Hurdlers highlight USC’s solid performance at home

The USC track and field team hurdled over the competition at Saturday’s Trojan Invitational at Loker Stadium, the team’s only true home meet of the 2010 season.

The Trojans won all four hurdle races, giving them the top team marks both nationally and collegiately, in a performance that USC coach Ron Allice hopes is just the start of a season filled with record-setting efforts.

“The times we ran are certainly times we thought we were capable of,” Allice said. “We hope that it’s just the beginning and that we can keep improving into May and June.”

When asked if his hurdlers can do better, Allice without hesitation said,  “Absolutely.”

They  have tough marks to top. Junior Oscar Spurlock highlighted USC’s dominating showing with a victory in the men’s 110-meter high hurdles, posting a time of 13.83 that currently stands as the fastest in the world.

Not to be outdone, freshman standout Reggie Wyatt posted the best U.S. time and the seventh best in the world in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles with a 50.91, nearly a second and a half faster than the second place finisher.

The USC men weren’t the only group who posted nationally ranked times on Saturday. Senior hurdler Shalina Clarke won the women’s 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.69 seconds, slightly slower her nation-leading time of 13.41 set last week. Additionally, sophomore Dalilah Muhammad added her name to the world rankings with a 58.50 in the women’s 400-meter intermediate hurdles, besting marquee Texas hurdler Angele Cooper.

The hurdlers were joined on Saturday by several other strong performers from USC’s other events. Senior sprinter Ahmad Rashad, the second place finisher in the men’s 100-meter dash at last year’s NCAA championships, won Saturday’s 100-meter with a time of 10.61, a mark all the more impressive considering the 1.5 meters per second headwind.

“That’s a pedestrian time for Ahmad, absolutely,” Allice said. “I was more impressed with the fact that he did everything technically correct. A win is a win, though.”

Rashad was also part of the men’s 4×100-meter relay team, which made its season debut Saturday without any signs of rust, winning with a time of 41.01 seconds.

The USC distance squad also made its presence known with a handful of fine races. Junior Zsofia Erdelyi won the women’s 3000-meter race with a personal best time of 9:27.96 in her first race of the 2010 season.

Also making his mark was sophomore Blake Shaw, who ran USC’s first ever sub four-minute mile during the indoor season. On Saturday Shaw ran a personal best 3:47.49 in the men’s 1500-meter, placing second in the race but moving him to seventh all time in Trojans history for the event.

Despite all the gaudy numbers, however, Allice says his team’s focus remains on the weeks ahead, specifically this weekend’s Stanford Invitational.

“Overall, I was pleased; I thought our people competed,” Allice said. “But I think people get too wrapped up in marks and times. At this stage in the game, we’re still focused on next week and also a month, two months from now.”