USC set to compete in separate meets

Looking to build on a strong showing at the Trojan Invitational last week, the No. 8 USC men’s and No. 23 women’s track and field teams will compete in two meets: the Stanford Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., and the Cal-Nevada championships in La Jolla, Calif.

USC distance athletes will compete in the Stanford Invitational, and another set of runners and throwers will show their mettle in the Cal-Nevada championships. Both meets will commence today and continue through Saturday.

The Trojans enter these meets coming off a 10-event win, as well as wins in the men’s and women’s hammer throw, at Cromwell Field last weekend. As the season reaches its midpoint, the men’s and women’s teams are taking advantage of every opportunity to set high marks and produce strong performances going into the rest of the season.

“This is the time where we are trying to race and compete; run, jump and throw,” USC Director of Track and Field Ron Allice said. “This is the time to get good marks and standards, and progress towards the best we can be in April, May and June.”

Five of USC’s middistance athletes will join more than 3,300 athletes and 100 collegiate teams at Cobb Track & Angell Field for the 29th annual Stanford Invitational.

On the men’s side, sophomore Myles Andrews will race the 800m and senior Eric Battles will compete in the 1500m. Freshman Katerina Berdousi will run the 3000m and senior Shelby Buckley and sophomore Erica Capellino will represent the women’s team in the 800m and 1500m.

While the distance athletes are competing in the north, the men’s and women’s sprinters and throwers will be taking on 29 schools at Triton Track and Field Stadium. The Trojans will compete against 27 other California schools as well as UNLV and Nevada. The event will begin on Friday at noon with the men’s hammer, and continue through mid-afternoon on Saturday.

In addition to the two weekend meets, the team jump-started the week with several athletes competing in the decathlon at the 17th annual Cal Multi-Events Meet in Berkeley, Calif. The event included solid performances by junior Viktor Fajoyomi and sophomore Jemal Williams on the men’s team, and sophomore Kiana Henry on the women’s team. Several of the competitors did not have previous decathlon experience, including Fajoyomi.

“Fajoyomi is our high jump, triple jumper,” Allice said. “[We’re] converting him to see if he can do a decathlon. This is kind of an experiment.”

After completing their races this weekend, the teams have their sights set on a plethora of critical, and greatly anticipated, relays and meets.

“After this weekend, we will come back and get ready for the big push,” Allice said.

The team will strive to continue its momentum with the Florida Relays next week, as well as a two-day invitational at CSU Long Beach. Both competitions will help the team prepare for the Mt. San Antonio College Relays and the annual highly coveted USC-UCLA dual meet, where the USC and UCLA teams go head-to-head.

“The UCLA dual meet is one of the most watched and interesting meets of the year,” Allice said.

The team has a long road of racing, jumping and throwing ahead, but Allice is confident that each meet will prove valuable in helping his athletes get in optimal condition going into the bigger competitions and NCAA championships.

“At this time, we are trying to improve on fitness levels and performance levels,” Allice said.