Men, women to compete on both coasts

The Trojans are striving to continue their early season momentum on both the East and West Coasts this weekend. The No. 8 men’s and No. 25 women’s track and field teams are gearing up to compete in two events: the 69th annual Florida Relays and the Cal State L.A. Invitational.

“Primarily, we have built toward a crescendo in what we do in terms of preparing for major competition in the NCAA levels,” USC Director of Track and Field Ron Allice said of the Florida Relays. “This is our first exposure to not only some of the best collegians in the country, but also post-collegians who we will be competing with.”

The talent will be fierce at the storied Florida Relays, which will be held Thursday through Saturday at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The relays are one of the nation’s premier track and field meets, drawing athletes from high school, collegiate and international ranks.

The Trojans face highly ranked teams on both the men’s and women’s sides. On the men’s side, the Trojans will contend with the No. 3 Gators and the No. 6 Florida State Seminoles. Beyond the top-10 ranked teams, the Trojans will be joined by four other NCAA Division I programs: No. 11 Ole Miss, No. 17 Indiana, No. 23 Baylor and No. 25 Oklahoma State.

The Women of Troy will also face sizeable competition, including No. 6 Texas. Other notable women’s teams competing in the relays are No. 12 University of Central Florida, No. 14 Baylor and No. 19 Georgia.

Allice said the relays will provide a good challnege and measure of the season thus far in addition to helping prepare the team for critical meets that start at the end of this month.

“It is difficult to say whether we are ready yet,” Allice said. “It will give us a benchmark to let us know what we need to do in order to prepare ourselves for what occurs after this. There is a big push to be at our best at the end of this month into May and June.”

Freshman Tera Novy, who throws hammer for the women’s team, expressed excitement and high expectations for the Relays.

“My goal is to compete well and perform the best that I can,” Novy said. “I am very excited for the competition that will be competing at this meet.”

On the West Coast, the Trojans will compete at the Cal State L.A. Invitational, which will be held Friday through Saturday at the Jesse Owens Track in Los Angeles. The events will kickoff with the hammer at 9 a.m. today.

The Trojans and Women of Troy enter both meets coming off of three competitions last week, including a five-out-of-eight-event win at the Cal-Nevada Championships in La Jolla, Calif.

Novy, who finished third in the hammer with a strong throw of 163-7 (49.87 m), reported a positive experience                                                                              at the Cal-Nevada Championships and noted that the meet provided her with a good opportunity to get another competition under her belt.

“My experience at the Cal-Nevada Championships was fun and full of learning,” Novy said. “I believe my team competed very well.”

In addition to the success at the Cal-Nevada Championships, the Trojans posted high marks at the Cal Multi-Events Championship last Friday. Notably, junior Viktor Fajoyomi scored 7,078 points to win his first career decathlon competition. Fajoyomi’s score places him a mere 20 points outside the Trojans’ all-time top-10 in the event.

“My primary goal was to get an NCAA qualifying mark at the meet,” Fajoyomi said. “But mainly I entered this meet to get a point, which helps me figure out what I need to improve on before my next decathlon competition at the Pac-12s. I was happy that I could win my first decathlon competition; however, the score was not what I was expecting.”

Fajoyomi hopes to qualify for the NCAA championships in the decathlon as well as assist his team in the high jump and long jump.

Following the Florida Relays and Cal State L.A. Invitational, the team will head to the Mount San Antonio College Relays on April 18-19 in Walnut, Calif.