Orban And White Win Titles To Highlight USC's Day At The NCAA West Regional

May 30, 2008

NCAA West Regional First Day

NORTHRIDGE, CALIF. - Eva Orban won the women's hammer throw and Corey White the men's javelin to kick off the action and lead USC today (May 30) in the first day of competition at the 2008 NCAA West Track & Field Regional held at the Matador Track and Field Complex on the CS Northridge campus in Northridge, Calif. The Trojans had three athletes qualify for the NCAA Championships to be held at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa from June 11-14, while the rest of the finals will be held tomorrow. To qualify for the NCAA Championships, athletes have to finish in the to five (top three in relay events) in each of the NCAA Regionals or qualify from a group of 5-8 other athletes chosen from a pool of the next best seven finishers in each event from the four regionals.

Orban defended her NCAA West Regional hammer title with a throw of 211-9 (64.54m) to win the women's competition by four and a half feet over Arizona State's Sarah Stevens. Despite still battling back from a knee injury, the junior won the competiton for the third time in three seasons as a collegian.

Orban said she is was feeling much better than two weeks ago at the Pac-10 Championships and added, 'I really just wanted to qualify for the NCAA's. I've been battling a slight injury, so it was important to come back into competition and throw well.'

The redshirt junior White set a new NCAA West Regional record with his third throw of 241-11 (73.73m) to post the top javelin mark of the day, more than 12 feet farther than the second-place finisher. The previous West Regional javelin record was 241-3 (73.55m) set by Rob Minnitti of Boise State in 2003.

'That was probably the highlight of my day,' said White. 'I don't feel like I was seeing those air pockets that are up there where you can tell that the wind is going to change. I don't think I was seeing them today. I'm not terribly excited. I'm happy, but not safisfied. I'm not a terribly excitable guy until I PR. My coach wanted me to come and take one throw and I respectfully disagreed with his opinion. We decided to come out, take a few throws and use it as a practice, to work on some things that have been off.'

The Trojans' steak of winning every event came to an end with the men's high jump, but just barely. Redshirt sophomore Manjula Wijesekara placed second with a clearance of 7-2 1/4 (2.19m) to gain an automatic entry to the NCAA Championships. Wijesekara, who has been battling injuries, did not even compete at the Pac-10 Championships two weeks ago.

'I just missed at 7-3 1/4, but it's the first meet after I got hurt (hamstring) at UCLA, so I'm happy,' said Wijesekara. 'I missed my final jump with a short approach, so by Nationals I'll be using the long approach and will be ready.'

Redshirt senior Michelle Sanford placed seventh in the women's long jump with a mark of 19-11 (6.07m). Sanford also placed seventh in the long jump at the West Regional in 2006.

Fellow redshirt senior Kate Hutchinson closed out the first day scoring for the Trojans with a sixth-place finish in the women's discus. Hutchinson, who won the discus at this meet as a junior in 2006, had a best throw on the day of 165-7 (50.46m). She finished .02 meters behind the fifth-place finisher with the top five getting automatic advancement to the NCAA Championships, but could still qualify as an at-large selection.

After the first day and with five completed events, the USC men's team is in third place with 18 points, while the women's squad is in fourth place with 15 points. Scoring for the men were White (10 points) and Wijesekara (8 points) and for the women, Orban (10), Hutchinson (3) and Sanford (2).

In qualifying action, freshman Shalina Clarke won her 100m HH heat with a time of 13.45, while sophomore Nia Ali won her's with a time of 13.54 to automatically advance to tomorrow's finals. Sophomore Shana Woods placed fourth in her heat with a time of 13.89, but did not reach the finals as the eighth qualifier had a time of 13.84.

Senior Kai Kelley won his 110m HH heat with a time of 13.73 to advance to tomorrow's finals, while senior Logan Taylor ran 13.84 to place second in his heat, but qualified with the fifth fastest time of the day. Kelley's time was the third-fastest qualifying time. Freshman Oscar Spurlock took fourth place in his heat with a time of 14.11, but did not advance to tomorrow's finals.

In the women's 100m dash, senior Jessica Onyepunuka ran 11.49 to take second in her heat and advance to the finals, while her sister, sophomore Judith Onyepunuka, ran 12.19 and did not advance to the finals.

The Trojans' only entrant in the men's 100m dash was sophomore Ahmad Rashad and he placed seventh in his heat with a time of 10.69 and did not advance to tomorrow's finals.

Senior Carol Rodriguez cruised to victory in her 400m heat with the top time of the day by nearly two seconds of 52.25 to advance to the finals. Her teammate sophomore Myra Hasson placed fourth in her 400m heat with a time of 55.13 and did not advance to tomorrow's finals.

Senior Lionel Larry cruised into tomorrow's men's 400m finals by winning his heat with a pedestrian time for him of 47.06, while sophomore Jason Price was second in his heat and fifth overall with a time of 47.12, to also qualify for tomorrow's final.

In the men's 800m race, senior Duane Solomon eased to victory in his heat with a time of 1:49.08 to automatically qualify for the finals. Sophomore Nate Anderson ran 1:51.62 in the same heat to place fifth, but did not advance to the finals.

In the women's 400m IH, Pac-10 Champion Clarke placed third in her heat with a time of 1:00.93, not good enough to advance to the finals. However, redshirt junior Katie Kirst placed second in the same heat with a time of 1:00.51 to claim the last qualifying spot for the finals. Clarke finished in the top 12, so she is still eligible for an at-large selection and will have to wait for the at-large process.

Kelley was next on the track in the men's 400m IH and he placed third in his heat with a time of 51.23, but fifth overall to advance. Redshirt junior Sheldon Evans ran a 52.95 400m IH race to place fourth in his heat, but did not advance to tomorrow's finals.

The final event on the day for the Trojans was a scary one as Rodriguez came back to run in the women's 200m dash, looking to defend her title in the event from last year. Half way through the race Rodriguez's hamstring injury flared up and she slowed down, then stopped and walked back in her lane, before jogging through the line to complete the race. By doing so, even with a time of 52.06, she finished in the 11th as there were only that many competitiors. The importance of that is competitors have to finish in the top 12 to still be considered for the NCAA Championships, so Rodriguez still has a chance to gain an at-large selection.

The NCAA West Regional will conclude tomorrow with 14 events to be contested on both the men's and women's sides.

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