Trojans ready for Trailblazer Challenge

The Trojan track and field team prepares for the Power 5 Trailblazer challenge this weekend following the conclusion of  their indoor season at the NCAA Indoor Championships at College Station, Tex., on March 10. The team impressed, securing a number of wins and even a world record against the nation’s best athletes. The men’s team finished second among all schools, with the women placing seventh.

Senior long distance runner Madison Ricks (right) is in her fourth and final season sporting cardinal and gold. Katie Chin | Daily Trojan

With the indoor season coming to a close, the outdoor portion of the year got rolling the following week at the Trojan Invitational hosted by USC, where the Trojan athletes once again put on a show at their second outdoor meet of the season.

Both the men and women teams put on remarkable performances at the NCAA Indoor Championships, winning five events. Senior Kendall Ellis won the women’s 400m dash in spectacular fashion, with a collegiate and USC record time of 50.34. She topped the previous record by 12 milliseconds, set in 2014 by Phyllis Francis. The women’s 4x400m relay team also won first place, as freshman Kaeilin Roberts, sophomore Anna Cockrell, senior Deanna Hill and Ellis blazed a time of 3:27.45, the fourth fastest college time ever.

The headline-grabbing performances of the weekend came from the men’s 4×400 relay team as they broke the world record in both events. Sophomore Michael Norman ran a ridiculous time of 44.52, breaking the previous record of 44.57 set by Kerron Clement back in 2005. He was a part of the Trojans’ other world record as well, as the men’s 4×400 team of Norman, freshman Zach Shinnick, junior Rai Benjamin and senior Ricky Morgan Jr. won the event with a time of 3:00.77. This is the only indoor 4x400m time below 3:01 ever recorded — an incredible feat. They had set the record themselves earlier in the year with a 3:01.98, only to have it broken by a 3:01.77 run by Poland earlier this month. Their remarkable performance at the NCAA championship gives them their record back, likely for much longer this time.

The beginning of the outdoor season continued the next week at the Trojan invitational, where USC dominated the field. The Trojans won a total of 12 events across the board, from throws to the relays.

Freshman Joy McArthur won the women’s hammer throw with a best distance of 197-1 in her first college meet. Redshirt senior Nick Ponzio took first in the men’s shot put, with a best throw of 61-6.75. Redshirt senior Breanna Jemison won the women’s shot put on a best mark of 53-1.5. Senior Madisen Richards won the women’s long jump on her best jump of 19-11.75. USC also took a victory in the women’s high jump, as freshman Cassidy Palka took first on a best clearance of 5-7.00. Freshman Earnest Sears won the men’s high jump, clearing 7-2.50 for first place.

The track portion of the meet went equally well for the Trojans, where they racked up six more wins, including the women’s 4×100 relay team of redshirt sophomore Angie Annelus, redshirt junior Ky Westbrook, Hill and freshman TeeTee Terry, who burnt up the track with a time of 43.49, securing a victory. Freshman Chanel Brissett won the women’s 100m hurdles, running a wind-aided 13.10.

Coming off their hot streak, the Trojans will head into the body of the outdoor track and field season in the coming weeks. They will compete in the Power 5 Trailblazer Challenge this upcoming weekend, where they will look to continue their success.