USC Men in 4th & Women In 9th After First Day Of Pac-12 T&F Championships

    Senior Remington Conatser won his second consecutive Pac-12 hammer throw title.

    May 17, 2014

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    PULLMAN, WASH. - Remington Conatser won his second consecutive men's hammer throw title, Alexis Faulknor was third in the women's long jump, Viktor Fajoyomi was fourth in the men's long jump, Jeff Churchman was sixth in the men's javelin throw and Tanya Sapa was seventh in the women's shot put to highlight the Trojans' first day at the Pac-12 Track & Field Championships being hosted by Washington State at Mooberry Track & Field Complex in Pullman, Wash today (May 17) before 1,127 fans. After eight events in the men's team competition, USC is in fourth place with 29 points and after seven events in the women's competition, USC is in ninth place with 18 points. There will be 13 men's and 14 women's finals on the final day of the championships.

    The senior Conatser got the championships off to a good start for the Trojans by winning the men's hammer throw with a mark of 232-8 (70.92m). He took the lead for good on his first attempt which was a mark of 226-10 (69.14m) which would have won the event had he not improved. He then threw 230-0 (70.11m) in his third attempt and his best throw of 232-8 coming in his fifth attempt. A USC athlete has won the Pac-12 men's hammer throw title in four of the last five seasons and Conatser's winning mark was the best for a conference champion since Balazs Kiss of USC won in 1996 with a throw of 254-1 (77.46m). Last year Conatser won the conference hammer throw title with a throw of 222-10.

    "It was a pretty solid performance," said Conatser. "We worked through a lot of stuff. My coach (Dan Lange) and I have pretty good communication so where there was a little technical thing that needed to be done, he let me know and I tried to apply it in the ring and it turned out alright. It's good for right now, for where we're at, we're still training heavy. So for that kind of distance to come back, it's really nice. We're going to be lightening up a little bit towards NCAA's. Hopefully more distance comes back. We're really competitive for the Pac-12 title, I think they have us finishing second. Coach Caryl (Smith Gilbert) isn't all about second. Coming out with the win and getting 10 points for my team, it means a lot that I can contribute."

    The first women's final was the long jump which featured the sophomore Faulknor and senior Oluwakemi Olonade. Faulknor had a best jump of 20-0.25/6.10m (+1.5) in the second flight to advance to the finals in third place. Oluwakemi had a best jump of 18-1/5.51m (+0.5) to finish 15th. Faulknor remained in third, but had a season-best leap of 20-4.50/6.21m (+1.8) in her last attempt. Faulknor scored six points for the Trojans in the team compettition to give USC 16 points after two completed women's events (also heptathlon).

    The next Trojan in a final was the freshman Sapa and she placed seventh in the women's shot put to earn USC two more points in the team competition. Sapa had a season-best shot put of 49-11.25/15.22m in her fifth attempt to earn seventh. She had fouled in her first two attempts and then nailed a clutch throw of 48-0.50/14.54m in her third attempt to move into eighth place and advance to the finals where she placed seventh with her best throw.

    The senior Churchman just snuck into the men's javelin finals in ninth place with a best throw of 194-2 (59.18m) in his second attempt. He then fouled in his fourth attempt to remain in ninth with two throws remaining. He did not improve with a throw of 187-3 in his fifth throw, so he would need to come up big on his final throw to earn any points. He started his run-up, then stopped and decided to try again. It apparently was a great decision has he then threw a PR of 219-4 (66.85m) to move temporarily into fifth place and ultimately into sixth place to score three points for the Trojan men's team. He also bettered his fifth-place standing on USC's all-time list. His previous best throw was 218-1 set at the USC-UCLA Dual Meet on May 4.

    Redshirt sophomore Jovante Slater got things off to a good start in the men's long jump competition by winning the first flight with a collegiate best jump of 23-9.50/7.25m (+1.9). He would have to await the results of the second flight,which featured his teammate Fajoyomi, to see if he advanced to the final three rounds. Fajoyomi's first jump was for 24-3.00/7.39m (+1.9) to move him into third and Slater had dropped into fifth after the first round of the second flight. After the second flight was done, Fajoyomi did not have a better jump and stood in sixth and Slater had dropped to ninth, the last person advancing to the finals. Slater did not improve and had to squeeze in his final attempt which was a foul, before running over to get in the blocks for the 200m race. Fajoyomi had dropped into seventh entering his final jump and he landed a wind-aided jump of 24-5.50/7.45m (+3.1w) to finish in fourth place and earn the men's team five points.

    The first running event with a final for the women's team was the 3000m steeplechase with junior Kira Soderstrom and sophomore Jenna Tong were entered. The runners were unable to match or better their PRs which it would have taken to score, with Soderstrom placing 14th with a time of 11:13.06 and Tong 16th with a time of 11:44.69

    The men's 4x100m relay team of senior Aleec Harris, senior Aaron Brown, junior BeeJay Lee and junior Davonte Stewart got the running portion of the meet started for the Trojan men by winning its heat and placing second overall with a time of 39.81. They automatically advanced to tomorrow's final. The women's 4x100m relay team did not have to run today due to just eight teams entered, so they all advanced to the tomorrow's final.

    Sophomore Katerina Berdousi was the first Trojan woman to compete and she took ninth in the first heat and 24th overall n the 1500m race with a time of 4:38.69. Redshirt sophomore Bryan Jordan then placed eighth in his heat and 21st overall in the men's 1500m race with a time of 3:58.08. The top three of each heat and the next three best times advanced to the finals.

    The next running race was the women's 100m HH. Senior Lauren Blackburn running with a taped up leg due to an injury she suffered in practice earlier this week, showed no ill effect in winning her heat and posting the best time on the day of 13.30 (-1.0). In fact, Blackburn set the Mooberry Track record which had been 13.31 set in 1994 by Sau-Ying Chan of USC.

    Not to be outdone, Harris had the best qualifying time in the men's 110m HH of 13.55 (-0.8), also a Mooberry Track record. That record had stood since 1990. Junior Allen Williams took sixth in the second heat and ninth overall with a time of 14.59 (-0.8). The last qualifier for the finals had a time of 14.58.

    USC had three runners in the women's 400m race and they all advanced to tomorrow's finals. First, junior Akawkaw Ndipagbor took second in the first heat and seventh overall with a time of 53.68. Next, junior Vanessa Jones took second in the second heat and sixth overall with a time of 53.40. And finally, senior Ashley Liverpool was third in the third heat and fifth overall with a season-best time of 53.21.

    Freshman Alex Rohani continued his strong late-season running and advanced to the men's 400m final tomorrow by matching his season best of 46.98 to place second in his heat and fourth overall.

    The USC women advanced three runners to the 100m final tomorrow in senior Jessica Davis, Faulknor and sophomore Tynia Gaither. Davis won her heat and was first overall with a time of 11.23 (+2.2w), while Faulknor was second in the same heat and third overall with a time of 11.43 (+2.2w). Gaither stormed from behind over the final 25 meters to win the third heat and finish fourth overall with a time of 11.44 (+0.6). Senior Loudia Laarman was second in the second heat, but finished ninth overall with a time of 11.66 run into a -2.2 wind.

    Brown then set the Mooberry Track men's 100m dash record by matching his season-best time of 10.16 (+1.5) to win the second heat and finish first overall. The defending champion Lee won the first heat with a time of 10.43 (-0.6) to automatically advance and senior Terence Abram had a PR of 10.57 (-0.6) to take third in the first heat and sixth overall to advance to his first Pac-12 100m final. Junior Bryan Mercado was third in the second heat with a time of 10.65 (+1.5) to finish ninth and Slater was fifth in the third heat and tied for 14th with a time of 10.72 (-1.0).

    The Trojans were not as fortunate in the 800m races as sophomore Natasha Strickland placed 22nd in the women's race with a time of 2:16.36, while junior Myles Andrews placed 18th in the men's race with a time of 1:53.98.

    Sophomore Jaide Stepter was up next in the women's 400m IH and she won the first heat with a time of 58.74 to automatically advance to tomorrow's final. Freshman Amalie Iuel was third in the second heat and fifth overall with a time of 59.20 to advance. Stepter had the third-fastest qualifying time.

    The men's 400m hurdlers did not have as much good fortune. Junior Jemal Williams was in the first heat and was out well, but tripped over the third hurdle, tumbled to the ground and ultimately finished sixth in his heat and 18th overall with a time of 59.13. Freshman Chase Peterson finished strong down the stretch to finish third in the second heat with a time of 54.79. He stood in seventh after the first two heats but fell to 11th once the final heat was run.

    The final event on the day for the Trojans was the 200m races. The women went first and Gaither won the first heat with a time of 23.44 (-1.3) to automatically advance with the third-fastest time on the day. Davis then won the third heat with a time of 23.83 (-2.0) and Jones was second in the heat with a time of 23.84 (-2.0). They finished fifth and sixth respectively among the qualifiers. Faulknor was second in the final heat with a time of 23.94 (-1.6) which ended up ninth and Laarman was third in the heat and 12th overall with a time of 24.33 (-1.6).

    Lee won the first heat of the men's 200m dash with a time of 21.24 (+0.5) to automatically advance and fifth overall among the qualifiers. Junior Davonte Stewart won the third heat and finished seventh overall with a time of 21.34 (+0.4), while Slater was third in the heat and 13th overall with a time of 21.53. Finally, Brown won the fourth heat with a time of 20.80 (-1.5) which was the best time among the qualifiers. Abram finished fifth in the heat and 19th overall with a time of 21.96 (-1.5).

    The USC women's team enters the final day with 20 individuals and two relay teams with a chance to score, while the men's team has 11 individuals and two relay teams competing in event finals.