THE cream of Guyana’s cyclists will be on their saddles tomorrow when the Flying Stars Cycle Club organises the 15th edition of the Victor Macedo Cycle Road Race.The race begins with a roll start at 07:00hrs from the Macedos’ residence, Peter Rose Street, Queenstown.Among the starters expected are defending champion Stephano Husbands, who clocked three hours 11 minutes 20 seconds in winning the event last year as well as the in-form Jamal John, Paul DeNobrega, Andrew Hicks, Briton John, Junior Niles and Romello Crawford.The seniors and juniors will proceed to Long Creek on the Linden/Soesdyke Highway before turning back to finish at the place of origin, while the veterans, juveniles and mountain bikers will turn back at the top of the hill just past Splashmin’s Fun Park and finish on Homestretch Avenue.The first eight finishers overall as well as the top four juniors, the first three juveniles and the top three mountain bikers will be rewarded with cash prizes and trophies for their efforts.Ten prime prizes will be on offer during the course of the race.The event is being sponsored by Macedo Transportation Services, in collaboration with Floyd Macedo, a former cyclist who was very competitive during his time.The winning junior last year was Raphael Leung, while Junior Niles won the veterans category, Adelie Hodge was the first juvenile to cross the finish line and Ozeda McAulley was first among the mountain bikers.The presentation of prizes to the top finishers in each of the categories will be done at the Macedos’ residence, Peter Rose Street, Queenstown.
In addition to the absence of Moore and Tapley, the Trojans lost two of their best scorers to graduation. Former guard Aliyah Mazyck led the Trojans in scoring last season with 15.3 points per game, while former guard Mariya Moore, Minyon’s sister, put up 13 points per game — good for third on the team. The start of USC’s schedule is not particularly daunting this year. Aside from perennial power No. 6 Texas A&M, the Trojans will not face a single non-conference team that made the NCAA tournament last year. Four-star guard Kyra White and three-star guard Madison Campbell have also joined the Trojans this season. Transfers will also play a key role in replacing some of the firepower of the Moore sisters and Mazyck. Watts is joined by fellow graduate transfer and former Morehead State guard Aliyah Jeune. Jeune averaged 16.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game during her senior season as an Eagle and led the team to the second round of the WNIT postseason tournament. Despite the departures, the Trojans haven’t lost confidence that this year’s team can turn things around for the once-historic program. Trakh also said the team’s shooting ability and physical presence will be two of its main assets this season. Overbeck’s confidence in her team is not necessarily misguided. Even though the team lost its top three scorers, a combination of returning players and fresh faces could make the Trojans a formidable team this season. Senior forward Kayla Overbeck will return to lead her team this year after the Trojans lost three key starters in the offseason. ( Ling Luo / Daily Trojan) “I think our guards shoot the ball relatively well,” Trakh said. “I think we’ve got enough size, not overwhelming size, but I think we got enough size and strength and skill level that I think we’ll be competitive. That’s what we want to do. We want to compete every night — night in and night out.” For one, Overbeck returns after starting 26 games last year. The senior is a fierce leader and a physical presence in the post. She will be joined by returning guards sophomore Desiree Caldwell and redshirt sophomore Shalexxus Aaron. Given their experience, Overbeck, Caldwell and Aaron are likely to make the starting five in the opener. After starring for a team that made the NCAA tournament last season, Watts made her intentions for the Trojans’ upcoming season clear. Complementing Watts and Jeune is a crop of highly talented freshmen. USC’s 2019 recruiting class came in at No. 5 according to ESPN and boasts three five-star recruits: point guard Endyia Rogers, center Angel Jackson and forward Alissa Pili, the sister of the football program’s junior defensive tackle Brandon Pili. Despite all of the additions to the roster in the offseason, the transition appears to be going well for USC’s new players. “Why can’t I be the next person to leave a legacy at an amazing school [and] bring back what USC used to be — [a] top school in the Pac-12, top school in the nation?” senior forward Kayla Overbeck said at Pac-12 Media Day. “Why can’t that be us?” After USC went 17-13 and finished in the bottom third of the Pac-12 last season, several of the program’s key players decided to transfer. Senior guard and former captain Minyon Moore left for Oregon after leading the team in rebounds, assists and steals while averaging 14.8 points per game. “Everyone, although we have a lot of new faces, has been just molding together so seamlessly, so I’m glad to be here and glad to be a part of it,” Watts said. “You’ll see a team that plays hard, that’s unified, that’s gonna be a system team,” Trakh said at Pac-12 Media Day. “We want that culture. You’ll see us play hard, [and] you’ll see us play together and that’s what we really have been working on — for all these kids to buy in [and] to be all in on what we want to do this year.” Last year, USC began the season 10-1 before going 7-11 in conference play. Third-year head coach Mark Trakh hopes to flip the script this season by emphasizing a culture of toughness and unity. However, once the Trojans enter Pac-12 play in late December, the story changes. Five Pac-12 teams begin the season among the AP’s top 20 teams, and Oregon and Stanford look especially formidable at No. 1 and No. 3, respectively. “I’m here to put USC back on the map,” she said. “We’re gonna do well in the [Pac-12] tournament. We’re gonna do well in the NCAA tournament … A lot of people are maybe overlooking [us] or a little bit [sleeping on us], but I’m excited to show people less talking and more doing of what we’re gonna do this season.” Following an offseason filled with roster changes and reshuffling, USC women’s basketball will face Cal State Northridge Tuesday in its first game of the season. The Trojans hope to build some early momentum in an effort to make the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years. Senior forward Ja’Tavia Tapley — who put up the second-most rebounds per game after Moore — also decided to leave the program. The former Trojan will be playing for Arizona State this season. Graduate guard Stephanie Watts arrives at USC after setting the ACC on fire last season for North Carolina. She started in 27 games during her redshirt junior season, averaging 15.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game and leading the team with 82 3-pointers on the season. As a graduate transfer, Watts will be eligible to play immediately. This new-look Trojan team will have its first chance to compete 7 p.m. Tuesday at Cal State Northridge.