USC completed a strong campaign under first year head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert after putting forth the final touches at the NCAA Championships, finishing 4th in the men's bracket and 16th overall on the women's side.
These results say a great deal this program, especially if you keep in mind the fact that the men's squad finished inside the top five in back-to-back years for the first time since way back in 1976-77 and the women meanwhile, accomplished their best finish since the 2011 season thanks to this highly trusted and also player-supported coaching staff.
The Trojans kicked off the meet with a fourth-place finish in the men's 4x100m relay in 39.30 seconds, the highest finish by a USC squad since the 1999 team that finished second overall. The Women of Troy stood out for their efforts in the 4x100m relay, finishing second with a blazing 43.00 second time, which was the second fastest in school history.
"I am very proud of this team this weekend," said USC Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert. "We had a great finish to a wonderful meet. The 4x100m's are always heart-wrenching. I always get nervous for the 4x100m. The women were in the lead until the last leg and we ran a season-best time of 43-flat, second on USC's all-time list, so that was very good." -Smith Gilbert told usctrojans.com
On the men's side, the Trojans 4x100m relay team placed fourth with a time of 39.30, which was USC's best finish at the NCAA Championships since 1999 and first rank since the 2005 season. Led by Aaron Brown, who ran the second leg of said competition, the senior finished up his collegiate career in grand fashion.
Brown, the All-American 200m performer in each of the past two seasons, finished second in the men's 200m final. Over his four-year career, Brown scored 29 points at the NCAA Championships which ties him for ninth-place on USC's all-time list. Also of note, sophomore Tynia Gaither returned after anchoring the runner-up women's 4x100m relay to take sixth in the final of the women's 200m in 23.05 seconds.
In a photo finish, Aleec Harris was just barely edged out by Oregon's Devon Allen, who also plays WR on the Football team, competing in Track and Field for the first time, in the 110m Hurdles Final falling short by just 0.02 seconds. The women's 4x400m relay were the last squad to compete, earning a seventh-place finish overall in a time of 3:32.35.
FIRST TEAM: Terence Abram (4x100m), Aaron Brown (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Alex Collatz (discus), Jessica Davis (4x100m, 4x400m), Viktor Fajoyomi (decathlon), Alexis Faulknor (4x100m), Tynia Gaither (100m, 200m, 4x100m), Aleec Harris (110m HH, 4x100m), Vanessa Jones (4x400m), Loudia Laarman (4x100m), BeeJay Lee (4x100m), Ashley Liverpool (4x400m), Akawkaw Ndipagbor (4x400m).
SECOND TEAM: Melia Cox (triple jump), Jessica Davis (100m), Vanessa Jones (400m)
HONORABLE MENTION: Melia Cox (100m HH), Amalie Iuel (400m IH), Oluwakemi Olonade (triple jump), BeeJay Lee (100m).
"We were fourth place and we got a trophy and that was probably the highlight of the day to watch their faces, holding the trophy up with the victory sign. We will be bringing that trophy back to Los Angeles. The women have some things we have to work on - strength and technique - but I was very proud of the performance they showed this meet and this season. They overcame a lot, worked hard and I think it is setting us up, men and women, for a very, very great year next year and is setting us up for recruiting. Our shield is being recognized and we are going to be able to do some awesome things in the years to come, so Fight On!" -Coach Smith Gilbert summates about the overall direction of her program.