USC Men's And Women's Track Heads Across Town To Pac-10 Meet

May 10, 2005

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THE MEET--The USC men's and women's track and field teams travel crosstown to Westwood to compete in the 2005 Pac-10 Track and Field Championships hosted by UCLA at Drake Stadium this Saturday and Sunday (May 14-15). Over 200 athletes from nine schools (Oregon State does not offer track) will compete for the 75th men's title and the 19th women's title. UCLA is the defending men's champion, while the UCLA women hope to win their ninth-consecutive crown. The meet will be replayed as a two-hour show on FSN2 on Saturday, May 21, at noon, FSN on May 21 at 2 p.m. and again Sunday, May 22, at 5 p.m. on FSN2.

USC'S PAC-10 HISTORY--In 2004, the Trojan men finished fourth with 85 points, behind team champ UCLA (145 points), Oregon (123 points) and Arizona State (120 points). On the women's side, USC was third with 111 points, behind team champion UCLA (174.5) and Stanford (153). Over the years, the Trojan men have collected 35 conference championship crowns (the last coming in 2000) and the Women of Troy have won two (1986 and 1996).

NATIONAL RANKINGS--The USC men are sixth and the Women of Troy eighth in both the May 10 Top 25 rankings and the most recent rankings, which project the standings for the NCAA Championships.

RETURNING CHAMPIONS--USC returns four champions from last year's conference championships--seniors Wes Felix (200m), Allen Simms (triple jump) and Iryna Vashchuk (1500m) and junior Virginia Powell (100m).

2005 MEN'S TRACK AND FIELD--This season, the Trojans are well equipped but have been plagued by major injuries throughout the season. After losing to UCLA by three points at the dual meet on April 30, the Trojans are looking to make a strong showing at the Pac-10s and NCAAs, despite the loss of some key point-scoring athletes. For the first time in school history, USC has two 7-4 high jumpers (currently ranked third and fourth nationally) on the same roster. Junior Jesse Williams, who soared 7-5 to win the 2005 NCAA Indoor high jump crown in March, and freshman Manjula Wijesekara, a 2004 Olympian from Sri Lanka, will help lead USC in the field competition. The Trojans can also expect points from senior Allen Simms (2003 NCAA Indoor triple jump champ), the best horizontal combo jumper in the country. Simms' marks are second in the nation in the triple jump (55-2 ¾) and fourth in the long jump (25-9 ¼). On the track, the Trojans have the second fastest 4x100m relay unit in the country (Arizona State's B team is first), running 38.89 at the Mt. SAC Relays to put them third on the USC all-time list, marking the school's fastest time since 1980. The sprinting corps is led by senior Wes Felix, the two-time defending Pac-10 200m champ and an integral part of the 400m relay. The mid-distance squad is a pillar of strength for USC this season, knocking on the top 10 charts with the top three 800m runners all under 1:49. This team, with its great mix of youth and experience, has the potential to be head coach Ron Allice's strongest NCAA squad in over a decade.

2005 WOMEN'S TRACK AND FIELD--This year, the Trojans are led by junior All-American hurdler Virginia Powell. She won the 60m crown at the 2005 NCAA Indoor Championships in March and has one of the country's top outdoor times in the 100m hurdles (12.70w) ; she also is first in the Pac-10 at 11.15w in the 100m. Sophomore Candice Davis is having a solid season, with a personal-best 13.13w in the 100m HH and 1:01.69 in the 400m IH. The Women of Troy sprinting core is young, but talented. The Trojans have three 100m runners in the Pac-10's top five. Senior Alexis Weatherspoon ran a season-best, wind-aided 11.31 at the dual meet and is tied for second place in the Pac-10 with Porchea Carroll of Arizona State. Freshman Jessica Onyepunuka just won the 100m at the UCSD Triton Invitational and ran a season-best 11.43w for fifth in the Pac-10. Onyepunuka is also strong in the 200m (10th in Pac-10 at 23.83). Also look out for freshmen Carol Rodriguez and Jasmine Lee in the sprints. In the mid-distance area, sophomore Treani Swain and senior Gina Clayton are second and third in the Pac-10 in the 800m after they shaved two seconds each off their personal-bests last week against UCLA. Senior Iryna Vashchuk is having another solid season and currently leads the Pac-10 in the 1500m after running 4:17.08 in the invitational race at the Mt. SAC Relays. On the field, the Women of Troy jumpers have been plagued by injuries this season. Look for the pole vaulters, led by senior Melissa Astete (winner of USC's 2005 Willis O. Hunter award for highest cumulative GPA among graduating seniors) and sophomore Brittani Bernhard, to come out strong after struggling at the UCSD Triton Invitational and the UCLA dual meet. Sophomore Julia Rozenfeld has been consistent in the hammer and is looking for her best performance of the season this weekend. Overall, the team is young but talented.

RECORD HOLDERS AND TOP 10--Several current Trojan athletes have made their mark on the school top 10 lists. New entries this year include Treani Swain (8th, 2:05.93) and Gina Clayton (10th, 2:06.58) in the 800m, Iryna Vashchuk (2nd, 16:28.71) in the 5,000m, Candice Davis (T2nd, 13.14) behind Virginia Powell in the 100m HH (12.74) and also moved to seventh in the 400m IH after running 59.56 at the dual meet, Kristen Berglas (2nd, 11:06.70) and Harlye Maya (4th, 12:22.50) in the 3000m SC and Brittani Bernhard soared 12-11 ½ to tie with Melissa Astete for first in the pole vault. On the men's side, Wes Felix, who was already seventh on the 200m list, broke into the top-10 in the 100m after winning the dual meet (10th, 20.43), Manjula Wijesekara shattered a 25-year-old freshman record in the high jump (T3rd, 7-4 ½ ), and Adam Midles made his way to seventh in the hammer (216-0). Other Trojan top performers competing include Virginia Powell in the 100m HH (1st, 12.74, second on Pac-10 all-time list) and the 100m (6th, 11.32), Tracee Thomas in the 400m (6th, 52.99), Iryna Vashchuk in the 1500m (2nd, 4:12.79) Julia Rosenfeld in the hammer (4th, 203-1), Kate Hutchinson in the discus (5th, 168-1), Leslie Erickson (2nd, 168-11) and Andrea McBride (3rd, 161-7) in the javelin, Tomasz Babiskiewicz in the 1500m (3rd, 3:43.41), Jesse Williams in the high jump (2nd, 7-5), Allen Simms in the triple jump (1st, 56-7 1/2, also a Pac-10 record) and the long jump (4th, 26-3 ¾) and Dennis Rice (4th, 211-6) in the javelin.

LAST YEAR'S MEET--At the 2004 Pac-10 Championships, Wes Felix became the first Pac-10 sprinter since 1995 to win consecutive 200m crowns after he ran a personal-best 20.43. Allen Simms leaped 53-3 to win the Pac-10 crown in the triple jump, marking USC's fourth-consecutive win in the event (the last time a Pac-10 school won four-straight triple jump titles was in 1977-1980 with UCLA's Willie Banks and Chip Benson. Jesse Williams jumped 7-2 ¼ to place second in the high jump and the men's 400m relay squad also took second. Anthony Heckman ran a personal-best 1:49.13 to place third in the 800m. Phillip Francis finished sixth in the 100m (10.46) and fifth in the 200m (21.08), Tomasz Babiskiewicz finished sixth in the 1500m (3:46.69), Blake Frazier took sixth (14.55) and Kenneth Thomas finished eighth (14.73) in the 100m HH. For the women, Virgina Powell cruised to the 100-meter title in 11.32 and finished third in the 100M HH at a personal-best 13.07. Iryna Vashchuk was also a Pac-10 champion for the Women of Troy, winning the 1500m in 4:20.95. The 400m relay squad ran 44.13 to finished as the runner-up to first-place UCLA. Tracee Thomas finished sixth ( 53.77) and Alexis Weatherspoon was fifth (11.66) in the 100m, Treani Swain was sixth (2:10.15) and Gina Clayton was eighth (2:13.32) in the 800m and the 1600m relay squad finsihed fourth in 3:38.40.

USC'S NCAA TITLE HISTORY--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, far more than any other school. 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. The Trojans also have had 108 individual champions over the years. The Women of Troy won their first NCAA team championship in 2001 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. The Women of Troy have had 19 individual collegiate champions.

USC COACH Ron Allice AT THE PAC-10S--Trojan coach Ron Allice's men's teams have won three conference team titles (1997, 1999, 2000) and have two second-place finishes in his nine years at the helm. On the women's side, he has won once (1996), while finishing second five times.

RANDOM NOTES--USC's 4x100m relay team is one of the strongest units in the country and is reminiscent of USC's storied sprinting past. Junior Phillip Francis, senior Wes Felix, freshman Lionel Larry and senior Marvin Anderson ran USC's fastest time in 25 years --38.89-- at the Mt. SAC Relays on April 17. Unfortunately, Lionel Larry was injured at the 2005 Oxy Invite and will not compete in the Pac-10's, but the Trojans are deep and still well-equipped to be competitve this weekend.....Wes Felix is looking to become the first man to win back-to-back-to-back 200m conference crowns in the history of the race (USC's Lennox Miller won the 200-yard crown from 1967-1969). His time is currently second in the conference, five-tenths of a second behind WSU's James McSwain..... If senior Allen Simms, who holds the USC and Pac-10 triple jump records, defends his triple jump title, it will be the fifth year in a row that a Trojan athlete has won the event (Djeke Mambo won in 2001, and Julien Kapek won in 2002 and 2003).....In March, junior Jesse Williams became the first Trojan to ever win the NCAA Indoor high jump crown and has the opportunity to become the first Trojan ever to win the men's NCAA indoor and outdoor high jump crown in the same season and only the second Trojan in 45 years to win an outdoor high jump crown.....In his first year at Troy, Manjula Wijesekara broke the 25-year-old USC freshman record in the high jump (7-2 ½ set by Anthony Caire at the UCLA dual meet May 1, 1982) with his season-best 7-4 ½ jump at the Mt. SAC Relays..... Three Trojans--freshman Duane Soloman (1:47.84), senior Anthony Heckman (1:48.41) and sophomore Raphael Asafo-Agyei (1:48.53)--are ranked in the Pac-10's top five in the 800m...Junior Virginia Powell, the Pac-10's best sprinter/hurlder combo since Gail Devers, is looking to defend her 100m crown (her 11.15 leads the Pac-10) and win her first conference crown in the 100m HH (her 12.70 also leads the Pac-10)...Sophomore Candice Davis has improved her personal-best mark in the highs from 13.93 to 13.14 (third in Pac-10 and tied for second on USC's all-time list)...Senior Iryna Vashchuk is also looking to defend her 1,500m crown (she also won the 2005 West Regionals in the event) and her 4:17.08 mark is currently first in the Pac-10...The Women of Troy have dominated the Pac-10 in both the 400m and 1600m relays this season. Powell, Rodriguez, Weatherspoon and Onyepunuka ran a season-best 43.82 to win the 400m relay at the Texas Relays (first in the Pac-10). The solid 4x400m relay unit is also first in the Pac-10 at 3:33.78.....Sophomore Julia Rozenfeld is the USC freshman record holder in the hammer and finished 10th in the event at the 2004 NCAA Championships. Rozenfeld's personal-best 203-1 throw at the Ben Brown Invitational is currently third in the Pac-10 and she is coming off an upset victory at the dual meet.

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