Track and field heads to NCAA preliminaries

Sophomore Twanisha “Tee Tee” Terry had the fastest qualifying time for the 100-meter dash at 11.09 seconds. (Ling Luo/Daily Trojan)

USC’s men’s and women’s track and field teams will head to Sacramento to compete in the NCAA West Preliminary Championships Thursday. The event comes on the heels of impressive performances at the Pac-12 Championships earlier this month where the women’s team won first place and the men’s team placed fifth. This is the second consecutive year the women’s team has earned the Pac-12 title for Southern California.

Since the Pac-12 finals, several Trojans have been recognized by the conference for their stellar performances this season.

Redshirt junior sprinter Angie Annelus was named Women’s Track Athlete of the Year. Annelus earned the most points of any single Trojan athlete at the championships by winning the 200-meter sprint event, placing second in the 100-meter dash and competing on the first-place 4x100m relay team. She is the second consecutive Trojan to win the award after Kendall Ellis received the honor last season.

Freshman hurdler and multi-event competitor Ayden Owens was named Men’s Freshman of the Year. In April, he set a USC record in the decathlon event with 8,130 points at the Bryan Clay Invitational, and currently leads the NCAA in this event.

Freshman sprinter and jumper Lanae-Tava Thomas was named Women’s Freshman of the Year. Thomas led USC freshmen in points at the Pac-12 Championships, finishing second in the 200-meter sprint and third in the 100-meter dash; he also competed on the winning 4x100m relay team.

Track and field director Caryl Smith Gilbert was also named Women’s Head Coach of the Year. This is the third time that Smith Gilbert has earned a coaching distinction and the second consecutive year that she was named Women’s Coach of the Year.

“We’re changing the culture,” Gilbert said in an interview with Pac-12 Network. “We’re developing a program, not just a team.”

At the NCAA West Preliminary Championships, Annelus and Thomas will be joined in the 100-meter dash by sophomore Twanisha “Tee Tee” Terry who qualified with a time of 11.09 seconds — the fastest qualifying time. The trio will also compete in the 200-meter event. Sophomore Kaelin Roberts, junior Kyra Constantine and freshman Bailey Lear will represent USC in the 400-meter sprint event.

In the 100-meter hurdle event, sophomore Chanel Brissett, senior Dior Hall and juniors Anna Cockrell and Mecca McGlaston will race for USC. Cockrell will also compete in the 400-meter hurdles. The Trojan women will also be competing in the 4x100m and 4x400m races, where they are favored to win.

On the men’s side, freshmen Brendon Stewart and Daniel Robinson will compete along with junior Alexander Barnum in the 100-meter dash. Robinson and Stewart will also compete in the 200-meter sprint alongside fellow freshman Eric Allen Jr. In the 800-meter sprint, junior Isaiah Jewett and freshman Sam VanDorpe will run for USC.

Freshman Omotade Ojora and senior Marquis Morris will be competing in the 110-meter hurdle event while sophomore Cameron Samuel will run in the 400-meter hurdle event after having qualified with the fastest time.

After competing in the Pac-12 Championship, the women’s team currently ranks second in the nation while the men’s team ranks 10th. They look to continue their successful seasons at the NCAA West Preliminary Championships in order to qualify for finals, which will be held in June in Austin, Texas.

The Women of Troy will begin their quest to repeat as national champions after narrowly securing the title by a single point last year.

“It is great to know that we can [win the national championship], and we’ll use that as fuel to go forward,” Gilbert said. “But as I said before, last year was last year. It’s 2019 now.”