The USC track and field team defended home ground during Saturday’s Trojan Invitational at Loker Stadium. The meet was not only the first outdoor event of the year to be held at USC, but the first to pit USC against more skilled competition consisting of teams ranked in the top 25.
The invitational was an important benchmark for the team in the outdoor season. Its performance gave an early idea as to how the squad might perform as the season goes on.
Taking first place in 12 different events, the team barely inched past rivals Oregon and Texas A&M, both of whom won 10 events. Texas A&M has defended the NCAA men’s outdoor title for the past three years and Oregon just recently won the NCAA women’s indoor title.
Regardless of past performances, these three teams dominated the invitational and regularly placed in the top three during both days of the meet. The competition remained close to the very end, culminating in the men’s 4×400-meter relay, a neck-and-neck battle between Texas A&M and USC that featured several dramatic lead changes.
Despite the intense competition, USC prevailed in the men’s 4×400-meter, simultaneously taking most event wins while preventing Texas A&M from tying for the same title. With that victory, the men’s 4×400-meter relay team (consisting of sophomore Josh Mance, junior Reggie Wyatt and seniors Joey Hughes and Bryshon Nellum) set a school record and world-leading time of 3:02.24 for the 2012 outdoor season.
Key victories for USC on the field included first-place finishes in both men’s and women’s long jump.
Junior Alitta Boyd won the women’s event while USC football wide receiver Marqise Lee won the men’s event. Freshman Melia Cox won the women’s triple jump, while fellow freshman Alexandra Collatz finished first in women’s discus throw. Freshman Daniel Szabo and senior captain Marissa Minderler both won the men’s and women’s hammer throw respectively.
USC also clinched several key victories on the track, a number of them over rival Texas A&M. Sophomore Aaron Brown took first place in the men’s 100-meter, although Texas A&M’s Dominique Duncan beat sophomore Loudia Laarman in the women’s 100-meter.
Senior Zsofia Erdelyi secured the first win for the Women of Troy, taking top honors in the women’s 3000-meter. Mance won the men’s 400-meter while Wyatt won the men’s 400-meter hurdles.