USC: Ron Allice

Robey and Lee will do track, Morgan won't

March, 23, 2012
When you get drafted, are your track skills going to get you a contract or your football skills?

Lane Kiffin asked cornerback Nickell Robey that very question this week, when the junior Robey was presented with a decision between track and football for his Saturday afternoon whereabouts. The Trojans' first big track meet of the season, taking place Saturday on campus, coincides with the USC's first scrimmage of the spring.

Robey, Marqise Lee, Tony Burnett and D.J. Morgan -- the football team's four track participants -- can only do one of the two events because of NCAA rules restricting student-athlete hours in a given week. Everybody but Morgan will do track.

Of course, Robey says Kiffin was joking about the football-track thing. And the head coach supported Robey, Lee and Burnett's decision to do track instead of football, even though the parties involved said it was tough to pick.

Burnett didn't realize until this week that he wouldn't be able to do both. Robey said it was a tough decision to make once he was given the choice of only one or the other.

"Should I ditch the track meet and do the scrimmage?" he said Thursday. "It was a thought that popped into my head."

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Track finals set for Saturday

June, 14, 2010
The conditions on the campus of the University of Oregon are contentious and the new NCAA system of qualifications is questionable, but USC director of track and field Ron Allice's team is still very much in contention for the annual NCAA Championship, to be determined Saturday after a four-day melee between all of the nation's top teams.

At the time of this writing, the USC men stood in 11th place, with the women scoreless and in a tie for 34th, but the majority of finals — and big-ticket races like the 4x400-meter relay finals and the 100-meter final, surprisingly not featuring star Trojan sprinter Ahmad Rashad — are set for Saturday (10 a.m. PT, CBS), when the national winner will be determined.

Allice, in his 16th season with the Trojans, isn't exactly nervous. But confident wouldn't be the right word to describe his state of mind either.

"I believe we're ready," he said earlier this week. "But so is the rest of the country. We've just gotta get settled, get everything lined up and then see what happens."

The controversial qualification system, implemented earlier this year by the NCAA, put multiple regionals across the nation and allowed fewer runners to qualify from each, changing the dynamics of what had been a long-standing system. Allice isn't happy with its preliminary results.

"Are we a good team?" Allice asked himself Wednesday. "We're a good team, but the idea is to know how we are going to be in this regional format and the NCAA's — I don't know. I can't predict it.

Top finishers for USC so far have been the relay team — featuring Joey Hughes, Jason Price, Nate Anderson and anchor Reggie Wyatt — that ran the second-best qualifying time among all heats and junior hurdler Oscar Spurlock, who ran a 12.65 time in the 110-meter hurdles Thursday to qualify for Saturday's finals.

Rashad, who finished second at the championships last June, did not qualify for the 100-meter finals after he was disqualified for a false start.

Allice is not happy with Oregon's weather either. It had been raining off and on in Eugene earlier in the week, and, despite the toning down as the meets have gone on — shows just a 20 percent chance of precipitation today — he contends it has already hurt some of his competitors.

Senior Brandon Estrada finished in a tie for fifth in the pole-vaulting competition Thursday after his attempts were delayed for more than an hour by rain. He told USC's official site it was "the most difficult competition" he'd ever been in because of that aspect.

"You ever try to pole vault in the rain?" Allice asked earlier this week. "Not so fun."

Track: USC's Rashad on brink of record

May, 15, 2010
The words of wisdom come from USC's director of track and field Ron Allice.

"Why could anybody be possibly scared about running a race when they may have to run from being hurt seriously in the street?" asks Allice. "What are the consequences to not having a good day on the track in relation to a loss of a someone in your family?

"That keeps things in perspective."

Allice is talking, indirectly, about his track star, senior sprinter Ahmad Rashad, who has quite the story. After three mostly successful seasons at USC, Rashad, a Flint, Mich. native who lost his mother as a 16-year-old high school junior and his grandmother while in college, appears to be peaking — and at just the right time. With legitimate hopes to win the 100-meter national title come June, Rashad's also the clear favorite to win the 100- and 200-meter titles in the Pac-10 championships this weekend.

A win in either race would make the 5-foot-10 speedster the first conference sprinter to be a three-time winner since the event switched from yards to meters in 1976, an accomplishment not at all lost on his coaches. They credit it not to sheer athletic ability but, rather, to a rare sense of discipline and wherewithal, an elegant running style and an attention to detail unheard of among most top-flight sprinters.

"He's certainly the finest sprinter that we've had at USC in my 16 years here," Allice says. "We've had other more explosive athletes, other more durable athletes, but nobody's run as fast as he has. I don't think there is anyone that is more graceful and fluid in his movements as Ahmad."

As a freshman, Rashad was already highly-touted as the Trojans' top short-distance runner, specializing in the 100 and 200-meter races. Since then, he's worked on a variety of aspects on and off the track. His sprints coach, ex-Long Beach State sprinter John Henry Johnson, says Rashad has made "really significant technical leaps" relating to the start of races but also mentions eating habits and day-before-race preparation.

"The biggest difference in Ahmad now is that he's really taken ownership in all of the details of becoming a champion sprinter," Johnson says. "He's not just out there running anymore."

Not that you could blame him if he was. Plenty of minds would be elsewhere given all that has happened to Rashad recently. But, in an unusual way, Rashad's running benefited from losses.

"I can't imagine how difficult that must have been for him, at such a young age," Johnson said. "It's obviously built a lot of internal strength in him, in knowing that he can overcome so manythings."

See, just as Allice said, the prospect of winning or losing a track meet tends to matter a lot less when compared to the prospect of winning or losing a loved one. And, to Rashad, the potential for competition is anything but scary.

More like easy, almost.

Courtesy of
USC senior sprinter Ahmad Rashad is aiming to become the first Pac-10 runner to win either the 100- or 200-meter race for the third time.

"With my mother dying and my grandmother dying within these last five years, that was something hard to deal with," Rashad said. "I take that with me every time I go to the track. And it doesn't really overwhelm me to run against competition, just because of what I've been through."

He tends to overwhelm the competition, though — when healthy, at least. Rashad missed most of his sophomore season due to a nagging hamstring injury and has missed stints due to other injuries throughout his four years in Troy. Still, at his best, Rashad is a real threat to the 10-second mark in the 100-meter and even more of a threat to sprinters nationwide.

Or, as Allice says, "he is poetry on the track."

Poetry aside, Rashad, 22, still has plenty of room for improvement.

"I think that we're a few years away from anything approaching a limit," Johnson says. "He's still not as strong as I'd like him to be, there's still things in practice that he hasn't accomplished that other sprinters I've had have had.

"He's going to continue to get better — significantly — in the next three or so years."

As for now, Pac-10 preliminaries in the 100- and 200-meter races and 4x100-meter relays were held Saturday, and, as expected, Rashad qualified for the finals in each of them.

Records could be broken, but Rashad's goals aren't to break into the USC 100-meter all-time list or set a personal record or any of that jazz. He has very specific goals for Sunday's races, and — fittingly — for every race he comes across in the future.

What exactly are they?

"Just win," Rashad says. "Just win."



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