In a national championship event, the heart beats faster, time moves slowly and the pressure can be suffocating. It’s where collegiate athletes can make or break their career path.
Behind record-breaking performances, the Trojans won their second NCAA outdoor National Championship in three years Saturday.
Redshirt senior sprinter and hurdler Anna Cockrell stole the show. She not only broke the 400-meter hurdles school record but became the second person to ever win the 400-meter hurdles and 100-meter hurdles in the same season.
USC put up 74 total points after a full day of competition, which is the most points they’ve ever received. It is also the highest point total since Texas A&M scored 75 in 2014.
Points are given based on finishes in the top-six of individual events — first place receives 10 points, second place gets 8; points then decrease by 2 until sixth place, which receives only 1. In relay events, first place is awarded 20 points, second place gets 16. Points then decrease by 4 until sixth place which receives only 2.
The Trojans are now the only program to finish in the top three in each of their last four championship meets. During USC Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert’s six-year tenure, USC has put up a combined 289 points in the NCAA Championship — the most in a six-year span by the Trojans.
A day after their victory, USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn announced that Smith Gilbert would leave USC to become the University of Georgia’s new director of Track & Field.
The 4×100 relay team of Jasmine Jones, Angie Annelus, Lanae-Tava Thomas and TeeTee Terry won the event for the second year in a row with a time of 42.82. The last time a team repeated this event was in 2013-14 when Texas A&M did so.
Redshirt senior sprinters Kyra Constantine and Nicole Yeargin and junior sprinter Bailey Lear all finished within the top seven in the 400-meter final. Constantine’s personal record time of 50.87 moved her to third all time on USC’s list. Her performance also marked her as the fourth Trojan to score in the event twice.
Freshman jumper Temi Ojora also contributed with an eighth-place finish in the triple jump. Ojora’s teammate freshman jumper Morgan Smalls placed fourth in the high jump with a collegiate-best clearance of 6-0.50. The clearance ties for the highest by a Trojan in the finals.
In the final event, the championship already secured, USC’s 4×400 relay team ran the second-fastest time of 3:24:54 in school history. The Trojans were crowned champions, and eleven athletes were named All-Americans including Smalls, Ojora and Constantine.
Even with the tremendous success of the women’s team, men’s Track & Field managed to finish fifth in the Men’s NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship. Redshirt senior Isaiah Jewett also set the school record in the men’s 800-meter run.