USC track and field set to compete around the nation

The USC track and field team will divide and conquer this weekend as it sends athletes across the country to three different events.

The rough breakdown will have the sprinters and majority of mid-distance runners flying to Gainesville, Florida, to participate in the Florida Relays.

The other distance runners will be traveling up north to test their speed in Palo Alto at the Stanford Invitational, and the throwers will take the short trip to San Diego to compete in the California Collegiate Invitational. All three meets are considered some of the best of the season for their respective events.

The No. 7-ranked men’s team will be keeping its eyes on the Florida Relays, with great hype surrounding senior sprinter BeeJay Lee, one of three Trojans to win Pac-12 Track and Field Athlete of the Week. Lee will be competing in the 100-meter, 200-meter, 4×100 relay and the 4×200 relay. Lee currently holds the fastest time in the 200-meter in the country with a blazing 20.96, but he expects great competition over the weekend.

“A lot of pros and a lot of good colleges are going to be there,” Lee said following his workout on Monday. “Everybody is coming off the indoor season, so everyone is going to be hungry.”

The 4×200 relay team will add junior sprinter Andre De Grasse, one of the sprinters to watch heading into the outdoor season. De Grasse is a transfer from Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kansas,  and a five-time NJCAA champion.  De Grasse’s addition to the relay should allow the team to run a faster race, as well as improve its overall performance in the Sunshine State.

“It’s just going to be some friendly competition,” Lee joked. “So we can go to Florida and show them what Cali is all about.”

Meanwhile, the 800-meter runners will be competing in Palo Alto in what is recognized as one of the toughest meets of the year. Junior Reika Kijima and teammate senior Erica Capellino will represent the No. 8-ranked Women of Troy.

“I want someone to push me,” said Kijima. “This is the top competition.”

Accompanying the ladies will be freshman Robert Ford and senior Myles Andrews. Ford currently holds the sixth-best time in the NCAA for the 80-meter, and Andrews sits just behind him with the ninth-best time in the country.

The final stop for the Trojans will be for the throwers in San Diego, at one of the most elite competitions of the season.

Junior Tera Novy cites the upcoming meet as “the best ring in the country” for discus throwers. Novy competes in both the discus and the shot put. She was another of the Pac-12 Track and Field Athletes of the Week as she set a personal record in the discus with a throw long enough to crack the top-10 on USC’s all-time list. Novy currently owns the third-best discus distance in the country.

“It’s great to be high in the national rankings,” said Novy. “But it’s about who shows up that day and throws.”

This meet will serve as a great gauge for the Trojans as they see how they stack up against the nation’s best and continue working toward their goal of winning a national championship.

“We are making small improvements and working hard,” Lee said. “Our team has a pretty good chance to place high in NCAAs.”