Stepter In 400m IH & The Women's 4x400m Relay Win Pac-12 Titles

    Standout senior student-athlete Jaide Stepter spent a lot of time getting recognized at Husky Track in Seattle, Wash. today. She was honored for being named the Pac-12 Women's T&F Student-Athlete of the Year, won her third-straight conference 400m IH title and then finally anchored USC's title-winning 4x400m relay team.
    May 16, 2016

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    SEATTLE, WASH. -- USC's Jaide Stepter won her third consecutive 400m IH title and the women's 4x400m relay won its fourth consecutive title to lead the Trojans on the final day of the Pac-12 Track & Field Championships hosted by Washington at Husky Track in Seattle, Wash. today (May 15). USC's women's team finished second with 111.50 points and the undermanned men's team placed fifth with a total of 75 points.

    "We had a scrappy weekend, we fought to the bitter end," said USC Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert. "We had a lot of bright spots like Jaide Stepter and Adoree' Jackson. I was very please with all the PRs and performances we were able to come away with. A fifth-place finish on the men's side was a pretty decent feat considering we are redshirting Just'N Thymes, we lost Andre De Grasse to a professional contract and we had to redshirt last minute Eric Sloan due to a pinched nerve in his back. The men did a great job of coming together. Randall Cunningham helped us get through to the 4x100m finals and we ended up taking second in that event with a season-best time.

    "The weather didn't help much. It was 50 degrees, windy and cold which isn't best for the sprints, jumps and hurdles which is primarily what our team is built on. On the women's side, second place was acceptable being that we had to pull Amalie Iuel out of the competition due to an injury she sustained to her elbow in pre-meet on Friday. We don't know if it is season-ending at this point, we will find out this week. It has just been a strange season with injuries. I was proud of everybody fighting hard and doing what they could under the circumstances. We had graduation and finals this week and everybody is on an emotional high and a lot of people were exhausted from finals and we did a good job considering all of the things we had to go through at USC. Now we are able to go back and train solely for track and field, get rested, get health, put our best foot forward for NCAA Round 1.

    "My coaches did a great job of holding things together and keeping everybody healthy. We will move on and make some decisions regarding what we have to do to be ready for the National Championship in the next few weeks."

    The senior Stepter ran in her signature event the 400m IH and became a three-time conference champion, taking the title with a PR of 55.22. That time moved her from third to second on USC's all-time list. Stepter becomes the second Trojan to win three consecutive conference 400m IH titles, the other being school record-holder and Olympic medalist Natasha Danvers who accomplished the feat from 1998-2000. Junior Amalie Iuel, the 2015 Pac-12 400m IH runner-up to Stepter, was scratched from the race due to a sprained right elbow. Stepter earned USC 10 points.

    "To come out and get my third title in the 400m hurdles is just amazing. Glory to God, he's the only one who made it possible," said Stepter.

    Later in the day, she teamed with sophomore Kendall Ellis, junior Cameron Pettigrew, sophomore Deanna Hill to win the 4x400m relay by more than two seconds with a time of 3:34.14. It was the USC women's fourth consecutive Pac-12 title in the event. USC earned 10 points to finish with 111.50 in the meet, good for its third straight second-place finish.

    Senior Erika Peyton got things started for the Trojans by placing sixth in the women's hammer throw with a best mark of 186-3 (56.77m) to earn the Trojans three points. Peyton advanced to the finals in ninth, but had her best throw in round four to move into sixth place where she remained. Since the women began competing in the hammer throw in 1996 at the Pac-12 meet, throws coach Dan Lange has guided a USC women's thrower to at least a top six finish, including four titles.

    The women's 4x100m relay team of junior Destinee Brown, Hill, Stepter and senior Tynia Gaither got things going on the track by taking second with a time 43.46. That was a season-best time and the eighth-fastest time in school history. USC earned eight points in the event.

    The men's 4x100m relay team of sophomore Ricky Morgan, redshirt senior Isaac Whitney, sophomore Adoree' Jackson and redshirt freshman Zyaire Clemes also placed second with a season-best time of 39.74. They also picked up eight points.

    Freshman Jasmyne Graham placed fourth in the women's 100m HH with a time of 13.48 (-0.5). Graham earned USC five more points in the team competition.

    Next Ellis placed second and Pettigrew third in the women's 400m race. Ellis got off to a big lead, but tied up down the stretch and was able to fight through for second with a time of 53.56. Pettigrew had a season-best time of 53.62 to take third and together the pair earned 14 points for the Trojans.

    Morgan battled Oregon's defending champion Marcus Chambers down to the wire in the men's 400m race and finished second with a time of 46.20. Also in the mix down the stretch was Clemes who took fourth with a time of 47.06. The pair scored 13 points for USC.

    Gaither finished fourth in the women's 100m dash final with a time of 11.45 (+0.0) and Hill took fifth at 11.55 (+0.0). Together Gaither and Hill earned nine more points for USC and moved the Trojans into second place.

    Jackson then placed second in the men's 100m dash final with a time of 10.44 (+0.7). He earned the USC men's team eight more points and into a fourth-place tie in the team standings.

    Freshman Mikaela Smith placed seventh in the women's 800m final with a time of 2:07.96 to earn two points for USC. Smith had the lead for most of the first 550 meters, but couldn't hold off the pack. Smith was one of just two freshman to qualify for the final.

    Sophomore Robert Ford then took eighth in the men's 800m final with a time of 1:50.86 to earn the men's team a point.

    Hill and Gaither came back to take fourth and fifth respectively in the women's 200m final, flipping their results from the 100m race. Hill had a time of 23.21 (-1.1) for fourth and Gaither a time of 23.45 (-1.1) to take fifth. Brown finished eighth with a time of 24.30 (-1.1) and along with Hill and Gaither earned the Trojans 10 points.

    Morgan returned to the track to run in the men's 200m final and placed fourth with a time of 21.24 (-0.4). He earned USC five points in the team competition.

    Senior Felicia Horvath tied for fifth in the women's pole vault with a clearance of 12-2.00 (3.71m). It was a four-way tie for fifth, so Horvath earned the Trojans 2.5 points in the team competition.

    Sophomore Randall Cunningham for the second-straight season took second in the men's high jump with a best clearance of 7-1.75 (2.18m). Only he and the winner Thane Pierson of Washington State cleared that height. Pierson then cleared 7-3 (2.21m) in his first attempt, while Cunningham went out at 7-3 to earn USC eight points for second place.

    Senior Tera Novy claimed her second-straight second-place finish in the discus throw at the Pac-12 Championships with a best mark of 186-7 (56.87m). That throw came in her first attempt which moved her into the lead, but she followed that up with five uncharacteristic foot fouls. The men's discus throw competition did not go quite as well as sophomore Nick Ponzio has a best throw of 155-0 (47.24m) to finish 16th and freshman Nathan Bultman had a mark of 119-9 (36.51m) to place 26th. Ponzio had two fouls then a safety throw which did not qualify him for the finals and Bultman had a mark in his first attempt then two fouls

    Sophomore Dominic Smallwood was the only Trojan in the triple jump and he placed 11th with a best leap of 47-5.00/14.45m (+1.6). He fouled on his first two attempts and had to land a safety jump in his third attempt, but it wasn't far enough to advance to the finals.

    USC's women's 5000m runners did not score, but they all three set collegiate bests. Senior Katerina Berdousi finished 21st with a time of 17:04.41 which is her best time as a Trojan and bettered her seventh-place standing on USC's all-time list in the event, redshirt sophomore Rebekah Ent ran her first 5000m race in track and had a time of 17:35.27 to finish 29th and senior Jenna Tong had a PR of 17:50.22 to finish 30th. Freshman Nicolaus Jakowec was the only Trojan male to compete in the men's 5000m race and he ran 14:54.63 to finish 35th.

    The men's 4x400m relay closed out the meet. USC's team of Clemes, Jackson, Ford and Morgan won the first heat with a season-best time of 3:10.46. After the second heat was complete, the Trojans had earned their final five points by finishing fourth in the event and fifth overall.


    Women: 1.) Oregon - 185, 2.) USC - 111.50, 3.) Stanford - 90, 4.) Washington - 82, 5.) UCLA - 66.50, 6.) Colorado - 66, 7.) Arizona - 62, 8.) Washington State - 45, 9.) Arizona State - 41, 10.) California - 39.50, 11.) Oregon State - 23.50, 12.) Utah - 3.

    Men: 1.) Oregon - 155.60, 2.) Washington - 122, 3.) UCLA - 94.20, 4.) Arizona State - 83, 5.) USC - 75, 6.) Stanford - 74, 7.) Colorado - 63, 8.) Arizona - 57, 9.) California - 50.60, 10.) Washington State - 41.60.