USC Men Place Second And Women Third At NCAA West Regional
May 31, 2008
NORTHRIDGE, CALIF. - Four more Trojans and an the men's 4x400m relay team won individual events to lead USC today (May 31) in the final 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 13 individual athletes as well as three relay teams qualify for the NCAA Championships to be held at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa from June 11-14. Those athletes who did not finish in the top five (top 3 for relays) at today's meet still could qualify for an at-large selection, as 5-8 athletes in each event will be selected to fill out the sessions from the national descending order list.
Both the men's team and women's team had strong final-day efforts, with the men's team placing second with 72 points, two points behind Arizona State and the women's team placing third with 78 points behind only Arizona State (114) and UCLA (87.5 points). Winning individual events today were senior Jessica Onyepunuka (100m), senior Carol Rodriguez (400m), sophomore Shalina Clarke (100m HH), senior Lionel Larry (400m) and the men's 4x400m relay team of sophomore Nate Anderson, senior Duane Solomon, senior Kai Kelley and Larry. Winning events for the Trojans on Friday were junior Eva Orban (hammer) and junior Corey White (javelin). Four of the six individual women to qualify for the NCAA Championships won their event and a fifth (Zsofia Erdelyi with a school record in the steeplechase) placed second. Two USC men won individual titles, while four placed second (Kelley in the 110m HH and 400m IH, Duane Solomon in the 800m and Manjula Wijesekara in the high jump).
'We were within two points of winning it on the men's side after winning it the last three years,' said USC Director of Track and Field Ron Allice. 'We did our best today. I can't take anything away from what we did today. We performed well. We haven't had too many days like that. Hopefully it is a sign of things to come.'
'Our women performed well, too,' added Allice. 'We probably could have scored more points in this meet, but we make decisions after the conference championships to determine who can go to the NCAAs, so we don't have too many people doubling and tripling in events. The ideal goal is to get to the NCAA Championships and scoring is secondary.'
The USC men's hammer throwers were the first group in action on the day and none of the Trojans' three throwers reached the finals, but redshirt junior Mike Curiel won the first flight with a PR of 196-1 (59.78m) to finish 14th and freshman Trey Henderson tied for first in the second flight with a PR of 196-3 (59.8m) to finish in 13th place. Redshirt junior Brian Wilhelm had fouls on all three throws in the second flight.
Freshman Kristine Busa then qualified for the NCAA Championships with a fifth-place finish in the women's javelin with a throw of 158-1 (48.19m), as six inches separated the 3-5 finishers. Busa's best throw was on her first attempt of the day and it earned USC four points in the team competition.
The track action began with the women's 4x100m relay and the USC team of Clarke, Jessica Onyepunuka, sophomore Shana Woods and sophomore Nia Ali placed second with a time of 44.64 to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships and earn USC eight points. The race did not come without a price, though, as Ali who was inserted in the anchor position in place of Rodriguez who has a finicky hamstring injury, limped over the finish line reaggrevating her own hamstring injury.
Ali made a brave attempt to run shortly after in the women's 100m HH and was forced again to limp to the finish with an eighth-place time of 17.05 to earn a point. All was not bad in the race, though, as Clarke won the regional 100m HH title with a time of 13.46 to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships and earn the Trojans 10 points.
The men's 110m HH race was next and Kelly placed second with a time of 13.74 and senior Logan Taylor fifth with a time of 13.84. Both Trojan athletes automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships and earned USC 12 points in the team competition.
Next Jessica Onyepunuka won the women's 100m title with a season-best time of 11.34 to advance to the NCAA Championships and earn the Trojans 10 more points.
Rodriguez was next to test her hamstring in the women's 400m race and it passed with flying colors as she won the event with a time of 52.58. She automatically advances to the NCAA Championships and earned USC 10 points in the process.
The men's 400m race was even more productive for the Trojans as both Larry and sophomore Jason Price advanced to the NCAA Championships and earned USC 15 more points which vaulted them into the lead at that juncture with 45 points after 11 events. Larry won with a time of 45.70 and Price took fourth with a time of 45.12, the same time he posted in yesterday's qualifier.
Solomon than earned eight points and advanced to the NCAA Championships with a second-place finish in the men's 800m race with a time of 1:48.52.
Redshirt junior Katie Kirst just missed out on an automatic NCAA bid by finishing sixth in the women's 400m IH with a time of 1:00.18. Her efforts earned the Trojans an additional three points in the team competition.
Kelley came back to qualify for the nationals in the men's 400m IH, again placing second with a time of 50.00 seconds, just off his PR of 49.92 which is eighth best all-time by a Trojan. His eight points provided the Trojans with a 19 point lead over Arizona State in the team battle after 13 completed events.
Redshirt sophomore Derek Scott tied for ninth in the men's pole vault with a clearance at 16-7 1/4 (5.06m), just out of the scoring and not among the automatic qualifiers.
Redshirt sophomore Aaron Dan earned the Trojans a point with an eighth-place finish in the men's discus with a season-best throw of 183-11 (56.06).
Redshirt senior Michelle Sanford finished sixth in the women's triple jump, just missing out as an automatic qualifier with a jump of 41-7 3/4 (12.69m). Sophomore Ekene Anene placed 17th with a triple jump of 39-3 3/4 (11.98m).
The freshman Erdelyi then punched her ticket for the NCAA Championships in impressive fashion, placing second in the women's 3000m steeplechase by breaking her own school record with a time of 10:03.73. Erdelyi had previously set the USC women's record in the event with a time of 10:11.32 on April 18 at the Mt. SAC Relays. Senior Laura Meyers ran 11.54.87 in her heat of the 3000m steeplechase to finish out of the scoring. Erdelyi garned eight more points for the Trojans in the team competition.
The Trojan women then secured third place and qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 4x400m relay as Clarke, Jessica Onyepunuka, sophomore Elizabeth Olear and sophomore Myra Hasson came in third with a time of 3:37.13. The track announcer claimed that Hasson ran an amazing 52-second anchor leg. Their effort gave USC six more points.
USC's men's team with 62 points clung to the slim lead after 17 events with the only bullet in their gun being the men's 4x400m relay team. The Sun Devils, however, had the winner in the men's steeplechase to vault into first place with 69 points and UCLA scored eight points in the event to move into second place with 68.5 points.
Going into the final event, the men's 4x400m relay, USC would have to finish second or higher to defeat UCLA which did not have a team qualify for the event, while ASU would have to finish no higher than seventh place. The men's team of Anderson, Solomon, Kelley and Larry did their part by winning the event in come-from-behind fashion with a season-best time of 3:05.16, but the Sun Devils placed fourth to earn five points which provided their winning margin of two points.
Scoring for USC on the first day were White in the men's javelin (10 points), Wijesekara in the men's high jump (8 points), Orban in the women's hammer (10 points), Hutchinson in the women's discus (3 points) and Sanford in the long jump (2 points).
Final Team Scoring (Top 5):
Men: 1.) Arizona State (74), 2.) USC (72), 3.) UCLA (68.5), 4.) Washington (54), 5.) Oregon (53).
Women: 1.) Arizona State (114), 2.) UCLA (87.5), 3.) USC (78), 4.) Stanford (74), 5.) Oregon (50)