USC Men's Team Takes First And Women's Team Second At NCAA West Regional

May 26, 2007

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USC's redshirt senior Noah Bryant won the shot put competition in the final event today (May 26) to earn the Trojans their third consecutive men's NCAA West Regional Track and Field Championship, in the meet hosted by Oregon at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The women's team used a stong final day to vault from tied for 21st to a second-place finish. Bryant is one of six USC male athletes and both relay teams to automatically qualify to the NCAA Track and Field Championships hosted by Sacramento State at Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento, Calif. on June 6-9. The women's team, led by juniors Carol Rodriguez and Jessica Onyepunuka, qualified four women and the 4x100m relay team automatically for the NCAA Championships.

The Trojan men's team began the day in 11th place with just six points, but won five events on the day and accumulated 77 points and catch second-place Oregon in the meets' final event, winning 83-75. The women's team won four events and totaled 74 points on the day to finish second to Arizona State, which scored 94 points. The USC men's and women's teams combined to score more than any other program at the meet.

The Trojan men's team has won its last three postseason meets held at Hayward Field, winning the 2005 NCAA West Regional, the 2006 Pac-10 Championship and the 2007 NCAA West Regional on Oregon's storied home track.

The top five finishers in each event (top three in relays) in each of the four NCAA Regionals that took place this weekend, 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. The final group of athletes qualifying for the NCAA Championships will be announced early next week.

The first Trojan men to take to the track on the day were freshman Jamere Holland, freshman Ahmad Rashad, junior Roy Alugbue and junior Lionel Larry and they ran a season-best 39.50 to win the men's 4x100m relay and earn 10 points. They also became automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships. It was the second consecutive 4x100m relay championship at the regional for USC, as last year's squad won with a time of 39.68.

Junior Kai Kelley took stage for the Trojans next, winning the men's 110m HH with a new PR of 13.63, good for eighth all-time on the USC sprint hurdles list. Junior Logan Taylor placed eighth with a time of 14.43. Together Kelley (10) and Taylor (1) earned the USC men's team 11 points.

Larry won his second straight NCAA West Regional 400m dash title with a time of 45.59. He automatically qualifies for the NCAA Championships and earned USC 10 points in the team competition.

Junior Duane Solomon placed second in the men's 800m race with a time of 1:49.69 and junior Raphael Asafo-Agyei placed third with a time of 1:50.57. Together the pair earned USC 14 points in the team standings and automatically advanced to the NCAA Championships.

Kelley came back to take third in the men's 400m IH with a time of 51.18, running down the field in the final stretch to automatically advance to the NCAA finals. His efforts earned the men's team another six points and pulled USC within nine points of then-leader Oregon.

Rashad earned USC two points with a seventh-place finish in the men's 200m dash, posting a time of 21.47. He does not automatically qualify, but having posted the sixth-fastest time in the country in the 200m entering the weekend should earn an at-large invitation.

Despite the loss of freshman Nate Anderson to a hamstring injury and Lionel Larry being held out of the 4x400m competition, the Trojan team of Kelley, Asafo-Agyei, junior DaSean Cunningham and a strong anchor in Solomon motored to a first-place finish in a time of 3:08.45 to gain 10 more points. Following this event, USC was in third place, five points behind Oregon and one behind Washington.

Senior Inman Breaux moved the Trojans into second place with a wind-aided triple jump of 50-6 1/4 (15.40m), earning three points. Sophomore Aven Wright finished the triple jump in 14th with a best jump of 48-4 3/4 (14.75m).

The meet was left on the shoulders of the 2007 Pac-10 first and second-place finishers in the shot put Bryant and fellow redshirt senior William Denbo. Bryant secured the championship for USC by winning the shot put competition with a throw of 66-5 1/4 (20.25m) to earn 10 points and Denbo placed eighth to gain a point with a shot put of 59-4 1/4 (18.09m).

For the women, sophomore Eva Orban defended her title as NCAA West Regional hammer champion with a winning throw of 219-0 (66.76m) earning the Trojan women 10 points and automatically advancing to the NCAA finals. After fouling on her first attempt, Orban had five consecutive throws over 210 feet to keep the pressure on the field. Senior Julia Rozenfeld threw the hammer a season-best 202-10 (61.83m) to place seventh in the competition and earn two points in the team competition. Rozenfeld did not automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships, but by virtue of her season ranking should still qualify.

The women's 4x100m relay team was next on the track and the group of junior Jessica Onyepunuka, senior Candice Davis, freshman Shana Woods and junior Carol Rodriguez copied the men with a first-place finish, earning 10 points with the winning time of 44.07. USC's women have won the event at each of the last three regionals.

In the women's 100m HH, Davis stumbled prior to the final hurdle and had to settle for a third-place finish and a wind-aided time of 13.34, earning USC six points. Freshman Shalina Clarke placed sixth in the event with a wind-aided time of 13.54, earning three points in the team competition. Clarke finished .01 second behind Amber Peterson of Utah State, the last automatic qualifier, and will have to await the at-large selection process.

Rodriguez (11.20) and Onyepunuka (11.32) placed first and second in the women's 100m dash with wind-aided times to capture 18 points for USC and automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships. For Rodriguez, it was her second consecutive NCAA West Regional 100m dash championship. After five completed events, the USC's women's team by virtue of the 18 points Rodriguez and Onyepunuka had garnered actually sprinted into the lead with 49 points, six ahead of Stanford and seven ahead of Arizona State.

Freshman Myra Hasson placed sixth in the women's 400m dash with a time of 54.41 to earn USC three points. She finished .09 second behind the fifth-place automatic qualifier Brook Turner of California.

The Trojan women did not have a runner in the women's 400m IH, but ASU's Latosha Wallace placed second to earn eight points and move her team in to a tie in the team standings with USC at 52 points eight events completed on the day.

It was deja vu in the women's 200m finals are USC's Rodriguez (22.87w) and Onyepunuka (23.27w) placed first and second respectively to earn 18 more points and automatically advance to the NCAA finals. For Rodriguez it was her second-straight sweep of the 100m and 200m dashes at the NCAA West Regional. Since Arizona State did not have a runner in the 200m race, USC opened up an 18 point lead on the Sun Devils.

However, following the discus competition in which the Sun Devils earned 21 points and the 3000m steeplechase in which they earned three more points, USC's women's team had dropped into second place for good. ASU then won the pole vault competition to take a 16 point lead into the final event, the 4x400m relay race.

USC went with senior Tara Quarrie-Davis, Woods, freshman Judith Onyepunuka and Hasson in the 4x400m relay and they placed fifth with a time of 3:38.93 to earn four points to secure a second-place finish for the Trojan women.

Also competing today for USC, but not qualifying for the NCAA Championships was Chun Mei Nickles, who placed tied for 23rd in a big women's pole vault field, clearing 12-0 (3.66m).

Final team scores:

Men: 1.) USC - 83, 2.) Oregon - 75, 3.) Washington - 70, 4.) UCLA - 53.50, 5.) Arizona State - 53

Women: 1.) Arizona State - 94, 2.) USC - 74, 3.) UCLA - 67, 4.) Stanford - 60, 5.) San Diego State - 53

A recap of Trojans automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships:

Women: 100m: Carol Rodriguez and Jessica Onyepunuka; 200m: Carol Rodriguez and Jessica Onyepunuka; 100m HH: Candice Davis; 4x100m relay team; Hammer: Eva Orban

Men: 400m: Lionel Larry; 800m:Duane Solomon and Raphael Asafo-Agyei; 110m HH: Kai Kelley; 400m IH: Kai Kelley; 4x100m relay team; 4x400m relay team; Hammer: Adam Midles, Shot: Noah Bryant.

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