Eight Trojans Scored On Third Day Of NCAA T&F Championships

June 13, 2009

FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. - Ahmad Rashad in the 100m, Corey White in the javelin and Eva Orban in the hammer all finished as NCAA runner-ups to lead the USC women's team into second place and the men's team into third place today (June 12) at the 2009 NCAA Track and Field Championships being hosted by Arkansas at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Ark. before 5,430 fans. In addition, Manjula Wijesekara took third in the high jump, Dalilah Muhammad third in the 400m IH, Nia Ali fourth in the heptathlon, Kristine Busa eighth in the javelin and Zsofia Erdelyi eighth in the 3000m steeplechase.

'We had some come-through performances and some near misses today,' said USC Director of Track and Field Ron Allice. 'Some people barely missed making it to the finals, which is our objective. We just don't have too many more opportunities to score so we'll have to take advantage of those. I will say this, I'm very pleased with the way they have competed. They didn't fold their tents and competed at their highest most of the time. This is a very competitive meet and a point can make a difference whether you are a champion, in the top five or the top 10.'

The senior Orban began the day for the Trojans by placing second in the women's hammer throw competition with a best mark of 221-3 (67.45m) to earn All-America honors and gain USC its first eight points in the team competition.

Going into the meet you knew it would take an act of God to deny Orban another NCAA title and that is what happened as a three and one-half hour storm delay and tornado warning interupted action after the second round of the competition. The rains began almost simultaneously as the event, with scattered sprinkles marking the competition. Orban fouled in her first throw and then threw 216-0 (65.84m) in her second throw to stand in second place before the interuption. Orban's next throw was 219-6 (66.91m) which left her in second and into the finals behind eventual winner Stevi Large of Akron who had a throw of 221-10 in the first round. Orban inched closer with her fourth throw, a strike of 221-3 but did not improve in her final two attempts. Large's first throw was a PR by nine inches and after Orban was completed and Large had won the event, she took her final throw and improved to 223-4. As a giddy Large jogged by on the way to the awards podium, she shouted spontaneously 'I'm definitely happy!'

'I came here to win, but it didn't happen,' said Orban. 'I did everything I could, but I am very disappointed. The weather didn't affect me at all. This just wasn't my meet and it didn't happen today. Stevi did a good job. She PR'd twice. PR-ing at the NCAAs is a big deal. She did great today.'

Junior Trojan heptathletes Ali and Shana Woods resumed the final three events in the heptathlon also after the rains subsided. Ali entered the day in first place with a total of 3,663 points and Woods in 15th place with 3,321 points.

The long jump was the first event and Ali went a season-best 19-4 (5.89m) to earn 816 points and Woods jumped 19-9 3/4 to earn 862 points. After four events, Ali dropped to second place and Woods moved up into 10th. Woods had the fourth-best mark in the event, but Bettie Wade of Michigan won the long jump at 20-9 1/4 to gain 953 points to take the lead over Ali 4,554-4,479.

In the javelin Ali had a solid throw of 127-3 (38.80m), but dropped into second place as Pac-10 Champion Brianne Theisen had a big throw and new PR of 148-0 (45.11m) to outscore Ali 766-644 and take a 5,190-5,123 lead into the final event. Woods' only clean throw went for 119-0 (36.27m) to earn 596 points and she headed into the final event in 11th place with 4,779 points, 109 points out of the eighth-place scoring-position.

Both Ali and Woods struggled in the 800m race with times of 2:29.36 and 2:29.78 to score 701 and 696 points respectively. Ali earned a fourth-place finish in the heptathon with a PR of 5,824 points. That total moved her from third to second place on the Trojans' all-time heptathlon list, surpasing Nicole Haynes who registered 5,786 points in 1996. Wendy Brown set the school record with 6,079 points in 1988 which Ali can take aim at during the 2010 season. Woods finished with 5,475 points and in 13th place. Ali scored five points for USC in the team competition and earned All-America honors. She also became the first Trojan since 1996 (Haynes) to score in the heptathlon and fourth ever to finish in the top eight at the NCAAs.

Junior Aven Wright was next up in the men's triple jump preliminaries and he had a best of 49-3 1/2 (15.02m) and did not advance to the event final tomorrow.

The sophomore Erdelyi, who finished ninth at the 2008 NCAA Championships in the steeplechase, ran next in the same event and move up a spot to place eighth, earn USC a point and gain All-America honors. Erdelyi moved into eighth place over the last steeple and finished the race with a time of 10:12.31. She joined Julia Budniak (2004) as the only USC females to score in the steeplechase at the NCAA Championships.

Junior Shalina Clarke had a time of 13.45 to finish seventh in her 100m HH semifinals heat and did not advance to the final round as she needed to be in the top four of her heat or have the next best time. Unfortunately, sophomore Oscar Spurlock suffered the same fate, just more excruciatingly as he posted a time of 13.82 (actually 13.814) to place sixth in his heat, .01 out of fifth place which turned out to be the one non-automatic qualifier to advance.

While all this was going on, redshirt junior Manjula Wijesekara placed third in the men's high jump with a clearance of 7-3 3/4 (2.23m) to earn the USC men's team its first six points of the meet. He was one of three jumpers to clear that height, then missed once at 7-5 (2.26m) before passing and missing twice at 7-6 (2.29m). Wijesekara also secured All-America honors by finishing in the top eight.

Junior Elizabeth Olear was next in the women's 400m dash and she posted a time of 53.86 to place sixth in her heat and 12th overall, but did not advance to the finals. Again a similar fate was had by freshman Joey Hughes who ran 45.96 in the men's 400m race to place sixth in his heat and 11th overall. Both of these runners will be back on the track tomorrow in the finals of the men's and women's 4x400m relay.

Next, Rashad tied the fourth-fastest 100m dash time in USC history of 10.10 to finish second behind LSU's Trindon Holliday (10.00) who tied for the second-fastest time in the U.S. this season. Rashad's time not only was a PR, but became only the 11th runner in the U.S. and 23rd in the world to run a 10.10 time or better this year. Rashad earned USC eight points in the team competition and earned All-America honors. He is the 10th Trojan to score at the NCAA Championships in the 100m dash and first since Wes Felix also placed second in 2005. The only Trojan sprinter to win the 100m dash was Clancy Edwards in 1978, although USC did have six 100 yard dash champions.

Freshman Dalilah Muhammad then became the third Trojan female to ever score in the 400m IH as she placed third with a time of 56.65 to earn USC six points in the team competition. The other two Trojans to score at the NCAA Championships in the event are Leslie Maxie (1987) and Natasha Danvers (1998-2000), the only two USC runners to ever run a faster time than the phenomenal freshman.

Busa then earned All-America honors in the women's javelin and earned USC a point in the team competition by placing eighth with a throw of 164-9 (50.21m). The sophomore becomes USC's fourth female to earn All-America honors in the javelin, with the last being Inga Stasiulionyte (2001-04).

Redshirt junior Brysun Stately just missed out on scoring in the women's pole vault as she cleared 13-9 1/4 (4.20m) to place ninth. Only six other competitors jumped higher, but the seventh and eighth place finishers had fewer misses. Stately did however become a three-time outdoor All-American in the pole vault as she was one of the top eight America-born finishers.

The men's javelin was the final event at John McDonnell Field tonight and it concluded at 10:45 p.m. with USC's Corey White placing second with a best throw of 248-5 (75.72). It was White's second consecutive second-place javelin finish at the NCAAs, both times just behind Georgia's Chris Hill. White earned USC eight points in the team competition and earned All-America honors in the event.

With one day remaining in the competition, the men's team has 22 points and are in third place while the women's team is in second place with 21 points. The final day of the 2009 NCAA Track and Field Championships will be televised from 10 a.m. until noon PT. The remaining Trojans in the competition are senior Irek Sekretarski in the men's 800m finals and both the men's and women's 4x400m relay teams.

Current Team Standings:

Men:1.) Oregon - 36, 2.) LSU - 30, 3.) USC - 22, 4.) Florida - 21, 5.) Georgia - 19

Women:1.) Oregon - 39, 2.) USC - 21, 3.) Arizona State - 20, 3.) Florida State - 20, 3.) Texas - 20

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