Kovtun (3000m, 3000m Steeplechase, 5000m), Oksana Milokumova (5000m), Daniela Gergley (5000m), Candice Davis (100m HH), Talia Stewart (100m HH, 400m IH), Shalina Clarke (100m HH, 400m IH), Shana Woods (LJ, Heptathlon), Marylin Anene (HJ), Lindsay Oman (Heptathlon), Chun Mei Nickles (Pole Vault), 4x100m Relay and 4x400m Relay. Men with top 10 performances this season are: Lionel Larry (400m), Duane Solomon (800m), Irec Sekretarski (1500m, 1 mile), Logan Taylor (110m HH), John Peate (3000m Steeplechase), Noah Bryant (Shot, Hammer), William Denbo (Shot), Stenn Parton (Javelin) and Adam Midles (Hammer).

ROCKET RASHAD - Trojan freshman Ahmad Rashad cruised to victory in both the 100m and 200m dashes at the Pac-10 Championships, winning the 100m with a wind-aided time of 10.20 and the 200m with a time of 20.56. It was the second straight season that a Trojan had captured the Pac-10 sprint double, as Philip Francis won both the 100m and 200m titles in 2006. Rashad won his third Pac-10 title by running the second leg of USC's 4x100m relay team that placed first with a season-best time of 39.66.

A SHOT OF GOLD - With USC great and 1948 Olympic gold-medal winning shot putter Wilbur Thompson at USC a few weeks ago and with the passing of Parry O'Brien, an interesting note was pointed out. The U.S. has won the men's shot put gold medal at the Olympics 11 times since 1924 and of those, five of the winners have been Trojans: Bud Houser (1924), Thompson (1948), O'Brien (1952 & 1956) and Dallas Long (1964).

ANOTHER SHOT NOTE - With Noah Bryant taking the lead on USC's all-time shot put list with a throw of 67-5 1/2 and William Denbo sitting sixth at 63-7 1/2 it marks a rare time at USC. Prior to the arrival of these two seniors, only one Trojan shot putter (Van Mounts in 2000) had even cracked USC's all-time top 10 since 1988.

DENBO MOVES INTO SIXTH PLACE ON USC'S SHOT PUT LIST - Redshirt senior William Denbo placed second to Noah Bryant in the shot put competition at the Pac-10 Championships on May 12 with a new PR of 63-7 1/2 (19.39m). That mark also moved Denbo from seventh to sixth on USC's all-time shot put list, passing Mike Budincich (63-5 3/4). Denbo's previous best shot put had come at the 2006 Pac-10 Championships with a mark of 62-6 3/4.

LONG-STANDING MARK GOES DOWN - Trojan junior transfer Irek Sekretarski of Poland set the USC one-mile run record with a time of 4:01.89 on April 15 at the Mt. SAC Relays. His time bettered Bruce Bess' old school mark of 4:02.0 which was set in 1966.

STAR IS RISING FOR BOTH ESTRADAS - Trojan sophomore pole vaulter Brandon Estrada has a season-best mark of 17-0 3/4 (5.20m) on April 14 at Mt. SAC to win the University/Open competition, less than 5 inches from cracking USC's all-time pole vault top 10. That may sound like a lot, but consider Estrada has improved more than one-foot and five inches this season over his best freshman mark. In fact, the jump at Mt. SAC was more than five inches higher than his previous career best, which he had set the previous week. Estrada is the son of actor Erik Estrada, who played the character Ponch on the wildly popular late `70s early `80s show CHiPs. Erik Estrada was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 19, 2007 (on the north side of Hollywood Blvd, between Sycamore and Orange streets).

INTERESTING BLOODLINES - Brandon Estrada is not the only Trojan track and field athlete with noteable family ties. Hammer thrower Brian Wilhelm is the son of Bruce Wilhelm, the first American to snatch 400 pounds, winner of the World's Strongest Man competition twice, an alternate on the 1972 Olympic Team in the shot put and a member of the 1976 U.S. Olympic Team in weightlifting. Tara and Kira Davis-Quarrie are the daughters of Trojan alumnus and Olympic gold-medalist Don Quarrie. Jumper Michelle Sanford is the daughter of James Sanford, the fastest Trojan ever (10.02 in the 100m dash). Triple jumper Aven Wright is the son of former San Francisco 49er Pro Bowl cornerback Eric Wright.

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