Southern California has won two women’s track and field outdoor championships in the last five seasons (not counting the COVID-19 canceled 2020 season). That’s the most of any program in the NCAA over that span. The 2021 and 2018 titles added to a storied Trojan history, filled with decades of great athletes. With so much success, we created an all-time relay team of USC women’s track and field greats.
Three relays are currently held at NCAA Championships — the 4x100 meter relay, the 4x400 meter relay and the Distance Medley Relay. But which one fits USC for an all-time team the best?
USC has never won a DMR and has won four 4x4 titles to three 4x1 titles. With just one title separating the 4x4 and 4x1, it’s a close call for which relay to pick. However, the versatility of Kendall Ellis (more on her lately) combined with the more recent 4x1 title wins in 2021 and 2019 makes the 4x100 meter relay the pick for the Trojans.
That said, let’s get into the all-time team.
The USC women's track and field all-time relay team
*The first DI women’s champion was crowned in 1982. This list looks at athletes since that season*
1. Angela Williams
Angela Williams is one of four women to win four straight outdoor titles in an individual event, and she is the first man or woman to win four straight 100 meter titles, doing so from 1999-2002. Additionally, she won the 2002 60 meter title during the indoor season, but more importantly, she ran lead off on USC’s first-ever national championship-winning 4x100 meter relay in 2000. Oh, and she led the Trojans to their first women's title in 2001.
With a resume like that, Williams is the clear choice to start off this all-time team.
2. Angie Annelus
Individually, Annelus won back-to-back 200 meter outdoor titles in 2018 and 2019, while finishing in sixth place in the 200 outdoors during an injury-filled 2021 campaign. Her points scored in 2018 and 2021 helped the Trojans win their second and third women’s team titles. That’s an impressive resume which on its own would be considered for a spot on this all-time team.
Yet, when adding in Annelus’ success as the second leg of the 2019 and 2021 NCAA title-winning 4x1 teams, it solidifies her spot. Annelus helped lead USC to end a seven-year drought of back-to-back 4x1 NCAA champions with her performances. She also is a part of the two fastest 4x1 relays in Trojan history.
3. Kendall Ellis
Ellis was going to make a USC all-time relay team, whether it was the 4x1 or 4x4. She ran anchor leg on three of USC’s title-winning 4x4 races, including the track comeback to end all comebacks in 2018. It’s her impressive recovery in the 2018 4x4 outdoor final that leads me to believe she can run the third leg of this all-time relay.
For context, Ellis is not only a 4x4 runner — even though her achievements in the 4x4 drew national headlines. Ellis ran the 4x1 nine times in her college career, and set the then-school record as the second leg in a 42.57-second race in 2018. In fact, Ellis helped USC to a third-place national finish in the 4x1 in 2018 by running the second leg.
While Ellis never ran a third leg on any of those races, her ability to overcome adversity in the 2018 4x4 outdoor final gives me confidence that if placed on the third leg of the USC all-time relay, she could figure it out. She has an indoor 400 meter title under her belt too, so she clearly knows how to run a curve. I think Ellis can fit here as the third leg before handing off the baton to the anchor.
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4. Twanisha “TeeTee” Terry
Terry’s success as an anchor leg of a 4x1 relay is well documented. She won two NCAA titles in 2021 and 2019 running anchor, and she ran anchor on the two fastest relays in USC history at 42.21 and 42.44 seconds. Terry’s top-end speed is always on full display running down the homestretch, and if her speed was ever in question, she has a 2019 60 meter title to back it up. Terry was an easy pick to close out USC’s all-time relay team.
- Anna Cockrell
- Kinshasa Davis
- Malika Edmonson
- Natasha Mayers
- Lanae-Tava Thomas
- Virginia Powell
At first glance, Anna Cockrell seems like a shocking omission from the list. She won relay titles in the indoor and outdoor 4x4 in 2018 and she has the short speed for the 4x1 as demonstrated by her 2021 100 hurdles title. However, she didn’t run in a 4x1 relay in her career at USC so she doesn’t make the list.
Cockrell’s former teammate Lanae-Tava Thomas would’ve been the perfect choice for the third-leg on this team since she ran the leg in the 2019 and 2021 title wins, but she didn’t finish her career with the Trojans, instead transferring to Texas for her final season.
Similarly, Malika Edmonson is another tantalizing candidate for the third leg of this all-time relay. Edmonson won USC’s first-ever 4x1 title in 2000 running the third leg, but her injury in 2001 kept her and the Trojans from repeating as the event champions, as USC finished second without her. Two 4x1 titles would’ve got her the nod, but without it, Ellis’ past 4x1 school record gets the nod.
Former 100 hurdles collegiate record holder and 2005-06 100 hurdles NCAA champion Virginia Powell is another notable omission. She ran lead off on USC’s school-record setting 4x1 relay team in 2006 — the 42.96 school record lasted for a decade — but it’s almost impossible to place Powell in front of Williams for that lead off given the latter’s 100-meter success.