Trojans start 2010 Gauntlet competition at full speed

For the last nine years, the Crosstown Gauntlet trophy has been awarded to the winner of the 19-sport head-to-head competition between USC and UCLA held each school year.

Katrina MacGregor | Daily Trojan

The set-up is simple: Points are awarded to either school after a victory against the other in any of the sports in which the two face off. The Gauntlet is given to the first side to gain 57.5 points — just enough to ensure the majority of the total 114 points awarded.

The number of points awarded depends on the sport being played; a victory in football adds 10 points to the school’s total, while wins in men’s basketball, women’s basketball and women’s volleyball all have 10 cumulative points at stake during the course of the season. All other sports play for a total of five points each.

As has been the story for the previous three years in which USC has won the Gauntlet, the early stages of the 2010 competition have been good for the Trojans, who have taken a 7.5-to-zero lead against UCLA after two matches.

On Sept. 19, the No. 1 USC men’s water polo team eked out an 11-10 victory against No. 2 UCLA in Berkeley, Calif., which, along with a share of Gauntlet points, secured the NorCal Tournament title for the Trojans.

The team got the opportunity to face UCLA in the championship match by eliminating No. 1 California 12-11 in the semifinal round. In the rematch of the 2009 NCAA national championship, the Trojans held off a furious Bruin rally in the fourth period to capture the tournament title.

In addition, the No. 6 USC women’s volleyball team beat the No. 11 Bruins last Friday at the Galen Center to open its conference season. The 3-1 victory broke a three-match losing streak to the Bruins and improved USC’s record to 12-0.

In the history of the competition, USC has won six Gauntlets to UCLA’s three. After the Trojans won the inaugural award in 2001, the Gauntlet has switched hands every year until USC managed to string together three straight victories.

The Trojans claimed the Gauntlet victory for the past year on May 1, with wins from the men’s and women’s track and field teams as well as women’s rowing team to contribute 65 points to the total.

The all-sports competition was previously sponsored by Lexus until the car manufacturer’s contract expired last year.

The search for a sponsor continued, but the schools could not find a suitable replacement; instead, the school’s athletic departments keep the official counts.

The next match-up with points at stake will occur at the women’s soccer match on Oct. 22 at the Coliseum.