Track and Field teams return for Trojan Invitational

Graduate Student Bobby Poynter won both the 800m and 1500m events at the Aztec Invitational in San Diego. He will look to help USC win more events at the Ron and Sharlene Allice Trojan Invitational this weekend. (Tomoki Chien | USC Athletics)

USC’s men’s and women’s track and field teams will compete at home in the Ron and Sharlene Allice Trojan Invitational at Allyson Felix Field in the Loker Track Stadium and Colich Center on Friday and Saturday. This event marks the second invitational of the outdoor season. 

Currently, the women’s outdoor track and field team ranks No. 2 in the nation while the men’s team sits at No. 16. At the Trojans’ first invitational of the season, the Aztec Invitational at San Diego State University March 25, both the women’s and men’s teams won, scoring 154.5 and 160 points, respectively. As a whole, the team earned first-place in nine events.

As the Trojan Invitational approaches, USC Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Quincy Watts says the focus is on building the confidence of his athletes. 

“Just because they are freshman and sophomore does not mean they don’t belong,” Watts said. “I want them to have that confidence because they are among the best, they are among the best in terms of times-wise and throws and marks in the nation. I just want them to believe that they are regardless of how young they are.”

In 2022, the women’s track and field team earned fourth at the Pac-12s and 30th at the NCAA championship while the men’s team earned third at Pac-12s and 12th at the NCAA championship. At the moment, Watts has his sights set on winning the Pac-12 championship, placing top 12 in the West and eventually winning the national championship. 

“We want to advance as many student athletes as possible,” Watts said. “Once you advance as many student athletes as possible, then you have a great opportunity to score.”

Sophomore Gigi Maccagnini, who won the 800m at the Aztec Invitational, hopes to set a personal record and compete for a national championship. At the Trojan Invitational she will compete in the 400m. 

“I’m actually doing the 400 just to work on the speed aspect of the 800,” Maccagnini said. “In terms of the 800 there’s still a little bit of work to do for the rest of the season. I need to finish off the last 200 of my race and my coach and I are working on that in training.”

Graduate student Bobby Poynter, who won the 800m and 1500m at San Diego State, believes the team is on the right trajectory to compete at nationals. 

“The best thing I could do is just be a leader for others and do my part, and that’s going to help the team as a whole,” Poynter said. “The team’s definitely a bit younger so I think especially indoors you might have had some growing pains and some things we had to work out but I think the group is starting to mature a little bit and I definitely have a lot of excitement and promise for the rest of this outdoor season.”

The Ron and Sharlene Allice Trojan Invitational is set to begin at noon Friday at the South Bay Throws Facility with women’s discus throw. On Saturday, the meet will continue at the Allyson Felix in the Katherine B Loker Track Stadium, with field events beginning at 10 a.m. and running events starting at 11:30 a.m.