The Trojan track and field team began the indoor season with an impressive effort at the MLK Jr. Invitational meet in Albuquerque, N.M.. The outing resulted in 17 top-3 finishes, including seven wins as the Trojan athletes faced off against competitors from the likes of UCLA, Fresno State and Grand Canyon University over the two-day meet marking the beginning of a season filled with high expectations.
The big winners of the meet showed no signs of rust as they came off to a scorching start to the season. Freshman Zach Schinnick and sophomore Kyra Constantine won the men’s and women’s 400 meter dashes with times of 46.49 and 53.2, respectively. With her time, Constantine also set a personal record.
Redshirt junior Ky Westbrook put up a blazing 7.29 second time in the women’s 60m dash to win the final for the event, while teammate sophomore Zaria Francis came in second with a time of 7.34.
Senior Kendall Ellis ran a 23.29 to win the women’s 200m, followed by fellow teammates sophomore Anna Cockrell, Westbrook, freshman Twanisha Terry and Constantine, who placed from second to fifth, leading to a USC sweep of the top 5 spots in the event. USC also dominated the 400m relays, with wins for both the men’s and women’s teams.
To round out the winners pantheon, senior Dominic Smallwood dominated in the triple jump, winning on a 55-10.25 jump after only taking three jumps, which would end up being the three best jumps of the day.
The Trojan athletes impressed across the board, notching noteworthy finishes in the field events. In men’s long jump, redshirt senior Eric Sloan captured second place with a jump of 25-7.25, the top distance for any collegian at the meet. Junior Margaux Jones also placed second in the women’s long jump, jumping an impressive 20-8.
In men’s high jump, senior Randall Cunningham found himself in a tie for third place with a jump of 6-9.5.
The USC shot putters also put up strong performances, with top-3 finishes in both the women’s and men’s event. Redshirt senior Breana Jemison achieved a distance of 56-8, earning her second place, while junior Matthew Katnik reached 62-9.25 to secure a third place spot. Both distances were worthy of qualifying for Nationals—an impressive feat for the first meet of the season.
The team found similar levels of success on the track. In the women’s 60m hurdles, the four collegiate finalists were all Trojans. Redshirt junior Dior Hall placed second on a time of 7.98, followed by Cockrell at 8.02 in third. Freshman Chanel Brissett and sophomore Mecca McGlaston rounded out the USC contingent in the event, coming in fifth and eighth, respectively, with times of 8.15 and 8.35. Sophomore T.J. Brock ran a time of 6.65 in the 60m dash to win second place, setting a new personal record. Senior Robert Ford placed second in the 600m dash with a time of 1:18.51.
The team looks to carry over the success from the first meet of the season going forward as they prepare for a meet in Arkansas this coming weekend. Though the competition will be stiff coming from SEC schools such as Arkansas and Georgia, the team remains unfazed and confident in their abilities.
“We have so much talent on this team; we are really looking stronger than ever,” junior heptathlete Lyndsey Lopes said.
If their efforts from the opening meet are indicative of anything, the team looks well-poised to be successful down the stretch of this season.