Track Event Previews: Pac-10 Track & Field Championships

- Championship Central

Field Event Previews

TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Arizona will host the 2011 Pac-10 Track and Field Championships, Fri., May 13, and Sat., May. 14, at Roy P. Drachman Stadium. This weekend's field events will feature some of the NCAA's top competitors in every event. The sprints, hurdles and relays will play an important part in the team competition and are always a fan-favorite at these meets. Here's a preview of the sprints, hurdles and relays:



With the departure of USC phenom Ahmad Rashad, who swept the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the conference championships last year, the short sprint crowns are up for grabs in 2011 on the men's side. Arizona State freshman Ryan Milus leads the conference this season at 100 meters, clocking a wind-aided time of 10.07 at the Sun Devil Open earlier this season. Washington's James Alaka has the fastest non-wind-aided time of the season at 10.34 while Arizona's Chris McSwain, the conference champion indoors at 60 and 200 meters, will look to put his name in the mix with the third-best time this season (wind-aided 10.37).


The 200-meter dash could be anyone's race this year with six student-athletes entering with times of 21 seconds or under and all within three-tenths of a second of each other. UCLA sophomore Maxwell Dyce leads the way with a season best of 20.77 with USC's Bryson Nellum right behind him in 20.81. Milus, Alaka and McSwain have all posted impressive times this season in what could be one of the closest races of the competition.


The Pac-10 has had recent history with producing strong 400-meter runners on the men's side and this year is no exception.  Last year's NCAA Outdoor third-place finisher and defending Pac-10 Champion Joey Hughes of USC leads the pack again this season, posting a season best of 45.46, which currently ranks fifth in the nation. Fellow Trojan Josh Mance has also posted a strong season with the second-fastest time in the Pac-10 this year at 45.74. Keep an eye on Oregon freshman Mike Berry, who comes in with the third-fastest time and could be a sleeper in the event at his first conference championships.


On the women's side, another freshman leads the ranks at 100 meters with USC's Jessica Davis clocking a best this year of 11.21.  She's trailed by a pair of Oregon Ducks in English Gardner (11.30) and Amber Purvis (11.42). Davis also has the conference's second-fastest time at 200 meters this season (22.98) just behind teammate Aareon Payne, who leads the conference with a 2011 best of 22.83. Purvis holds the conference's third-best time of 23.13.


Purvis could score many points for the Ducks as she has also posted the season's best time in the 400-meter dash at 52.80, giving her top-three times in all of the sprinting events. There will be a lot of blue and gold on her heels though, with UCLA student-athletes holding down the second, third and fourth positions in the conference. Senior Ashlea McLaughlin (52.95) leads the way, followed by sophomore Turquoise Thompson (53.13) and senior Joy Eaton (53.21).



Washington State senior Jeshua Anderson will look to win his fourth Pac-10 title in the 400-meter hurdles and has posted the nation's second-fastest time this season in 49.33 in his only 400-meter hurdles appearance of the season thus far. The two-time NCAA Champion set the meet record at this event last year and could make history again this weekend.


Featuring four student-athletes ranked in the top-12 on the NCAA descending order list, the women's 400-meter hurdles are sure to excite. UCLA sophomore Turquoise Thompson leads the way with her season best of 55.88 - the second-fastest time in the country this year. Thompson will have two All-Americans in Arizona State's Jasmine Cheney (56.61) and USC's Delilah Muhammad (56.98) looking to run her down as well as Arizona's Georganne Moline (57.41)


USC All-American Oscar Spurlock leads the way in the 110-meter hurdles on the men's side, entering the weekend with a season best of 13.33.  Fellow Trojan Brendan Ames has posted a 2011 best of 13.42 for the second-fastest time in the conference.

USC heptathlete-turned-hurdler Nia Ali is a force to be reckoned with in the 100-meter hurdles.  The senior has finished first or second in every hurdle event she has taken part in this season and has not run a time slower than 13 seconds, though several of those times have been wind-aided, including her season best of 12.74. Arizona senior Latisha Holden enters with the second-fastest time in the conference with a wind-aided 13.09.



The Oregon women lead the way in the 4x400-meter relay, with the team of Chizoba Okodogbe, Amber Purvis, Phyllis Francis and Laura Roesler posting a season best of 3:32.63 at the Mt. SAC Relays. Coincidentally, that time came in beating the conference's second-best relay in Arizona State, as Alycia Herring, Kayla Sanchez, Keia Pinnick and Jasmine Chaney clocked a time of 3:33.22 in a runner-up finish at the meet.


The USC men's 4x400-meter relay team looks to be the force in the event this weekend. The foursome of Joey Hughes, Josh Mance, Duane Walker and Reggie Wyatt have posted a season-best time of 3:02.87 - nearly five seconds faster than any other team in the conference this season.


The top five squads in the men's 4x100-meter relay have posted times this season within three tenths of a second of each other, led by UCLA's season best of 39.28. Oregon comes in with the best women's 4x100-meter relay time of 43.82 but USC (43.95) and Arizona State (44.46) are always consistent front-runners in the event and could easily slip into the top spot this weekend.


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