Kelley And Solomon Advance To NCAA Finals
June 12, 2008
DES MOINES, IOWA - Seniors Kai Kelley in the 400m intermediate hurdles and Duane Solomon in the 800m race both advanced to the finals in their events to lead the Trojans today (June 12) at the 2008 NCAA Track and Field Championships being held at Jim Duncan Track and Johnny Bright Field on the campus of Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Also, sophomores Shalina Clarke and Nia Ali in the women's 100m HH and Kelley in the men's 110m HH advanced to the NCAA semifinals in their events.
Freshman Kristine Busa was the first Trojan to compete on Thursday when she participated in the loaded women's javelin competition which featured five of the all-time best collegiate throwers. Busa had a best throw of 150-11 (45.99m) and was not one of the top 12 competitors which advanced to Saturday's finals.
The first Trojans on the track for USC were Clarke and Ali in the women's 100m high hurdles. The top three finishers in each heat and then the next four best times would move on to the semifinals tomorrow. Clarke was first and she placed second in her heat with a time of 13.21, the fourth-fastest time on the day. Winning her heat was defending NCAA champion Tiffany Ofili of Michigan who set a new track record with a time of 12.73. Ali also placed second in her heat with a time of 13.24 to advance to tomorrow's semifinals. Ali's time tied for the sixth fastest qualifying mark.
The men's 110m HH was next with seniors Logan Taylor and Kelley scheduled to run. Taylor was first and he ran 13.81 to place fifth in his heat. His time was .02 seconds behind the fourth non-automatic qualifier already eliminating him with two heats to go. As it turned out, his 13.81 time was fifth-fastest non-automatic mark, meaning he missed advancing to the semifinals by the .02 seconds. Kelley surged back at the end of his 110m HH race to capture third with a time of 13.90 and advance to tomorrow's semifinals.
Kelley then came back to run a PR of 49.79 in the men's 400m intermediate hurdles semifinals to place fourth in his heat. The top three in each heat advanced automatically and Kelley's time was good enough to grab one of the two time qualier positions and advance to Friday's finals. Kelley's time improved his eighth-place standing on USC's all-time 400m IH list, topping his previous best of 49.92 set at the Pac-10 Championships on May 17 this season.
Solomon then won his 800m semifinals heat with a time of 1:47.60 to automatically advance to Saturday's finals. His time was tied for the third fastest among the finals qualifiers. Solomon placed seventh in the NCAA 800m finals last season and he took fifth place as a sophomore.
The final group of Trojans to hit the track was the women's 4x400m relay quartet of sophomores Elizabeth Olear, Clarke, Judith Onyepunuka and Myra Hasson and it placed fourth in its heat with a time of 3:35.96 and did not qualify for the finals.
The Trojans will have six athletes competing in the NCAA Championship finals tomorrow which will be televised on the CBS College Sports Network (formerly CSTV) from 5-8 p.m. PT. Those athletes competing to win an individual NCAA title and score points for USC in the team competition are redshirt junior Corey White in the men's javelin, junior Eva Orban in the women's hammer throw, redshirt sophomore Manjula Wijesekara in the men's high jump, freshman Zsofia Erdelyi in the women's 3000m steeplechase, senior Jessica Onyepunuka in the women's 100 dash and Kelley in the men's 400m IH.
USC seniors Lionel Larry and Rodriguez will compete tomorrow in the semifinals of the men's and women's 400m races and Ali, Clarke and Kelley will run in the short hurdles semifinals.
Sophomore Shana Woods will see her first action of the meet tomorrow as she is set to compete in the first four events of the heptathlon. Also, senior Michelle Sanford will take part in the women's triple jump qualifying round.