USC Advances To Seven Finals At NCAA Women's T&F Championships

    June 9, 2016

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    EUGENE, ORE. -- Tynia Gaither and Deanna Hill in both the 100m and 200m, Jaide Stepter in the 400m IH and both relays advanced to Saturday finals on the first day of the women's competition at the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. today (June 9).

    USC's action began with the women's 4x100m relay. To advance in the running events, you need to finish top two in your heat or have one of the two next-fastest times. USC's team of junior Destinee Brown, sophomore Hill, senior Alexis Faulknor and senior Gaither won the third heat with a season-best time and seventh-fastest time in school history of 43.39. Gaither got the stick slightly behind Kentucky on her left and Tennessee on her right and immediately split through them with a burst and out-raced them to the line for the win and onto the finals.

    Gaither and Hill were up next for the Trojans in the women's 100m semifinals about and hour and 15 minutes later. Gaither went first in the second heat and took second with a PR of 11.19 (+1.1) to automatically advance. Her time moved her from eighth to tied for seventh on USC's all-time 100m dash list. Hill then took second in the third heat with a PR of 11.21 (+1.3) to automatically advance. Her time also moved her to ninth on USC's all-time list. Gaither ended up with the second-fastest and Hill the fifth-fastest time (.003 out of fourth) among the qualifiers.

    Sophomore Kendall Ellis was in the third and final heat of the women's 400m race and placed fifth with a time of 52.59. That knocked her out of reaching the finals and she ended up with the 10th-fastest time, earning second-team All-America honors.

    Freshman Margaux Jones' first attempt in the women's long jump went for 19-8.75/6.01m (-0.6) and put her in 13th after the first round. Faulknor opened with a foul, then landed a jump of 19-6.75/5.96m (-0.7) in the second round to move into 17th place. Jones then improved to 20-5.25/6.23m (-0.8) to move into seventh after two rounds. Faulknor launched a jump of 20-4.50/6.21m (-0.2) in her third attempt to move into a ninth-place tie, but owned the tie-breaker with a better second jump than Florida's Yanis David. David had one jump left and it went 1.5 inches farther than Faulknor's second-best jump to drop her to 10th and out of the finals. Jones' third jump was no improvement (20-2.25) and she advanced to the finals in eighth. She then fouled in her fourth and fifth attempts and slid into ninth with one round left. Unfortunately, she fouled in her last attempt and finished ninth to earn second-team All-America honors. She was one of two freshmen in the country to reach the women's long jump finals. David of Florida turned out to be public enemy No. 1 as her fifth-round jump knocked Jones down to ninth place, meaning she knocked Faulknor out of the finals and moved Jones out of a scoring position.

    Junior Amalie Iuel ran in the first heat of the women's 400m IH and posted a time of 56.88 to finish fourth. She had the last qualifying spot on time, but two heats remained. The senior Stepter ran in the second heat of the 400m IH and placed second with a time of 56.18 to automatically advance. Unfortunately, the third-place finisher had a time of 56.83 which knocked Iuel out of contention. When all the heats were complete, Stepter had the sixth-fastest and Iuel the 10th-fastest time on the day.

    An hour after qualifying in the 100m dash, Gaither and Hill came back and took care of business in the women's 200m dash. First, Gaither was second in the second heat with a time of 22.81 (-0.5) to automatically advance to the final. Then, Hill ran 22.85 (-0.1) to take second in the third heat and also automatically advance to the final on Saturday. Gaither had the fourth-fastest and Hill the sixth-fastest time among the qualifiers.

    The final event of the day was the women's 4x400m relay and USC ran a team of Ellis, Iuel, junior Cameron Pettigrew and Stepter. Ellis got the Trojans out in front of the second heat and they carried the stick around remaining in first with a time of 3:30.36 to automatically advance to the finals. Ellis was credited with a 52.8 split, Iuel a 51.8 split, Pettigrew a 53.09 split and Stepter a 52.77 anchor leg. USC's time was the fourth-fastest among the teams advancing to the finals.

    Tomorrow sophomore Ricky Morgan Jr. will compete in the men's 400m final and sophomore Randall Cunningham will compete in the men's high jump on the final day of the men's championships.