USC Hosts Trojan Invitational Saturday

March 20, 2008

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2008 USC TRACK AND FIELD - The USC Trojans men's and women's track and field team will hosting the annual Trojan Invitational at Loker Stadium on Saturday, March 22. The meet is expected to feature 17 school from around the West coast including Boise State, Washington State, Long Beach State, CS Fullerton, CS Northridge, CS Los Angeles, San Diego State, Cal Poly, Cal Poly-Pomona and Colorado State. Once again the Trojans are also hosting the Los Angeles City High School Relay Championships as part of the Trojan Invitational.

ORBAN LEADS WAY AT CS NORTHRIDGE INVITATIONAL - Junior Eva Orban came within inches of her own school record in the hammer two weeks ago but left no doubt last week with a throw of 230-3 (70.18m) to better her USC record by over three and one-half feet on March 15 at the Northridge Invitational. Orban had established the USC standard in the hammer with a throw of 226-8 on May 27, 2006. Also moving up the charts last Saturday was redshirt junior Corey White with a career-best throw of 235-5 to win the men's javelin competition. His mark is second best in USC history, trailing only Nils Fearnley's 244-8 set in 1985. White had thrown the javelin 220-10 on March 1 at the Trojan relays which was the third-best mark in school history. His previous PR was 231-7 set in 2006 to win the Division III NCAA Championship. Sophomore Shalina Clarke won the women's 100m high hurdles with a new PR of 13.42. That time betters her eighth-place standing on USC's all-time 100m HH list which had been 13.48 set on April 28, 2007.

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.

NEXT WEEK - The Trojans' track and field team will compete at the Texas Relays from April 2-5 in Austin, Tex. and at the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif. from April 4-5.

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).

ALI AND RODRIGUEZ COMPETE AT INDOORS - Sophomore Nia Ali competed in the 60m hurdles and senior Carol Rodriguez in the 200m at the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14 in Fayetteville, Ark. Ali had a time of 8.21 in the prelims and missed qualifying for the finals by .02. Rodriguez had a time of 23.78 in the 200m prelims and did not advance to the finals.

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.

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 look 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.

ORBAN DOES IT AGAIN - Junior Eva Orban has gotten 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. Then she established a new USC and Pac-10 record in the hammer throw in just her second outing of the season with a throw of 230-3 (70.18m) on March 15 at the Northridge Invitational. The hammer specialist 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 is ranked as the No. 2 female collegiate hammer thrower on CollegeHammer.com, trailing only returning champion Brittany Riley of Southern Illinois.

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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