The USC track and field team will have plenty of ways to keep busy over spring break. With the Northridge Invitational beginning Friday and the Trojan Invitational the next week, the team will truly begin its outdoor season.
“We’ve just been playing around with different combinations up until now,” USC coach Ron Allice said. “This week is when we absolutely go forward and say, ‘Let’s see how good we can be.’”
In addition to the two meets, USC will send some of its best performers to the NCAA indoor track & field championship in Fayetteville, Ark. Among the competitors will be senior Brendan Estrada, who won the men’s pole vault at the Washington Last Chance indoor meet at the University of Washington in Seattle by clearing a personal best 18.5 feet.
Also expected to compete will be sophomore Blake Shaw, who became the first Trojan to ever break the four-minute mark in the mile when he ran 3:59.85 at the Washington meet.
“What Blake did truly is a tremendous accomplishment,” Allice said. “To be the first in our program to run under four minutes is quite the feat.”
For the rest of the team, the Northridge Invitational on March 12 marks what Allice calls “the real start to the season.” And with the annual USC-UCLA dual meet to take place in Westwood on May 1, the Trojan Invitational on March 19 will be USC’s only true home meet of the season.
The meets will be the first real showcase for the top tier of USC’s talented group of athletes. Redshirt sophomore Bryshon Nellum, who missed all of last season because of an injury, will make his 2010 debut for the Trojans as a member of the 4×400-meter relay team. Also expected to run is star sprinter senior Ahmad Rashad, who has been held back in the early portion of the season.
“It’s going to be exciting to see where we’re at,” Allice said. “These meets should be very telling.”