Rodriguez Leads USC Women To Dual Meet Victory

May 3, 2008

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LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - Senior Carol Rodriguez helped lead the USC women's track and field team to an impressive 86-77 victory in the 76th annual USC-UCLA Dual Meet today (May 3) snapping a 15-season losing streak while the men's team fell 89-74 to the Bruins despite the effort by four-time winner senior Lionel Larry at Drake Stadium in Westwood, Calif.

The USC women trailed 71-69 with three events left, but outscored the Bruins 17-6 in those events to win its first Dual Meet title since 1992. First freshmen Zsofia Erdelyi (4:30.96) and Sarah Cocco (4:38.44) teammed to finish first and third respectively in the women's 1500m race to earn the Trojans six points and give them a 75-74 lead entering the final two events.

While the Trojans were looking good late in the triple jump competition at first and third, the results were not final so the 4x400m relay race was crucial. After sophomores Elizabeth Olear and Shalina Clarke ran the first two legs of the race about even with the Bruins, Rodriguez took the baton for the third leg a step or two behind and despite a sore groin and hamstring proceeded to build the Trojans a big lead. Sophomore Myra Hasson then ran a strong final leg to earn the Trojans the win and an 80-74 lead.

Redshirt senior Michelle Sanford officially clinched the meet for USC when the triple jump results were recorded as she won with a season-best jump of 43-1 1/2 (13.14m), nearly two feet farther than her previous best this season. Her five points along with the one point sophomore Ekene Anene earned for placing third with a career-best leap of 41-11 1/4 (12.78) provided the Trojans with the winning margin of 86-77.

'This means a lot to us,' said USC Director of Track and Field Ron Allice. 'As the trainers and staff can tell you we didn't have everyone available or at full health. The Dual Meet is so very significant from the standpoint of the exposure and the visibility for the fans. The difference was that we had some distance runners this year, which is not normally our flagship. This is good for morale. The men won last year and we would have liked to have seen it happen again this year, so next year the goal is to win them both in the same season'

The men's meet was tight throughout the day also as USC led 64-58 with five events left, however, UCLA swept the discus, 5000m race and the pole vault to gain 27 unanswered points and put the contest away with an 85-64 lead with only 14 points left to be scored.

The Trojans won the men's 4x400m race as sophomore Jason Price, senior Kai Kelley, senior Duane Solomon and Larry cruised to victory with a time of 3:10.56. After that, the men's triple jump results came in showing USC junior Aven Wright winning with a PR of 50-3 1/2 (15.33m) to earn the Trojans their last five points and qualify Wright for the NCAA Regionals.

Larry was a four-time winner on the day as he also was on the winning 4x100m relay team and won the 200m and 400m races. His winning time in the 400m race of 45.04 was the second fastest collegiete time this season and the fourth best in the world.

The day began with the USC women leading 6-3 and the men trailing 5-4 after Friday's hammer competition.

Freshman Kristine Busa got USC off to a good start by winning the women's javelin with a throw of 161-6 earning USC five points, while sophomore Shana Woods placed third with a career-best throw of 133-9 to garner a point for the Trojans. Woods looked like she might be able to grab second for the Trojans, but Bruin Tara Ross had more than a 20 foot improvement on her last throw to take the second-place points. Redshirt junior Arielle Sepulveda had a season-best throw of 103-0 to place fifth.

Erdelyi won her first of two events on the day by taking the women's 5000m race with a time of 17:27.59, while senior Laura Meyers (11:12.18) and sophomore Katherine Ellis (PR of 11:27.27) went 1-2 in the 3000m steeplechase to earn USC six more points. USC then picked up three points when redshirt senior Kate Hutchinson placed second in the shot put with a throw of 43-1 1/2 (13.14m).

The men picked up six points in the javelin as redshirt junior Corey White easily won with a throw of 237-11 (72.53m), while junior Stenn Parton took third with a throw of 172-0 (52.44m). The Trojans were then shut out in the 3000m steeplechase to give UCLA a 17-10 lead.

The women's 4x100m relay team of senior Jessica Onyepunuka, Clarke, Judith Onyepunuka and sophomore Nia Ali ran a season-best time of 44.07 to capture the first televised event of the day on FSN Prime Ticket to give the Trojans a 33-17 lead. The men's 4x100m relay team of junior Matthew Palmer, sophomore Ahmad Rashad, sophomore Jason Price and Larry followed suit with a winning time of 39.92 to earn five points. The key to the race for the Trojans was that 'Rocket' Rashad finally launched his 2008 season campaign after battling a hamstring injury all season. Rashad turned a close race into a comfortable Trojan lead with a blazing second leg.

The women were then swept in the pole vault and high jump to give the Bruins a 35-33 lead, while the men trailed 31-19 after the 1500m race and the shot put competition. Senior Irek Sekretarski placed second in the 1500m with a season-best time of 3:47.91, while Solomon placed third with a PR of 3:48.29. Solomon's time moved him into ninth place on the all-time list which Sekretarski already sits at sixth on with a time of 3:46.53 set last season.

The women's 100m HH looked like it might be trouble when the race favorite Clarke stumbled after hitting a hurdle, but Ali went on to win the race with a season-best time of 13.38, while Woods took second with a PR of 13.76 to earn USC eight points.

Rodriguez was pushed to the limit by the Bruins' Nicole Leach in 400m and it worked to her advantage as the senior won the race with a time of 51.39, bettering her school and Puerto Rican record in the event (51.51) and posting the best collegiate time this season. Sophomore Myra Hasson used a strong finish to surge into third place and grab the race's final point with a season-best time of 53.93.

After Hutchinson finished first in the discus with a throw of 168-10 (51.46m) and freshman Lauren Guerrieri second with a throw of 155-1 (47.27m), USC had a 55-40 lead.

Jessica Onyepunuka won the women's 100m dash with a time of 11.44, the seventh consecutive season that a Trojan female has captured the event. UCLA rebounded to sweep the women's 800m race and the Trojans lead was down to 60-53.

The next race was the women's 400m intermediate hurdles and Clarke took second with a time of 58.93, while Katie Kirst took third with a PR and regional-qualifying time of 59.79. USC then got four points in the 200m dash from Rodriguez who finished second and Jessica Onyepunuka who took third. Rodriguez was slowed by her injuries on the curve and could not make up the distance down the stretch finishing with a time of 23.35, while Onyepunuka had a season-best time of 23.47

Sanford earned USC a point in the long jump with a PR mark of 20-11 1/4 (6.38m), bettering her sixth place standing on USC's all-time long jump list. USC trailed 71-69 at that point and set up the heroics of the final three event.

The men's team started to make their move in the seventh event as Kelley and senior Logan Taylor tied for second in the men's 110m HH to gain four points. Larry ran his impressive time of 45.04 to win the men's 400m race and teammate Price came-from-behind to capture second with a PR and regional-qualifying time of 46.35 to gain the Trojans eight more points.

Then USC captured six points as Rashad again demonstrated that he was back by winning the men's 100m race with a blazing new PR of 10.26, just .03 seconds out of the Trojans all-time top 10 to earn five points. Desmond Hamilton had a season-best time of 10.69 to place third, .02 seconds out of second, gaining USC one more point. Hamilton then won the men's long jump and earned five more points with a season-best jump of 24-9 (7.56m).

USC pulled to within one point at 48-47 after Solomon won the 800m race with a time of 1:48.65. USC then catapulted into the lead with a sweep in the men's 400m IH. Kelley had a PR of 50.19 to win the event and place his name 10th all-time on the USC intermediate hurdles list. Placing second was redshirt junior Sheldon Evans with a season-best time of 52.00, while sophomore Sean Adams captured third with a PR of 52.41. Both Evans and Adams joined Kelley in posting a regional-qualifying mark in that event.

UCLA bounced right back with a sweep of their own in the men's high jump to retake the lead at 58-57. Then the captain Larry showed he was willing to do whatever it takes by jumping into the 200m race and coming away with a first-place finish with a PR and regional-qualifying time of 20.65. Rashad also qualified for the regional and placed second with a time of 20.97 to earn the Trojans a total of eight points and a 64-58 lead. That is where the Bruins registered the three consecutive sweeps to put the meet away.

Earlier in the day the Trojans clinched the season-long Lexus Gauntlet competition when the women's rowing team team defeated the Bruins to put the competition out of reach at 62.5-37.5.

The following is a complete breakdown of the live scoring by event:

		Women's Competition (USC-UCLA)			Men's Competition  (USC-UCLA)		Hammer -	  6-3				Hammer 			  4-5		Javelin		12-6				Javelin			10-8		5000m		17-10				3000m SC		10-17		3000m SC	25-11				4x100m			15-17		Shot Put		28-17				1500m			19-22		4x100m		33-17				Shot Put			19-31		Pole Vault	33-26				110m HH			23-36		High Jump	33-35				400m			31-37		100m HH	41-36				100m			37-40		400m		49-37				Long Jump		42-44		Discus		55-40				800m			47-48		100m		60-44				400m IH			56-48		800m		60-53				High Jump		56-57		400m IH		64-58				200			64-58		200m		68-63				Discus			64-67		Long Jump	69-71				5000m			64-76		1500m		75-74				Pole Vault		64-85		4x400m		80-74				Triple Jump		69-89		Triple Jump	86-77				4x400m			74-89
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