USC To Compete This Weekend At The Northridge Invitational

March 12, 2008

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2008 USC TRACK AND FIELD - The USC Trojans men's and women's track and field team will be competing at the CS Northridge Invitational in Northridge, Calif. on Saturday, March 15. Also, Nia Ali and Carol Rodriguez will run at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. on Friday, March 14.

TROJANS LAY THE HAMMER ON THE BEN BROWN FIELD - Several Trojans had big days at the Ben Brown Invitational held in Fullerton, Calif. on March 7-8, but none matched the success of the hammer throwers. Junior Eva Orban won the women's hammer competition with a throw of 226-6, just two seconds off her school record mark. Not a bad first attempt of the season. It also was enough to easily qualify her for the NCAA West Regional later in the season. On the men's side, redshirt junior Brian Wilhelm (196-1) and freshman Trey Henderson (195-2) both past the regional qualifying mark. For Wilhelm is was a career best and for Henderson his collegiate best. Also setting a PR was redshirt junior Mike Curiel with a throw of 185-11, 10 feet farther than his previous best throw and .14 meters away from the qualifying standard. Also qualifying for the regional with his effort at the Ben Brown Invitational was freshman Oscar Spurlock in the 110m HH with a time of 14.30. Sophomore Shalina Clarke won the women's 100m HH with a season-best time of 13.56. She had already posted a regional qualifying mark.

INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS - Sophomore Nia Ali in the 60m hurdles and senior Carol Rodriguez in the 200m have qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships and will be competing on March 14 in Fayetteville, Ark. The Trojan runners have not focused on indoors and ran last week to gain a qualifying time. Ali comes in with the 13th fastest 60m hurdle time and Rodriguez with the 12th fastest 200m time in the field.

THE 2008 WOMEN'S TEAM - The women's team placed seventh at the NCAA Championships in 2007, as well as finishing second at the NCAA West Regional and placing fourth at the Pac-10 Championships. Gone is 2007 NCAA runner-up in the 100m HH Candice Davis, but the Trojans return a strong group. Leading the way is super sprinter Carol Rodriguez, coming off a season in which she won the 100m and 200m races at the Pac-10 Championships and the NCAA West Regional, as well as taking fourth in the 100m and anchoring USC's third place 4x100m relay team at the NCAA Championships. Nearly step-by-step with her is Jessica Onyepunuka who placed second to Rodriguez at the conference and West Regional in the 100m and 200m, placed seventh in the 100m and ran on the 4x100m relay team at the NCAA Championships. Eva Orban returns after placing second and third respectively in the hammer throw at the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Championships. Hurdler Shalina Clarke and heptathlete Shana Woods showed great promise last season as freshmen earning Pac-10 Co-Newcomer of the Year honors. Also back this season is USC discus record-holder Kate Hutchinson who redshirted in 2007.

THE 2008 MEN'S TEAM - The men's team placed fifth at the NCAA Championships last season, won the NCAA West Regional for the third consecutive season and came in third in the closest Pac-10 Championship in history. Gone is NCAA shot put champion Noah Bryant and fifth-place hammer thrower Adam Midles, but USC returns the rest of its scorers and has added some key newcomers. NCAA scorers returning are Lionel Larry in the 400m (2nd), Kai Kelley in the 110m HH (7th), Duane Solomon in the 800m (7th), Ahmad Rashad in the 200m (8th). Larry was Pac-10 Track Athlete of the Year and Rashad was named Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year as he won both the 100m and 200m dashes at the Pac-10 Championships. Joining them this season are javelin specialist Corey White who won the Division III NCAA title in 2006, high jumper Manjula Wijesekara who qualified for the NCAA finals as a freshman and posted the third-highest jump in school history and Derek Scott a 17-foot pole vaulter who redshirted last season. Added to all of this is the No. 2 rated recruiting class which features 2007 Gatorade Boys Track Athlete of the Year Bryshon Nellum, hurdler and long jumper Terry Prentice and hurdler Oscar Spurlock.

RETURNING ALL-AMERICANS - The Trojans have eight returning student-athletes who qualified for All-American honors during the 2007 track and field outdoor season: Shalina Clarke (4x100m), Jessica Onyepunuka (100m, 4x100m), Eva Orban (Hammer), Carol Rodriguez (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Kai Kelley (110m HH), Lionel Larry (400m), Ahmad Rashad (200m), Duane Solomon (800m).

SCHOOL RECORD HOLDERS - The Trojans have six individuals on the current team who hold USC records: Kate Hutchinson (discus), Jessica Onyepunuka (4x100m), Eva Orban (hammer), Carol Rodriguez (200m, 400m, 4x100m), Irek Sekretarski (1-Mile), Brysun Stately (Pole Vault - redshirting in 2008).

TROJAN INVITATIONAL - The Trojan track and field team will host their second and final home meet of the season at Loker Stadium on March 22 when they hold the annual Trojan Invitational.

RANKINGS - The Trackwire outdoor rankings have not been posted yet.

USC TRACK AND FIELD HISTORY - USC is well known as one of the most successful athletic programs in the history of the NCAA, with 107 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 - Director of Track and Field Ron Allice enters his 14th 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. USC has the only track and field program in the country to have both the men's and women's squad finish in the top 10 in the country in each of the last three seasons. Under his guidance, the Trojan men's team has finished in the top 10 at the NCAA finals in 10 of his 13 seasons, including a fifth-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 nine times in 13 seasons, including a seventh-place finish in 2007. 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 106 years of a rich and storied tradition.

TROJANS LEAVING THEIR MARKS - The Trojans have 25 athletes on the current team (including 4 added this season) that have posted top 10 marks all-time by a Trojan. The following is a list of those athletes and their ranking at USC:

Men WomenKai Kelley (8th - 110m HH, 5th - 4x400m) Ekene Anene (10th - High Jump, 9th - Triple Jump) Kristine Busa (3rd - Javelin)Lionel Larry (3rd - 400m, 3rd - 4x100m, 5th - 4x400m) Shalina Clarke (8th - 100m HH, 6th - 400m IH,Stenn Parton (9th - Javelin) 9th - 4x100m, 9th - 4x400m) Sarah Cocco (7th - 3000m) Zsofia Erdelyi (4th - 3000m)John Peate (10th - Steeplechase) Myra Hasson (9th - 4x400m)Irek Sekretarski (1st - Mile, 6th - 1500m, 2nd - 4x800m) Kate Hutchinson (1st - Discus)Duane Solomon (2nd - 800m, 2nd & 3rd - 4x800m) Chun Mei Nickles (T-4th - Pole Vault)Corey White (3rd - Javelin) Lindsay Oman (8th - Heptathlon)Manjula Wijesekara (3rd - High Jump) Jessica Onyepunuka (8th -100m, 10th - 200m, 1st, 5th, 8th & 9th - 4x100m Judith Onyepunuka (9th - 4x400m) Eva Orban (1st - Hammer) Carol Rodriguez (7th - 100m, 1st - 200m, 1st - 400m, 1st, 5th & 9th - 4x100m, 8th - 4x400m) Michelle Sanford (3rd - Triple Jump, 6th - Long Jump) Brysun Stately (1st - Pole Vault)* Talia Stewart (10th - 100m HH, 7th - 400m IH, 5th - 4x100m) Shana Woods (7th - Long Jump, 3rd - Heptathlon) * redshirting in 2008

TROJANS SEND THREE TO ARKANSAS LAST CHANCE MEET - Trojans Nia Ali, Carol Rodriguez and Kai Kelley competed on March 7 at the Arkansas Last Chance Meet in Fayetteville, Ark. hoping to qualify for next week's NCAA Indoor Championships. Ali had the fastest qualifying time in the 60m hurdles of 8.30 and then placed second in the finals with an NCAA provisional mark of 8.24. Rodriguez won the 200m dash with an NCAA provisional time of 23.60. Kelley placed third in the men's 60m hurdles with a time of 7.95, .04 seconds off the NCAA provisional qualifying time of 7.91.

EXPECT SOMETHING SPECIAL FROM THE SENIORS - The Trojan roster is filled with talented athletes throughout the different classes, but this year's senior group has posted some impressive numbers and they are not done yet! Lionel Larry has run a 44.67 400m and enters the season with designs on winning the NCAA 400m title (missed by .02 last season) and on challenging Quincy Watts' school record (43.50). Duane Solomon enters this season with a best of 1:45.69 in the 800m, just .77 seconds off the school record held by Ibrahim Okash. Kai Kelley in the 110m HH and the 400m IH and Irek Sekretaski in the 1500m will looke to move up in the USC top 10 lists, while Logan Taylor looks to hurdle into the top 10 in the 110m high hurdles this season. Carol Rodriguez already owns the USC women's record in the 200m (22.23), 400m (51.51) and as part of the 4x100m relay team (42.96) and will set her sights on the school 100m record this season. Rodriguez has run a 11.24 career best, but has an 11.15 wind-aided time. Angela Williams is the school record-holder with an 11.04 time. Also, Rodriguez and Jessica Onyepunuka will attempt to repeat their 1-2 finishes at the Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional this season, while Onyepunuka will attempt to improve on her top 10 standings in the 100m and 200m dashes. Discus thower Kate Hutchinson is already the USC record-holder in the event at 189-5, but after a redshirt season she takes aim on setting a new school standard and on gaining USC points at the NCAA Championship.

CAN ORBAN DO IT AGAIN? - Junior hammer specialist Eva Orban has placed third or higher in every postseason meet she has competed in during her first two seasons at USC. As a freshman she set the school record with a throw of 226-8, won the Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional titles and placed second at the NCAA Championships. Last year, Orban took second in the hammer at the Pac-10s, won the NCAA West Regional title and placed third at the NCAA Championships. Orban got things started in a big way for the 2008 season by kicking off action on March 7 at the Ben Brown Invitational in the hammer throw with a winning mark of 226-6 (69.05m), just two inches off her school record.

FRESHMAN NELLUM EXPECTED TO MAKE IMPACT - Freshman Bryshon Nellus, the 2007 Gatorade National Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year, is expected to play a big role in USC's 2008 track and field season once he returns from his hamstring injury. Nellum finished his senior year at Long Beach Poly ranked No. 1 in both the 200m and 400m dashes among prep competitors nationally, owning the fastest time throughout the season. He won both events at the California state meet to become the first athlete in the track-rich state to ever win both the 200m and 400m at the state level two years in a row. In the process, he broke a 20-year-old California state record in the 200m (20.43). Nellum also picked up two more gold medals during the state meet as a member of the 4x100m and 4x400m relay team, the second time ever that an athlete has won four gold medals in the Division I state finals, the last time happening 91 years ago. The six total gold medals in his career at the California state meet also set a new state record.

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