USC Has A Strong First Day In Field Events At Pac-10 Championships

May 15, 2010

BERKELEY, CALIF. - USC had seven top five finishes in the eight finals in which they competed, highlighted by Trey Henderson's win in the men's hammer and second place finishes for Brendan Ames in the long jump, Cooper Thompson in the javelin and Brandon Estrada in the pole vault on the first day of competition at the Pac-10 Track and Field Championships hosted by California at Edwards Stadium in Berkeley, Calif. today (May 15).

Heading into the final day of the championships on Sunday, the USC men's team is in fourth place with 40 points, while the women's team sits in seventh with 17 points. In addition, the USC men advanced 10 individuals and two relay teams to the finals, while the Trojan women advanced six individuals and both relay teams.

Amidst hazy skies and a cool morning temperature, the men's hammer competition launched the 2010 Pac-10 Championship weekend and the redshirt sophomore Henderson catapulted USC into the scoring column by winning with a throw of 219-9 (66.99m) to earn 10 points. He reached the finals in second place after three throws , but took the lead in his fourth throw with a mark of 219-6 and then bettered in with his fifth throw which proved to be the best mark on the day. Henderson became the ninth USC hammer thrower to capture the Pac-10 men's hammer title in the last 18 seasons. Sophomore Eric Stein placed 10th in the event with a best throw of 172-2 (52.47m). The Trojan men entered the weekend trailing Oregon by 16 and the women's team trailed Oregon by 14 points as the Ducks had big scores last weekend in the multi-events, while USC did not have an athlete entered in those competitions.

Shortly after that the sophomore Thompson excited the crowd with a throw of 253-3 in the men's javelin, the second farthest mark by a javelin thrower in the country this season. It also moved him from third to second on USC's all-time list, trailing only the great Corey White's school record of 272-2. It also temporarlity put him in the lead but national leader Cyrus Hostetler of Oregon (256-6) took the lead back by two centemeters and into the final rounds, with a mark of 253-4. Neither thrower improved or was challenged, so Thompson took second 77.19m to 77.21m. Senior Ben Brown placed 12th in the competition with a best throw of 181-11 (55.46m).

Redshirt seniors Brandon Estrada and Derek Scott combined to earn USC 11 points in the men's pole vault with Estrada placing second with a clearance of 17-3.75 (5.28m) to earn eight points and Scott taking sixth with a vault of 16-8.00 (5.08m) to earn three points. Junior Taylor Slingsby also competed, but no heighted at 15-8.25 (4.78m).

Junior Brendan Ames set a PR in the long jump with a leap of 25-7.25 (7.80m) and it looked like a winning effort until the last jump of the competition when Oregon's Ashton Eaton beat him by one centemeter with a jump of 25-7.50 (7.81m). Still, Ames earned USC eight points and sophomore Tony Burnett another point by finishing eighth with best jump of 22-9.25 (6.94m).

Also scoring for the men's team today was sophomore Alex Adams who earned the USC men's team two more points by placing seventh in the shot put with a best mark of 53-11.75 (16.45m). Also competing for USC in the shot were redshirt senior Aaron Dan who placed 10th with a best effort on the day of 53-0.00 (16.15m) and sophomore Abe Markowitz to 13th with a put of 52-5.50 (15.99m).

Redshirt sophomore Marissa Minderler broke up Arizona's monopoly in the women's shot put competition taking fifth place with a mark of 44-11.75 (13.71m) to earn the Trojan women's team four points, after Arizona took the first four positions to gain 29 points in the event. Freshman Lauren Chambers finished just out of the scoring in ninth place with a distance of 42-5.25 (12.93m).

Junior Kristine Busa took third in the women's javelin with a throw of 160-8 (48.98m) to earn USC six points and Minderler came back to take sixth in this event with a mark of 148-11 (45.40m) for three more points.

Freshman Alitta Boyd placed fifth in the women's long jump with a season-best leap of 19-11.50 (6.08m) to earn USC an additional four points.

The first running events were the women's and men's 4x100m relays with eight of the nine teams entered moving on to Sunday's finals. The women's team of senior Shalina Clarke, senior Judith Onyepunuka, senior Elizabeth Olear and sophomore Aareon Payne eased into the finals winning its heat with a time of 44.62, posting the second-fastest qualifying time.

The men's team of sophomore Amechi Egbe, senior Ahmad Rashad, sophomore Jahmar Rashad and sophomore Joey Hughes placed second to Oregon (40.562) in its heat with a time of 40.564 as Hughes made a great drive down the stretch to catch the Oregon runner at the tape. USC had the fourth-fastest qualifying time and advanced to the finals.

Next up was the women's 1500m race and junior Christine Cortez was in the first of two heats. The top four in in each heat would advance to the finals as would the next four best times. Cortez approached her season best with a time of 4:28.72 to place eighth, to keep her in the running if the second heat was slower. Unfortunately the fifth and sixth runners in the second heat finished strong to eliminate Cortez from reaching the finals as she finished 14th overall.

Sophomore Blake Shaw was up next in the men's 1500m race with the same parameters to reach the finals. He hung near the back for the first two laps before taking the lead late in the the third lap, settling into second place and then finishing seventh with a time of 3:53.45. The second heat kept a faster pace as a whole and Shaw did not advance, finishing in 15th place

Things took a turn for the worse for USC when senior Myra Hasson looked like a scratch from the women's 400m dash. If that wasn't enough, senior Elizabeth Olear was called for a false start in her heat, eliminating the pair which had finished sixth and seventh respectively at the 2009 Pac-10 Championships. It turns out that there was a clerical error and Hasson was brought out for the third heat instead of the first heat, so following an inquiry Hasson was added to the finals, which would make it a timed two-heat race on Sunday. Unfortunately, that was appealed and Hasson was then disqualified for not starting.

The USC men in the 400m fared much better as three runners qualified for the finals in Hughes, redshirt sophomore Bryshon Nellum and senior Nate Anderson, with senior Jason Price just missing by placing ninth and sophomore Scott DeYoung placing 11th. Nellum won the first heat to advance to the finals, easing in with a time of 46.61. Hughes then took the second heat with the fastest qualifying time of 46.34, with Anderson placing third with a time of 47.48 and Price fourth with a time of 48.02. DeYoung running in the third head placed fourth with a time of 48.43.

Clarke was next in the women's 100m high hurdles and she won her heat with a time of 13.36 to automatically advance to tomorrow's finals. Her time was the fastest qualifier.

Next was the men's 110m HH and Ames won the second heat with a time of 13.82 and junior Oscar Spurlock placed second in the heat with a time of 13.89. Those were the top two times on the day to qualify both runners for Sunday's finals.

Onyepunuka was USC's only representative in the women's 100m dash and she placed third in her heat with a time of 11.69 which was fourth-fastest overall and good enough to move her on to the finals.

The men's 100m dash was next and Ahmad Rashad won his heat easily with a time of 10.46 to advance to the finals. None of the other USC men advanced as Egbe placed 12th with a time of 10.69, freshman Terence Abram 22nd with a time of 10.94, Jahmar Rashad 25th with a time of 11.04 and Burnett 27th with a time of 11.14.

Shaw came back to run in the men's 800m race with the top two in each heat and the next best two times advancing to the finals. He ran in the final heat, but his time of 1:50.99 was fifth in his group and did not advance him to the finals.

Sophomore Dalilah Muhammad punched her ticket into Sunday's women's 400m intermediate hurdles finals by easing to victory in her heat with a time of 58.26. Muhammad's time was the second-fastest among the qualifiers.

In the men's 400m IH, sophomore Duane Walker had a season-best time of 51.70 to place third in his heat and freshman Reggie Wyatt had a season-best time of 49.97 to win his heat, sending both the Sunday's finals. Wyatt's time was the fastest on the day and Walker's the fifth-best qualifier.

The final running events on the day for USC were the 200m qualifying. The women's team advanced three runners to the finals as Onyepunuka won the third heat with a time of 23.97 to automatically qualify. The next fastest runner in her heat had a time of 24.04 which advanced Payne and Olear to the finals as they had the last two qualifying times entering the final heat. Olear finished seventh at 23.98 and Payne eighth at 24.01.

Hughes and Ahmad Rashad then advanced to the men's 200m finals by winning their heats. Hughes had a time of 21.21 and Rashad a time of 21.23, the second and third fastest qualifying times.

Trojans joining those who advanced today in tomorrow's final day of action are: Adams (discus), Ekene Anene (triple jump), Tamara Baumann (hammer), Boyd (triple jump), Brown (triple jump), Burnett (triple jump), Colin Campbell (discus), Chambers (hammer), Dan (discus), Kathryn Daniels (hammer), Zsofia Erdelyi (5000m), Lauren Guerrieri (discus), Minderler (hammer), Brysun Stately (pole vault), Manjula Wijesekara (high jump & triple jump) and Aven Wright (triple jump).

First day standings:

Women: 1.) Arizona 71, 2.) Oregon 65, 3.) Stanford 33, 4.) Washington State 27, 5.) Arizona State 21.5, 6.) Washington 19, 7.) USC 17, 8.) California 11, 9.) UCLA 8.5.

Men: 1.) Oregon 71, 2.) California 43, 3.) Washington 41, 4.) USC 40, 5.) Arizona State 36, 6.) UCLA 34, 7.) Stanford 33, 8.) Washington State 9, 9.) Arizona 5.

At the 2009 Pac-10 Championships the USC men trailed 88-16 after the first day and placed second, while the women trailed 67-26 and placed fourth.

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