USC T&F Heads To NCAA West Preliminary Rounds In Texas

    Pac-12 Champion and USA's top hammer thrower Conor McCullough begins his quest for the NCAA title in the event at the NCAA Preliminary Rounds hosted by Texas in Austin, Texas on May 28-30.
    May 26, 2015

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    USC's No. 1-ranked women's and No. 5-ranked men's track and field teams will compete at the 2015 West Preliminary Rounds hosted by Texas at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, Texas from May 28-30. There will be 48 athletes in each event, with the top 12 after the Preliminary Rounds in each region moving on to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore. from June 10-13.

    USC'S MEN & WOMEN PLACE 2ND AT PAC-12s - Both the USC women's and men's team's placed second at the 2015 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships hosted by UCLA in Westwood, Calif. (May 16-17) as the Trojans won 13 event titles, more than any other school. The women's team won seven event titles and scored 182 points, the most ever for a second place team. The men's team won six events and finished with 121 points, the most by a second-place team since the 2010 season.

    DE GRASSE NAMED MEN'S ATHLETE OF THE MEET AT PAC-12s - The junior De Grasse turned heads at the Pac-12 Championships by winning the 100m title in 9.97 seconds and winning the 200m title with a time of 20.05, after running 20.03 in the prelims. He also ran a leg for USC's winning 4x100m relay which clocked 39.17. For his efforts, De Grasse was named the Pac-12 Men's Track Athlete of the Meet. De Grasse's 100m time of 9.97 broke the USC school record, the Pac-12 Meet record and set the UCLA Drake Stadium record. His best 200m time of 20.03 is a Canadian record and ties him for second on USC' all-time list.

    TROJANS WIN FOUR PAC-12 YEARLY HONORS - USC's Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert was named 2015 Pac-12 Men's & Women's Coach of the Year, Andre De Grasse was named the conference's Men's Track Athlete of the Year and Marquis Morris was named the Pac-12 Men's Freshman of the Year on May 20. Smith Gilbert became the first woman ever to be named the Pac-12 Men's Coach of the Year. USC won four of the Pac-12's eight yearly honors.

    TRAVELING TROJANS - USC will have 36 athletes (16 men, 20 women) declared individually or as part of a relay team at the 2014 NCAA Preliminary Rounds. The men qualifying for the Preliminary Rounds are Myles Andrews (800m), Randall Cunningham (high jump), Andre De Grasse (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Robert Ford (800m), Adoree' Jackson (long jump), Michael Krone (high jump), BeeJay Lee (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Conor McCullough (hammer throw), Bryan Mercado (100m, 4x100m), D.J. Morgan (110m HH), Ricky Morgan (400m), Marquis Morris (110m HH), Nick Ponzio (shot put), Dominic Smallwood (triple jump), Davonte Stewart (400m) and Just'N Thymes (200m, 4x100m). The women qualified are Destinee Brown (100m, 200m), Gabriella Cantrell (100m, 200m), Alexandra Collatz (discus throw), Melia Cox (100m HH, triple jump), Kendall Ellis (400m, 4x400m), Alexis Faulknor (100m, LJ, 4x100m), Tynia Gaither (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Dior Hall (100m HH), Deanna Hill (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Amalie Iuel (400m IH, 4x400m), Vanessa Jones (400m, 4x400m), Akawkaw Ncha-Ndip (400m, 4x400m), Tera Novy (discus throw), Jenny Ozorai (hammer throw), Cameron Pettigrew (400m), Madisen Richards (long jump), Tanya Sapa (shot put), Kira Soderstrom (3000m SC), Jaide Stepter (400m IH, 4x400m) and Ky Westbrook (100m, 200m, 4x100m).

    USC RANKING AMONG THE BEST - There are currently 31 NCAA top 30 marks posted by Trojan athletes this outdoor season: Men (10): Randall Cunningham (HJ - T-4th), Andre De Grasse (100m - 1st, 200m - 2nd), Adoree' Jackson (LJ - T-24th), BeeJay Lee (100m - 5th, 200m - T-7th), Conor McCullough (HT - 1st), Nick Ponzio (Shot - 21st), Just'N Thymes (200m - T-14th) and the 4x100m relay (5th). Women (21): Alexandra Collatz (Discus - 7th), Melia Cox (100m HH - T-26th), Alexis Faulknor (100m - T-9th, 200m - 22nd, LJ - 10th), Tynia Gaither (100m - 15th, 200m - T-17th), Dior Hall (100m HH - T-5th), Deanna Hill (200m - 11th), Amalie Iuel (400m IH - 4th, Heptathlon - 21st), Vanessa Jones (400m - T-7th), Tera Novy (Discus - 3rd), Jenny Ozorai (Hammer - 30th), Jaide Stepter (400m IH - 3rd), Ky Westbrook (100m - 8th, 200m - 25th), the 4x100m relay (5th, T-12th) and the 4x400m relay (10th, 16th).

    McCULLOUGH ADDED TO THE BOWERMAN WATCH LIST - USC redshirt senior Conor McCullough was added to the Bowerman Men's Watch List on May 6 for the prestigious award as the top college track and field athlete in the country. He won the hammer throw at the USC-UCLA Dual Meet on May 2 with a college-best throw of 248-11 (75.88m) to move into second on USC's all-time list and seventh on the NCAA's all-time list. That mark is the top American throw this season and 14th in the world. The last college athlete to throw farther was Andras Haklits' of Georgia who had a mark of 257-11 on May 4, 2002. McCullough won the Pac-12 hammer throw title on May 16 with a mark of 236-10 (72.20m). McCullough returned to action in the indoor season, but now will take aim at an NCAA title in the men's hammer throw. In his first collegiate outdoor meet since 2012, he threw 233-7 (71.21m) to win and had four throws over 231. His second meet was the Mt. SAC Relays and he won the Invitational with a best throw of 241-9 (73.70m), the third-farthest throw in USC history. He had a very strong series, improving as he went and systematically moving up the USC all-time list. With his second throw of 237-6 (72.39m), McCullough moved from fifth to fourth on the USC list, then with his fifth throw of 239-11 (73.13m) he moved into third on the list and bettered it with his final throw of 241-9. McCullough began his career at Princeton in 2010 and won the NCAA East Region hammer throw competition in 2012, but did not compete at the NCAA's that season. McCullough enrolled at USC last year and was not able to compete, but was granted a sixth year of eligibility for this season. McCullough competed indoors this season and placed second at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the weight throw with a school-record toss of 80-3.75 (24.48m), but had not competed collegiately outdoors since winning the NCAA East Region hammer throw title on April 24, 2012. He has won his last 12 collegiate hammer throw competitions and 13 of 15 overall since he began at Princeton in 2010. McCullough has a personal-best of 253-3 (77.20m) which he threw at the at the Edmonton International Track Classic in Edmonton, Canada on July 6, 2014.

    DE GRASSE SETS USC 100M RECORD - Junior sprinter Andre De Grasse from Markham, Ontario, Canada set the USC, Pac-12 Championships and UCLA Drake Stadium 100m dash record when he clocked 9.97 (+0.6) to win the Pac-12 title on May 17. The previous USC record and Drake Stadium record was 10.02 set by James Sanford in 1980 and the Pac-12 Meet record was 10.03 by UCLA's Ato Boldon in 1996. De Grasse also captured the conference 200m title with a time of 20.05 (-0.1) after setting a PR and Candian record of 20.03 (-0.1) in the prelims on May 16, which ties him for second on USC's all-time list. De Grasse also broke the USC Loker Stadium 100m dash record by running 10.04 (+0.4) to win at the Dual Meet on May 3. That time tied the Dual Meet record set by Boldon in 1996, the same year he earned a bronze medal in the event at the Olympics. The previous Loker Stadium record of 10.07 was co-held by Aaron Brown and current teammate BeeJay Lee. The junior also took second in the 200m dash with a time of 20.74 (+1.8) and ran the second leg for the winning 4x100m relay which ran 39.42. To help USC grab the team title, De Grasse ran the third leg for USC's 4x400m relay team which won with a time of 3:09.89 to earn the meet's final five points to secure an 82-81 Trojan victory. He has had many big days this season, including at Mt. SAC on April 18, winning the Invitational 100m, 200m and being part of the winning 4x100m relay. In the 100m he defeated a field of professionals with a wind-aided PR of 9.87 (+4.0w), still tied for this season's world-leading any conditions time. He won the 200m with a then PR of 20.16 (+0.3) which tied Aaron Brown's Canadian record and third-place standing on USC's all-time list. De Grasse, BeeJay Lee, Just'N Thymes and Bryan Mercado won the 4x100m relay with a time of 38.98 and became the first college team to win the Mt. SAC Invitational 4x100m since 2002 and only the second in the last 29 years. During the indoor season, he posted a best of 6.60 in the 60m and placed second in the 200m at the NCAA Championships with a USC and Canadian indoor record of 20.26, both marks formerly held by Brown.

    STEPTER & IUEL POSE QUITE A HURDLE FOR THE OPPOSITION - Junior Jaide Stepter and sophomore Amalie Iuel currently rank third and fourth respectively among college 400m hurdlers and ninth and 10th in the world with times of 55.83 and 55.92 run at the Florida Relays on April 3. Those times also place Stepter third and Iuel fourth on USC's all-time list and they are less than one second off the school record of 54.95 run by Natasha Danvers in 2000.

    USC LOOKS TO BRING BACK THE HAMMER - The USC throws program under the direction of Dan Lange has been very strong, but none stronger than the success of the hammer throwers and this season is no different. Due to the preseason surgery of Jenny Ozorai and the emergency appendectomy to Remy Conatser just days before the NCAA Regionals in 2014, USC did not have a male or female athlete score in the hammer throw at the NCAA Championships for the first time since 1992, ending a streak of 21 consecutive seasons with an NCAA scorer in the event. During those 21 seasons, USC claimed six hammer throw titles and had 16 finishes in the top three. USC has had 13 women's hammer throwers score at the NCAAs in the past 16 seasons and has had 17 men's athletes score in the last 22 seasons. Ozorai has been an All-American in each of her three seasons and ranks second all-time by a Trojan with a best mark of 223-4 and Conor McCullough has thrown 248-11 (75.88m) to move into second on USC's all-time list. In addition, women's throwers Alexandra Collatz and Tanya Sapa have both thrown over 180 feet in the event, and redshirt sophomore Erika Peyton threw 179-3 at the California Collegiate on April 4.

    HALL HURDLES TO ANOTHER RECORD - Freshman Dior Hall came to USC as the all-time U.S. high school record-holder in the 100m HH and demonstrated in the indoor season that she is going to be a force immediately. Hall won the MPSF 60m HH title with a time of 8.11. She set the USC freshman hurdles record at the Husker invitational with a time of 8.14, then broke it three more times, the last being an 8.01 clocking in the semifinals at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Unfortunately for Hall, she clipped the third hurdle while leading in the finals and placed eighth with a time of 8.48. Hall's high school record in the 100m HH is 12.92 set in placing second at the 2014 IAAF World Youth Championships , which broke the previous record of 12.95 set by Candy Young in 1979. Hall was a three-time state 100m HH champions and a two-time Colorado Gatorade Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year honoree. Hall opened up her 2015 outdoor season by running a then PR of 23.90 in the 200m at the Trojan Invite on March 21. Hall ran her first collegiate 100m HH race at the Florida Relays on April 3 and placed third with a wind-aided time of 13.00 (+2.1w). In her second 100m HH race, Hall ran 13.17 (+0.1) to win at the Jim Click Shootout on April 11 and move into 8th on USC's all-time list. She also set a 200m PR that day of 23.79 (-1.7). Hall then took down the USC freshman record of 13.06 set by Lauren Blackburn in 2011 by winning at the Mt. SAC Invitational 100m HH race with a time of 12.89 (+1.8) on April 18. That time ranks tied for fifth in the country and third all-time at USC, behind only NCAA champions Ginnie Crawford (12.48) and Nia Ali (12.73). Hall won the Pac-12 100m HH title with a time of 12.99 (-0.4) with a lean at the finish on May 17. She became just the second Pac-12 100m HH freshman winner, joining Joanna Hayes (UCLA, 1996).

    TOP 10 TROJANS - USC has eight spring semester teams ranked in the top 10 in the country: Sand Volleyball (1, NCAA Champions), W-Golf (1), W-Tennis (1, T-3rd at NCAAs), W-Track (2), W-Water Polo (4, 3rd at NCAA Championships), M-Track (6), M-Tennis (7, Round of 16 at NCAAs), M-Volleyball (7).

    UP NEXT - USC's track and field team will train in preparation for the NCAA Track & Field Championships to be held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. from June 10-13.