Trojans come up short at the NCAAs

Despite high hopes and expectations, the USC track and field team failed to meet its set goals at the NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, as the women’s team placed sixth and the men’s team placed 12th in the competition.

Winner · Senior Nia Ali won the 2011 NCAA 100-meter hurdles with a personal record of 12.63 seconds. Ali’s performance gave the Women of Troy 10 points in the team competition, which put USC in sixth place at the track and field championships. - Photo courtesy of Sports Information

The USC women’s team finished with 30 points, after not registering any points at NCAAs last year, and walked away from the week’s events with a sense of accomplishment. Not only did it place in the top 10, but it redeemed itself.

After all, the results of last year’s NCAA competition for the Women of Troy were arguably anomalies. This was the same team that, during coach Ron Allice’s 17-season term at USC so far, had never gone scoreless at the NCAA competition.

This year’s young team, made up mostly of freshmen, came back this year and proved its worth.

“As a whole, we came off so strong,” senior Nia Ali said. “We did it basically with a team of freshman alone. I am just excited for the upcoming years. It was a big step up for freshmen and as a team as a whole.”

For the men’s team, there was a bit less to celebrate. After consistently placing in the top 10 at the NCAA competition for the last six years, the Trojans’ streak was snapped as the team only managed to earn 18 points. Despite the 12th-place finish, the team has managed to score in the top 10 in 13 of Allice’s 17 seasons heading the program.

The team’s 12th place finish was, to Allice, partially because of a lack of focus. Because most of the athletes will be returning for next season, there will be a chance for the team to redeem itself.

The individual performances at the NCAA championship by USC athletes were noteworthy. Personal records were achieved and individual titles won. Eleven different USC athletes earned first team All-America honors during the four days of events.

Hurdler and heptathlete Ali was one athlete in particular who was recognized, winning the 100-meter hurdles title at the competition with a wind-aided personal record of 12.63.

“I don’t even know what I was feeling after [the race],” Ali said. “You never know what to expect in such an unpredictable race.”

Ali also earned sixth place in the high jump.

Senior Brendan Ames performed well in the 100-meter hurdles, earning third place in the final heat. Ames finished just 0.01 seconds behind the second-place finisher with a wind-aided personal record of 13.34.

Top performances on the men’s team included senior Trey Henderson, who earned fourth place in the hammer throw, and junior Cooper Thompson, who placed ninth in javelin.

Junior Aareon Payne and freshman Jessica Davis also placed in the 200-meter, finishing in fifth and eighth place, respectively.

“I felt everyone equally contributed,” Ali said. “We had [personal records] everywhere. It wasn’t just one specific area, but obviously the sprinters and throwers played a big role.”