Trojan Track Teams Gearing Up For Conference Battle

May 14, 2003


For the first time ever, the Pac-10 Track and Field Championships will be held on USC's campus as the 2003 conference meet takes place at Katherine B. Loker Stadium this Saturday and Sunday (May 17-18). Field events begin on Saturday with the women's hammer at West L.A. College at 10 a.m., while the rest of the events get underway at USC's Loker Stadium with the women's long jump at 11 a.m. The first running event on Saturday is the women's 400m relay preliminary heat at 1 p.m. Events on Sunday begin with the men's hammer at West L.A. College at 9 a.m. and with the women's triple jump at noon at Loker Stadium. The first running event on Sunday is the women's 400m relay final at 1 p.m. The team champions will be crowned in an awards ceremony at 5:45 p.m on Sunday. The two-day affair will display over 200 athletes from nine schools (Oregon State does not offer track) as they compete for the 73rd men's title and the 17th women's title. Stanford is the two-time defending men's champion, while the UCLA women will be shooting for their seventh consecutive crown. The meet will be televised on tape delay by Fox Sports West on Thursday, May 22, at noon PT. Results will be live on


The Trojan men finished third and the Women of Troy second at last season's conference championships hosted by Washington State. Troy last won the Pac-10 men's title in 2000, while the USC women last won in 1996. Overall, USC has won 35 men's titles and two women's crowns. The last time USC--owner of more NCAA track and field championships than any other university--hosted the Pac-10s at any venue was in 1986 at the L.A. Coliseum.


The Pac-10 is well-represented in the latest Trackwire Top 25 rankings, as the men's meet will see No. 3 USC, No. 10 Stanford, No. 13 UCLA, No. 17 Oregon and No. 22 Arizona State square off, while the women's meet features No. 4 UCLA, No. 6 USC, No. 7 Stanford, No. 13 Oregon and No. 15 Washington State.


There are new qualifying standards in place in 2003 due to the implementation of NCAA qualifying regionals. No longer are there NCAA automatic or provisional qualifying marks for athletes. Instead, there are Regional qualifying marks, which are substantially less stringent than the previous standards. An athlete must qualify for the NCAA Regionals and then advance to the NCAA Championships out of those Regionals, though an exception is made for athletes whose marks are among the best in the country by season's end.


USC has four Pac-10 Champions returning from last year's squads. On the men's side, there is seniors Ryan Willson (110m HH) and Julien Kapek (triple jump). For the women, there is senior Nakiya Johnson (400m) and junior Inga Stasiulionyte (javelin).


The Women of Troy finished second to UCLA in the closest meet in Pac-10 history, 160-157. For the second year in a row, the title came down to the winner of the 1600m relay and for the second year in a row, UCLA won the race and the team title. On the men's side, the Trojans finished third with 103.5 points behind Stanford (151) and Oregon (125).


The Women of Troy won their first NCAA team championship in June of 2001 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The Trojan men's program has won an unprecedented 26 NCAA outdoor national titles (including nine straight in 1935-43), plus two NCAA indoor crowns. USC's men also have had 108 individual champions over the years, including Allen Simms in the indoor triple jump in 2003. The Women of Troy have won 18 NCAA individual titles and have placed in the top 10 at the NCAAs 10 times (including the last five years in the top five).


The Trojan men are coming off a season in which they finished third at the Pac-10 championships and tied for 11th at the NCAAs with 21 points. The Trojans were young and injury prone in 2002, but rebounded by season's end to put on quite a showing. USC is led by perhaps the best jumps corps int he nation in Allen Simms (the 2003 NCAA Indoor TJ Champ and Pac-10 record holder), Julien Kapek (2002 TJ All-American) and Dawid Jaworski (2002 NCAA HJ runner up). There is also senior Ryan Wilson, a two-time 110m HH All-American, and sophomore Wes Felix, who is among the nation's best in the 100m and 200m. The Trojans have a great freshman class that includes thrower Adam Midles (a two-time prep hammer champ), 1500m runner Tomasz Babiskiewicz, sprinter Garry Jones and 800m runner Raphael Asafo-Agyei.



There is no better pair of horizontal jumpers in the country than sophomore Allen Simms and senior Julien Kapek of USC. Simms--a transfer from George Mason--is the Pac-10 record holder in the triple jump with an indoor mark of 56-7 1/2 that he jumped while winning the 2002 NCAA Indoor title back in March. He also has a jump of 56-4 outdoors which currently leads the nation. He's burning up the long jump runway as well, with a best of 26-3 3/4, a mark that is fourth on the all-time USC long jump list and third best in the nation at this time. Kapek is certainly no slouch either--he's currently second on the collegiate list with a wind-aided 55-4 3/4 in the triple jump this season. Earlier, he took fourth at the NCAA indoors with a jump of 53-11 3/4. He set the USC record in the triple jump last season with a mark of 55-8 1/2 (since surpassed by Simms), then took third at the NCAAs--USC's highest finish in the triple jump since Tom Cochee took second in 1976. Look for both Kapek and Simms to battle for the USC triple jump record as the season progresses and for both to score some big-time points at the NCAA meet in June (the last Trojan to actually win the NCAA outdoor triple jump title was Luther Hayes in 1961).


Senior high jumper Dawid Jaworski is the third member of USC's outstanding jumping triad that could be the nation's best in 2003. He was the 2002 NCAA runner-up in the high jump with a jump of 7-4 1/2--a mark that tied the USC school record set by Anthony Caire in 1983. It was also the highest finish at the NCAAs by a USC high jumper since Larry Hollins took second in 1971. So far this season, he has a best of 7-3 1/4--sixth best in the nation (he's jumped 7-3 or better three times so far this season). If he stays healthy, Jaworski should be a challenger for the NCAA title in June. No Trojan has won the NCAA high jump title since Lew Hoyt did it in 1963.


This year, senior Ryan Wilson will attempt to become only the second Trojan ever to become a three-time All-American in the 110m HH (William Erese from 1997-99 is the other). What's more, he will attempt to join Greg Foster of UCLA and Kehinde Alade'fa of USC as the only athletes ever to win three Pac-10 110m HH titles. He also will attempt to become the first athlete since Steve Kerho of UCLA to win both the 110m HH and 400m IH at the Pac-10 meet. Wilson finished third in the event high hurdles at the NCAAs as a sophomore and sixth last season. He won his Pac-10 titles as a freshman and as a junior. This season, he has the nation's third-fastest 110m HH time at 13.50 and also the fourth-fastest time in the 400m IH (49.67). A fine all-around athlete, Wilson also helps Troy on the 1600m relay as well. Wilson is a fine arts major who has had a few turns as an actor in some student films.


You can't talk about the future of USC track and field without mentioning All-American sprinter Wes Felix. The sophomore had a fine debut season in 2002, helping the Trojan 400m relay squad to place fifth at the NCAAs. He then went on to establish himself as one of America's top young sprinters last summer when he won the U.S. Junior 200m title and then ran a leg on the U.S. 400m relay squad that won the World Championship in a world-junior-record time of 38.92. He also placed third in the 200m at the World Junior Championships with a PR 20.82. This year, he has a best of 10.24w in the 100m and 20.79 in the 200m. If he continues to progress, he'll be knocking on the door of the prestigious USC top 10 charts very soon.


There's a lot of youth on this Trojan squad, but it is growing up in a hurry. Freshmen Adam Midles and Tomasz Babiskiewicz have already entered the USC top 10 charts in the hammer (205-4) and 1500m (3:48.89), respectively. Meanwhile, freshman Raphael Asafo-Agyei has the third-best mark in the conference in the 800m (1:49.46).


The Trojans lead the conference in the 200m (Wes Felix), 110m HH (Ryan Wilson), 400m IH (Wilson), high jump (Dawid Jaworski), 400m relay, long jump (Allen Simms) and the triple jump (Simms).


USC has six points in the meet already thanks to Shelton Davis, who finished third in the decathlon with a career-best 7,290 points, good for fifth on the USC decathlon chart and the best decathlon by a Trojan since 1998.


USC scored 57 points to finish third at the NCAA meet in Baton Rouge, LA, last June. Twenty-nine-and-a-half of those points return to do battle for the Women of Troy in 2003. Leading the way for USC is senior Natasha Mayers, who won the 200m and took second in the 100m at the NCAAs last season, junior Inga Stasiulionyte, who placed second in the javelin (she won the NCAA title the year prior), and junior L'Orangerie Crawford, who placed sixth in the hammer. The Women of Troy also return Pac-10 hammer record holder Julianna Tudja, who took third at the NCAAs in 2001 and was the Pac-10 runner up last year, team captain and 1600m relay All-American senior Nakiya Johnson (the 2002 Pac-10 400m champ). USC will also get some help from a fine recruiting class that includes freshmen Virginia Powell (already sixth on the USC all-time 100m HH list) and Tunisia Johnson (already fourth on the USC 400m IH chart).



Last season, senior Natasha Mayers became the first USC female to win the NCAA 200m title and she also was runner-up to teammate Angela Williams in the 100m. That's 18 points in one NCAA meet, for those keeping score at home. This season, she has her eyes set on winning the 100 and 200m at the NCAA meet. And get this: she only ran in one meet for USC last season (the NCAAs). This season, she is right on schedule to once again come up big at the big meet. She has the nation's second-fastest 100m time at 11.09 and is fifth in the 200m at 23.00. WIth a strong finish to the season, she can take her place as one of the greatest sprinters in Women of Troy history.


USC's Julianna Tudja, who hails from Vamosi, Hungary, is having a dream season. At the Mt. Sac Relays, she threw a Pac-10 record 218-5 in the hammer, breaking the previous best of 215-0 set by Christina Tolson. It's also the fifth-best throw in NCAA history and the second-best in the nation this year. This season, she has thrown over 209 feet four times. As a sophomore, she finished third at the NCAAs with a then-school-record 210-11.


USC has perhaps the nation's finest javelin thrower in junior Inga Stasiulionyte. She is the Pac-10 record holder in the event with a mark of 186-10. Last season, she finished second at the NCAAs, as it took an American record by Purdue's Serene Ross to beat her. The previous year, she won the NCAA javelin title as a freshman, bringing her two-year scoring total at the big meet to 18 points. She also has won two consecutive Pac-10 championships. So far this season, she has thrown 177-3, third-best in the nation.


Junior L'Orangerie Crawford is USC's top all-around thrower and a returning All-American in the hammer. She is second on the USC hammer list (209-8) and third on the shot put list (54-6 3/4). She is fourth in the nation in the hammer and 10th in the shot. Last season, she took sixth in the hammer at the NCAAs.


That's what the USC track coaches call freshman hurdler Virginia Powell, who goes by the name 'Ginnie.' Powell, who hails from Rainier Beach High in Seattle, Wash., has already ensconced herself in sixth on the USC top 10 for 100m HH thanks to the 13.39 she ran at the Sun Angel Invitational. It's also the 17th-best mark in the nation to date. The 5-10 Powell also will give the Women of Troy help in the 400m relay (she has a best of 11.65 in the 100m). She has a bright future.


At last year's Pac-10 Championships in Pullman, Wash., the Women of Troy placed FIVE athletes in the final of the 100m. Two of them--Miya Edmonson and Alexis Weatherspoon--return and, with the addition of Natasha Mayers and Ginnie Powell it could be another Cardinal and Gold 100m final.


Has there been any school in the country with a more star-studded line of sprinters in the last 10 years than USC? It started with Inger Miller, then the torch was passed to Torrie Edwards, then to Angela Williams. Now, Natasha Mayers is racking up the glory. And next year, it will be USC signee Allyson Felix's turn to add to the tradition. As it turns out, all these women could represent their country at the 2004 Olympics. An All-USC Olympic 4 x 100m squad would acquit itself quite well.


It's not always easy to measure which school has the best track and field program, but consider this: In the last four years, only USC has finished in the top three at the NCAAs while also winning an NCAA team championship at least once. USC has also shined on the individual side, winning 10 NCAA titles during the same time span. And in case anyone forgot, USC's Angela Williams last year became the first track and field athlete from any school since 1990 to win the Honda-Broderick cup honoring the nation's top female collegian.


Thank to Katherine B. Loker, the Trojan track program has a place to show its stuff in style. Loker, who competed in the 1936 Olympic trials as Katherine Bogdanovich, donated the money that allowed USC to build the stadium in her name. Always an avid track fan, Loker has been an indispensible supporter of USC athletics and one of the most prominent philanthropists in Los Angeles (she was recently named Humanitarian of the Year by the city).


Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, USC track and field has reemerged as a force on the collegiate scene thanks to the work of Director of Track and Field Ron Allice and his coaching staff. Under the guidance of Allice and company, the Trojan men went on a run of seven consective top 10 finishes--a feat last accomplished during the late 1960s and early 1970s under Verne Wolfe--from 1994-2000 and have won three Pac-10 titles in the last six years. Last season, his young men's team finished third in the Pac-10 and tied for 11th at the NCAAs. The previous season--2001--the Trojans were 12th at the NCAA meet and 2nd in the conference, while snapping crosstown rival UCLA's dual-meet win streak at 22. The seven seasons prior to 2001, Troy finished no lower than seventh at the NCAAs (including three top-5 finishes) and won three Pac-10 titles. During his tenure, Trojan men have won six NCAA individual titles, garnered All-American acclaim 67 times and set six school records--not an easy task considering the glorious track and field history at USC. Allice also runs perhaps the top women's program in the country. The Women of Troy are the only team in the country to finish in the NCAA top three each of the last four years while winning at least one NCAA team title. Last year, his squad finished third at the NCAAs. It was led by the most celebrated sprinter in collegiate history, Angela Williams, who won an unprecedented fourth NCAA 100m title and later was awarded the Honda/Broderick Cup given to the nation's top female collegiate athlete. In 2001, the Women of Troy put on a near-perfect meet to win their first NCAA team title. In 2000, USC took second--at the time, their best-ever showing at the NCAAs. In 1999, USC was the only program that finished in the top five in both men's and women's track and field, as the women were third and the men fifth. In 1998, the women's team finished in fifth place. In 1997 they placed 14th, but that came on the heels of their first-ever Pac-10 title and a seventh-place NCAA finish in 1996. Allice's women's teams usually feature powerhouse athletes who go on to shine on the national and world stages, including such stars as Williams, Natasha Danvers, Brigita Langerholc and Torri Edwards. Allice has coached more than 237 All-Americans, plus 16 Olympians, four world record holders and seven American record holders. His career dual meet record is 211-41-1.


In addition to Troy's 26 NCAA outdoor titles (including nine straight, 1935-43), two indoor NCAA titles and 31 conference crowns, the USC men's program has had 39 unbeaten and untied seasons, including a string of 16 in a row (1946-61). Since starting the track and field program in 1900, the Trojan men have compiled a dual-meet record of 417-112-4 (.799). Since 1912, 61 USC trackmen have equalled or bettered world records, and there have been 107 NCAA individual or relay winners from Troy. Eighty-one Trojan men and 17 Women of Troy have won 128 places on national Olympic teams over the years. Trojans have won 27 individual Olympic titles and shared in 13 relay wins. The USC women have won one NCAA title (2001) and two Pac-10 titles (1986 and 1996), as well as 18 NCAA individual titles.


Thus far in 2003, the Pac-10 has named 15 athletes as conference Athletes of the Week for track and field. Eight of those athletes have been from USC. For the week of April 14, the honorees were Ryan Wilson (men's track), Julianna Tudja (women's field) and Virginia Powell (women's track). For April 21, the honorees were Wilson (men's track), Tudja (womens' field) and Allen Simms (men's field). Then the following week, it was Wes Felix (men's track) and Erin Williams (women's field) doing the honors.

Now on Pac-12 Network
1:30 AM PT

Airing on:

  • Pac-12 Network
Get Pac-12 Networks
Pac-12 Networks Channel Finder