The website for the Mt. San Antonio College Relays, more commonly known as the Mt. Sac Relays, proclaims the meet to be “where the world’s best athletes compete!”
The USC track and field team will need to be at its best from April 15 to 17 in Walnut, Calif., if it wants to justify its current No. 7 ranking and have a strong showing against those athletes.
“This meet will give us a much better idea of where we stand, especially within the conference,” USC coach Ron Allice said. “The competition was very stiff just to qualify [for the Mt. Sac Relays]. Not everyone that we wanted to get in got in.”
For the athletes who qualified, the meet will give them the opportunity to both improve their qualifying times for the championship season and improve against some of the stiffest competition the Trojans have faced all year.
“Generally speaking, we’re going to put people in their best event,” Allice said. “We’re trying to give people the best chances to post their best time for later this year.”
The Mt. Sac website isn’t being hyperbolic when it uses the phrase “world’s best athletes.” With U.S. collegiate powerhouses like Stanford, Baylor and Washington, USC will run, throw and hurdle against athletes from Bermuda, Great Britain, Canada, Finland and a myriad of other nations eager to show what they can do on the American stage.
“You wouldn’t be at USC if you didn’t think you could compete at that level with athletes from around the globe,” Allice said. “That’s what we try to do. We try to put our athletes in a position where they can compete against the best, no matter where they’re from.”
USC currently has 57 men and women scheduled to compete at Mt. Sac, including some of its most impressive athletes.
Senior Ahmad Rashad, generally considered to be USC’s best short-distance runner, will run both the 100-meter and 200-meter dash after a couple weeks without competition.
Junior hurdlers Oscar Spurlock and Brendan Ames, who both have best times of 13.81 in the men’s 110-meter high hurdles, ranked ninth in the nation, will both compete in the event this weekend.
Sophomore Dalilah Muhammad, who last weekend won the women’s high jump at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational, will return to the 400-meter hurdles for the USC women, the event in which she set the nation’s fastest time this year at the Trojan Invitational back in March.
Junior Zsofia Erdelyi, originally from Godollo, Hungary, will compete in the women’s 5,000-meter run at a meet in which her home country is represented in the women’s hammer throw.
Once all the results are in, Allice said the next objective is to use the times to determine strategy for the USC-UCLA dual meet on May 1.
“Our performances will determine how we line [the dual meet] up,” Allice said. “It’s key that we do well this weekend for the sake of the rest of the year.”