Seven USC Athletes And A Relay Team Advance To NCAA Track and Field Finals

June 6, 2007

Eva Orban, Julia Rozenfeld and Adam Midles in the hammer, Jessica Onyepunuka and Carol Rodriguez in the 100m, Kai Kelley and Candice Davis in the sprint hurdles and the women's 4x100m relay team all qualified for the finals in the first day of competition at the 2007 NCAA Track and Field Championships being hosted by Sacramento State at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento, Calif.

Sophomore Orban was the first women's hammer thrower to post an automatic qualifying mark (63.50) for Friday's finals, when she threw 208-7 (65.59m) on her second attempt in the first flight. She passed on her final throw and ended up with the third-farthest hammer throw of the day behind Britney Riley of Southern Illinois who qualified for the finals on her last throw 215-8 (65.73m) and defending champion Jennifer Dahlgren of Georgia who threw 220-8 (67.27m) in her first throw of the second flight. Senior Rozenfeld will join Orban in the 12-women finals, as she placed ninth on the day with a throw of 197-10 (60.29m).

Men's hammer specialist senior Midles, who ranks fourth all-time on USC's hammer list, needed a strong final throw to reach Friday's 12-man finals and came up big with the best throw in the first flight of 216-5 (65.95m). His throw ended up being the fifth-best qualifying mark on the day.

Taking the track next for the Trojans was the men's 4x100m relay team of freshman Jamere Holland, freshman Ahmad Rashad, junior Roy Alugbue and junior Lionel Larry. The day ended prematurely for the Trojans as Holland reaggrevated a hamstring injury about 30 meters before the first handoff to Rashad and the Trojans were done for the meet in the sprint relay.

The USC women's 4x100m relay team of junior Onyepunuka, senior Davis, freshman Shalina Clarke and junior Rodriguez placed second in its heat despite trouble with one of the handoffs and advanced to Friday's finals with the sixth-fastest time of the day of 44.42.

Junior Duane Solomon and senior Raphael Asafo-Agyei both automatically advanced to tomorrow's men's 800m semi-finals by placing in the top three in their heats. Solomon won his heat with a time of 1:49.98, while Asafo-Agyei placed third in his heat with a time of 1:48.54.

In the women's 100m dash first round, Rodriguez won her heat with a wind-aided time of 11.15, followed in second by her teammate Onyepunuka at 11.26w. The top three from each heat advanced to the semi-finals later in the evening. The top four runners from each heat would advance to Friday's final and Onyepunuka placed fourth in the second heat to advance with a time of 11.31, matching her legal career best. Rodriguez had a few anxious moments in her heat. First she was llisted last with no time, then moved up to fifth with a time of 11.32. The PA originally announced that Yolanda Goff of Oklahoma had qualified as the at large selection with a time of 11.40, but then got the official first heat results and Rodriguez was moving on to join Onyepunuka in the finals.

Junior Kelley automatically qualified for the men's 110m HH semi-finals later in the day by placing third in his heat with a time of 13.72. The top four from the three heats plus the next six best times advanced and that is where junior Logan Taylor came in. He placed seventh in his heat with a time of 13.99 (13.982), .008 seconds ahead of Dermillo Wise of Oklahoma. But they were just two of the three runners to tie for the sixth time qualifier position at 13.99. The other runner was Dennis Martin of Florida in the final heat and his time of 13.984 was .002 seconds behind Taylor, who advanced to the semi-finals later in the evening. In the semi-finals the top four from each heat would advance to Friday's finals, plus the next best time. Kelley left no doubt running a new PR of 13.59 to place third in the first heat and automatically advance. It also bettered his eighth-place standing on USC's all-time 110m HH list. Taylor improved his time in the semi-finals to 13.88, but that was good for only eighth in his heat, so he did not qualify for the finals.

In the women's 100m HH first round, Clarke went first and had a wind-aided time of 13.42 to place seventh in her heat and did not qualify for the semi-finals later in the evening. Davis ran in the final first-round heat and won with the second-fastest time of the day of 13.01 to advance to the semi-finals. She placed second in her heat with a time of 13.08 to move on to Friday's finals. Both heats were extremely close with the fastest time being 13.06 and the ninth-place qualifier having a 13.12 time.

Larry won his heat in the men's 400m dash with a time of 46.25 to automatically advance to the semi-finals on Friday. He posted the second-fastest qualifying time on the day while easily winning his heat..

In tomorrow's action, freshman Shana Woods will begin competition in the women's heptathlon, as the first four events are scheduled. USC record-holder, 2007 Pac-10, 2007 NCAA West Region and 2007 NCAA Indoor shot put champion Noah Bryant, as well as fellow redshirt senior William Denbo will be competing in the shot put preliminaries. Denbo, who ranks sixth all-time on USC's shot put list, placed second at the 2007 Pac-10 Championships and eighth at the NCAA West Regional. The top 12 finishers will advance to Saturday's finals.

On the track for USC tomorrow will be Rashad in the men's 200m (preliminaries and semi-finals) and Rodriguez and Onyepunuka in the women's 200m (preliminaries and semi-finals). Also Kelley will run in the 400m IH preliminaries, with the semi-finals slated for Friday and finals Saturday. Solomon and Asafo-Agyei will compete in the men's 800m semi-finals and both the men's and women's 4x400m relay teams will compete in the semi-finals.

The NCAA Track and Field Championships will run June 6-9 at Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento. CSTV will televise the action from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on June 8 and CBS-TV will televise the finals on June 9 from 10 a.m. to noon.

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