Track and field prepares for busy weekend of meets

This week, the No. 14 men’s and No. 3 women’s track and field team will attend three different events at two different locations over three different days.

The busy schedule begins Thursday with the 58th annual Mount San Antonio College Relays, in Norwalk, California, and the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate, hosted by Long Beach State University, in Long Beach, California. Though the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate ends Thursday, competition at Long Beach State will resume Friday and Saturday for the 22nd annual Beach Invitational; the Mt. SAC Relays will also continue until Saturday afternoon.

Ahead of the eventful week, which is in the midst of a full outdoor season, redshirt senior sprinter Tynia Gaither gave her thoughts on her and her teammates’ current mindset.

“I definitely feel ready,” Gaither said. “We’re a really strong mental team; we can take on anything. So, we look forward to our competition, and we look forward to going out there and doing our best every time, no matter what.”

Gaither is poised to compete at the Mt. SAC Relays this weekend. She will participate in the women’s 100-meter dash collegiate open on Friday, alongside sophomore Deanna Hill, junior Destinee Brown, and sophomore Gabriella Cantrell; senior Alexis Faulknor will compete in the women’s 100-meter dash invitational collegiate open the next day. Faulknor will also run in the women’s 200-meter dash invitational on Saturday, with Gaither and Hill. Finally, Gaither will anchor the women’s 4×100 meter relay invitational, which is also composed of Faulknor, Hill and Brown, on Saturday.

USC will be heavily represented at the Mt. SAC Relays this year. Trojan athletes will participate in the majority of scheduled events: the men and women’s 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter dashes, the men and women’s 800-meter, 1500-meter and 5000-meter runs, the men and women’s 4×100 meter and 4×400 meter relays, as well as both teams’ long jump events, discus throws, hammer throws and shot put events.

The Trojans’ highly respected throwers coach, Dan Lange, commented on how his freshmen athletes have performed so far this season.

“Exceptionally well,” Lange said. “The two freshmen boys, Nathan Bultman and Matt Katnik, they’re going great; they’re surpassing expectations at this point.”

Lange added that the entire group has impressed on and off the field.

“I just feel like this group of throwers, from a character standpoint, is amongst the best I’ve ever had in 27 years,” Lange said. “They’re great athletes, but they’re really, really, high quality people.”

Though most of his athletes, including recent USC Credit Union student-athlete of the week, senior Tera Novy, will compete at the Mt. SAC Relays, some of his throwers will feature in at least one event at the Beach Invitational in Long Beach. Freshman Nathan Bultman and redshirt sophomore David Sellens III will participate in the men’s hammer throws, while junior Tanya Sapa and redshirt junior Erika Peyton will look to perform well in the women’s hammer throws.

In Long Beach, the men and women of Troy will participate in more than throwing events. Senior Felicia Horvath will pole vault on Thursday during the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate and again later during the Beach Invitational. Redshirt freshman Madison Ricks, senior Katerina Berdousi, senior Jenna Tong and freshman Sophia Racette will compete in the women’s 1500-meter run, while sophomore Mitchell Cameron and freshman Trent Rule will do the same in the men’s event. More Trojans will also feature in dashes and runs throughout the Long Beach events.

Sophomore jumper Dominic Smallwood, set to perform in the men’s triple jump and long jump at Mt. SAC, spoke to how he sees the team performing from now on.

“We’re right where we need to be,” Smallwood said. “Of course, we’re gonna start opening up, hitting bigger marks and hitting faster times.”

Next weekend, USC’s track and field team are going to La Jolla, California, to take part in the Triton Invitational. That will precede the much anticipated USC-UCLA Dual Meet, which will occur the following week in Westwood.