Men’s track earns second at Pac-10’s

The USC track and field team had a solid showing at the conference championships, winning six titles on the last day of competition.

The men entered Sunday’s events in fourth place and had 40 points, while the women sat in seventh and had 17 points.

“I thought our men did just about everything they could possibly do in terms of maximizing our potential,” said Ron Allice, director of the USC track and field team.

The men finished with 156 points, 64 points ahead of the third-place Stanford Cardinal. That was the most points any team had ever earned at the conference championships without winning first place, according to Allice.

Many Trojans won individual titles throughout the weekend. Senior Ahmad Rashad earned himself two after finishing first in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes. This was the third time he won the two races, after winning both during his freshman and junior seasons.

“The reason he didn’t do it his sophomore year was he was injured,” Allice said of Rashad. “Outside of that, he has dominated his conference throughout his entire career.”

Rashad became the first Pac-10 male athlete to win both of these races three times. In fact, nobody had won either race three times, let alone both.

Senior Manjula Wijesekara, senior Aven Wright and sophomore Joey Hughes also won individual titles in the high jump, triple jump and 400-meter dash, respectively. With a time of 45.16, Hughes now holds the seventh-best time in USC history. This win capped off what was a very busy weekend for him.

“To run two [4×100] relays, a [4×400] relay, two 200-[meter dashes] and two 400-[meter dashes] in two days is a Herculean effort,” said Allice.

Some of the highlights for the women included when freshman Lauren Chambers took second place in the hammer competition and redshirt sophomore Lauren Guerrieri finished second in the women’s discus.

One unfortunate moment for the women occurred during the 4×400 relay. The team consisted of seniors Elizabeth Olear, Myra Hasson and Shalina Clark, as well as sophomore Dalilah Muhammad.

The team finished third in the relay but was later disqualified because Hasson was not present for her race on Saturday. While this was because of a clerical error, the disqualification nonetheless cost the women six points. They finished the weekend only half a point behind the third place Arizona Sun Devils.

While the infraction kept her from medaling in the relay final, Muhammad did earn second place in the women’s 400-meter intermediate hurdles for the second straight year, earning eight points for her team.

Now that the conference championships are over, the Trojans can look ahead to NCAA regionals at the end of the month, followed by the NCAA championships in June. But Allice stresses that success last weekend does not guarantee victories in upcoming tournaments.

“You can be the best in America and not get through it,” Allice said. “You gotta line up and be ready on that day, and if you’re not ready on that day, you won’t be moving on.”