2019 schedule looks hopeful for Trojan track and field

Redshirt senior Matthew Katnik will enter his fourth season as a thrower. His father was a center for USC football (1986-87). (Photo courtesy of USC Athletics)

USC track and field released the 2019 schedule on Tuesday for both the indoor and outdoor teams featuring both a number of repeat appearances from previous years as well as a few new competitions for the Trojans to put their talent on display.

The indoor season kicks off for the Men and Women of Troy in Albuquerque, N.M. at the Dr. Martin Luther King Invitational, an event in which USC took home 17 top-three finishes, including seven victories combined between the men and women’s squads.

In the following weeks, the Trojans will make a few visits to colleges as they will compete in the Texas Tech Invitational and return to the Tyson Invitational hosted by the University of Arkansas. In Fayetteville, Ark. last year, USC took first in four different events, including an impressive performance by senior Randall Cunningham, who won the men’s high jump after he cleared 2.25 meters in his first jump.

The University of Washington will again serve as the site for the MPSF Indoor Championships in late February. In last season’s final event before NCAAs, USC managed to take team titles for both the men’s and women’s teams, comfortably beating out UCLA, Stanford, Oregon and 15 other squads from various schools.

At this year’s NCAA Indoor Championships, hosted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Trojans will look to build off their massive success in 2018 when USC broke three American and two world records at the tournament. At the center of these records was Michael Norman, who managed to break the world record in both the men’s 400m as well as the 4x400m relay. As the lone returning member of that historic relay team, sophomore Zach Shinnick will have high expectations for himself once again when the Trojans take center stage in early March.

While the indoor track and field schedule is packed with early season storylines, the outdoor slate promises to be just as exciting. To kick off the season, USC will host the Trojan Invitational, an event which resulted in 11 wins for its athletes a year ago including two for current sophomore Chanel Brissett, who was victorious in both the 100m hurdles and the 100m dash.

The following week, the Trojans will travel to Miami, Fla. to again compete in the Power 5 Trailblazer Challenge. After hosting last season, as well as taking home six wins each on the men’s and women’s sides, USC will look to compete against elite schools such as Ohio State and Ole Miss.

The Power 5 event will also mark the final time that the Trojans travel east of Tucson, Ariz. before the NCAA championship, as the remainder of their schedule keeps the team very close to home. Most notably, the Men and Women of Troy will compete at the Mt. SAC Relays in Torrance, Calif., where the team set two school records in 2018. It will also play host to the USC-UCLA Dual Meet on April 28. In last year’s Crosstown Cup matchup, USC swept the men’s and women’s meets on the backs of strong performances by freshman Earnest Sears III and redshirt junior Dior Hall among other event winners that day.

The month of May will be solely devoted to USC’s quest for Pac-12 and, eventually, NCAA Championships as the team will spend two weekends in Tucson, Ariz. competing against the conference’s best before traveling up to Sacramento, Calif. for the NCAA preliminary competitions. In 2018, Lyndsey Lopes had a particularly dominant run through the Pac-12 Championships, placing fourth in the heptathlon and winning the women’s high jump after clearing a jump at 1.79 meters. Lopes became the first USC conference champion in the women’s high jump and would go on to be named an honorable mention All-American in the event.

To end the season, the Trojans will travel to Austin, Tex. to compete at the national championships, where the women placed first as a team and the men set three collegiate records while taking home a fourth place finish in 2018.

While last season’s standouts including Michael Norman and Kendall Ellis have since graduated, the Trojans are still well positioned to make headlines once again in 2019.