USC track and field: Kendall Ellis sets school record at season’s first meet

The track team started out the year with a bang at the Rod McCravy Invitational in Lexington, Ky. Saturday. Junior Kendall Ellis set the school indoor 400-meter record and both the men’s and women’s 4×400 meter relay teams took home first place. Redshirt sophomore Marquís Morris, redshirt junior Nick Ponzio and redshirt senior Just’N Thymes also placed second overall in their respective individual events.

Ellis placed second with her record-breaking time of 51.52 seconds, coming close behind Miami senior Shakima Wimbley’s time of 51.28 seconds. Her time reduced her previous personal record by 1.25 second while also breaking the previous school record of 52.22 seconds, which was set by senior Jaide Stepter last season.

Freshman Kyra Constantine ran the 400-meter event as well, winning her heat and finishing 12th overall with a time of 54.24 seconds. The race earned her the eighth spot on the Trojans’ all-time indoor 400-meter times.

The women’s 4×400 meter relay team, consisting of senior Cameron Pettigrew, senior Amalie Iuel, Constantine and Ellis, finished with a time of 3:31.72 minutes, moving to become third-fastest on the Trojans’ all-time indoor record for the event. Only three of the 14 teams participating in the 4×400 event finished under 3:35.75 seconds, putting considerable distance between themselves and the opposing teams.

The men’s 4×400 meter team had a similarly fast-paced day, posting the second-fastest time for the event in school history at 3:07.80 to finish in first place. The team consisted of junior Ricky Morgan Jr., junior Robert Ford, redshirt sophomore Zyaire Clemes and Thymes.

Thymes also succeeded during his individual event, placing second in the 60-meter dash and setting a personal record with his time of 6.7 seconds.

Junior Dominic Smallwood and redshirt junior Eric Sloan also ran the 60-meter event, finishing side-by-side at 24th and 25th with respective times of 7.21 seconds and 7.27 seconds. Also taking second in a personal event was Morris, who set a personal record with his 7.81-second finish in the men’s 60-meter hurdles event.

Ponzio also took home a second place finish in shot put after improving steadily to a final throw of 18.87 meters. Sophomore Matthew Katnik started out third overall in the shot put event, but fouled in his final three attempts to finish in fifth.

On the women’s side, redshirt senior Brittany Mann placed third overall in shot put with a 16.49-meter best throw. That mark placed her second in the program’s history.

Two Trojans placed in the women’s 60-meter hurdles event, with freshman Anna Cockrell finishing sixth and redshirt sophomore Dior Hall placing seventh. This was Hall’s first return to competition following an ACL-tear that sidelined her in December of 2015.

Junior Deanna Hill and redshirt sophomore Ky Westbrook both placed in the 60-meter dash finals, with Hill taking fourth with a time of 7.37 seconds and Westbrook taking seventh with a 7.43-second finish.

Redshirt senior Lorea Ibarzabal took eighth in the 800-meter event, moving to sixth-place in Trojan history with a time of 2:10.20 minutes. Sophomore Mikaela Smith finished slightly behind in ninth place with a time of 2:10.33 minutes.

Freshman Chloe Berry and sophomore Amber Gore finished at 20th and 27th in the 1-mile race with times of 5:09.68 minutes and 5:14.34 minutes. The times moved Berry to seventh and Gore to eighth in the overall school women’s record for USC in the 1-mile event.

In the men’s events, junior Robert Ford finished the 800-meter event in 1:48.54 seconds to take fifth overall. Sophomores Nicolaus Jakowec and Trent Rule both set personal records in the men’s 1-mile event, finishing 20th and 23rd with times of 4:19.12 minutes and 4:21.62 minutes.

The Trojans will travel to Fayetteville, Ark. next for the Razorback Invitationals on Friday. The meet will be one of four invitational tournaments before the MPSF Indoor Championships and the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.