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June 12, 2003

Recap?|? Notes

USC Head Coach Curtis Frye: “Overall, it was a luke-warm day and the glass is half-full. On the women’s we had a great day. Tiffany Ross was able to reach the finals in both the 100m and 400m hurdles. Our 4×400 relay team reached the finals with a healthy Miki Barber. Aleen Bailey and Erica Whipple both had great days and reached the 200m dash finals. We have a shot at finishing in the top five. Texas has had a perfect meet so far and LSU, North Carolina and UCLA have had strong showings. We have all the major players in the game and it is a great meet to be involved in.”

“We did not have a great day with the men. Kenneth Ferguson ran hurt and posted a 51.7 in the 400m hurdles and did not reach the finals, but was able to be an All-American. Fred Townsend had a great decathlon with personal records in the pole vault and a win in the high jump. Otis Harris advanced in the 400m dash but Jonathan Fortenberry stumbled out of the block in that race and injured his leg. Otukile Lekote struggled and was unable to get to the 800m finals which was a big loss of potential points for us.”

Aleen Bailey: 200m (200m semifinals): “There was a lot of wind so Coach Frye and I practiced driving for eight steps and maintaining it all the way. Straighten up and tap and I will get through it. I went out there to run a good time and run all the way and make the finals. I will work on doing better on Saturday. (Did you shut it down at all?): I could not see anybody so I the last 20 meters I just cruised in. That’s what Coach Frye wanted me to do. I am happy the races are spaced out because I don’t think I could handle it close. Tomorrow is the 100m and Saturday is the 200m. I have run five races so far (including the 4x100m relay). Our back-ground worked help us prepare for this day so I am glad we had that.”

(200m prelims) “I just wanted to advance to the next round so I can help my teammates win another national championship. I was trying to stay in the 23 range with everybody else but I didn’t have anybody to pace off of so I had to run all the way. I was a little surprised I ran 22 now but I am glad I was able to do it though. I am a little tired now.”

On the California weather. “I am from Jamacia. When they said NCAAs was in California I thought good, California. We thought it was California – (great weather) – but it’s not. We can handle it though because our trainer has been keeping us warm. We’ll just have to dress warm.”

Erica Whipple: 100m (200m semifinals): “I felt like I had to use a real lot of energy. My legs are already sore from competing these last couple of days. In warm-ups I really didn’t do much because I was just trying to save my legs for my race. It helped during the race, but right now they really hurt. It’s time for the ice bath. It will help me tomorrow to run the 4x100m relay and then compete individually – it will be a good warm-up”

(200m prelims): “I felt pretty good in the prelims. I was just trying to qualify for the next round. I knew the top three were going to make it and I knew I was in the top two so the last 50 meters I started to break it down a little. (hard to shut down): It’s not hard to shut it down, I kind of like it that the top three make it so you know you have to run a little under 24 to advance. That’s the easiest way to go for me. It’s not fair for some people, but that’s the way it is. The semi-finals tonight is my last race of the day so I am going to go all out.”

Tiffany Ross: 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles “Last year I was eighth, this year I would like to be top three. I know there are a lot of good people out there, very talented field. I ran 13.01 last year and this year I am trying to break 12 seconds.

(How are you fairing running all events?). “It’s going really good so far. My training and being in shape is really helping me. I am making sure to get ice and massage – things to make it to the next round. I am ready to go.”

(On qualifying for the 400m hurdle finals): “I ran the first part pretty good. Coming off the turn I kind of relaxed because I have a lot of races to run. I am going to handle my business tomorrow. You can’t get points in the semi-finals so I was working to get to the finals. (On the ‘stumble’ on the last hurdle): I switched legs and did the opposite leg. I have been doing that in practice, but I was running much faster in the race. It felt kind of weird. It looked crazy. I am happy to make it back to the finals. I feel great. The 4x400m relay is next.”

Otis Harris: 400m “It felt easy coming down the last stretch. I am blessed that I am healthy. It felt good running today. My strategy was to get out ahead, not make a lot of errors and get control of the race. I felt in control.”

(on Fortenberry getting injured prior to the race): “It does hurt. I feel when he is hurt and he felt when I was hurt indoors. We try to run for each other – he’s my teammate.”

Otukile Lekote: 800m Note: Lekote is the fourth defending champion today to not make the finals of their signature event at the meet (men and women, all events). “I am very disappointed not to make the finals. I don’t know what happened in my race. I lost.”