Thad Scherer is finally getting his big break. The freshman was one of twelve USC students who competed in USC College Star, a collegiate singing competition modeled after American Idol, on Thursday at the Belasco Theater.Scherer, who is majoring in theatre, has won $1,000 and will now have the opportunity to produce and record his own single with Grammy-winning producers.USC College Star started out with Brent Freed’s vision to bring the competition to USC’s campus. A junior at UC Berkeley and the founder and CEO of the organization, Freed successfully launched the show at his own school before deciding to give it a shot at USC.“I wanted to create a unique platform for college students to showcase their talent and meet other talented students,” Freed said. “Our goal is to have contestants leave our show inspired to pursue their music and also use it to do good in the world.”Anyone who wished to participate was welcome to submit an audition video through College Star’s online channel. From there, 24 applicants were selected to participate in a “Boot Camp” Weekend, and 12 of them advanced to the final round at the Belasco.Each student performed a song of their choice and was evaluated by a panel of four judges. The winner was determined by the judges’ scores, combined with votes from the live audience.Scherer chose to sing a mash-up of “S&M” by Rihanna and “Earned It” by The Weeknd. After all the scores and votes were calculated, Scherer was announced the official winner of USC College Star 2016.“Winning College Star felt like a dream,” Scherer said. “I imagined every great moment I’ve had at USC … and all those moments combined might have gotten close to how special it felt to perform on stage.”Freed explained that he created the live show aspect of College Star specifically to give contestants a greater stage and more performance experience.“Not every college student is pursuing a music major,” Freed said. “I wanted to give anyone who is passionate about music — engineers, philosophers, a cappella singers — the chance to perform in front of hundreds of people, meet industry experts and simply grow as an artist.”This year, the live show was hosted by Grant Genske, the winner of College Star UC Berkeley 2014. Having won the competition previously, Genske found it very rewarding to be on the other side this time and help students showcase their talents.“It was a total pleasure to host College Star and work with these 12 wonderful students,” Genske said. “Our judges were insightful and fun, the top 12 students were flawless in their performances, and the crowd was lively and engaged — that’s everything we can hope for in this show.”The only one to combine two songs in his performance, Scherer is grateful he had this opportunity to showcase his own arrangement.“It is so unique to find a university that fosters so much passion,” Scherer said. “Whether it be electrical engineering or music, you can tell how much dedication and love people put into the things they are doing here, and I could really see that in each and every performance during the finals.”
All three are expected to be ready for the regular season, however, and their absence gives inexperienced or forgotten players the chance to showcase their skills against a talented group of Trojan receivers. As the team continues to grow, they haven’t forgotten last season’s emotions. Redshirt freshman cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart runs during spring football practice. (Josh Dunst / Daily Trojan) “The defensive line has been probably the most impressive, just with their techniques up front,” Pendergast said. “The inside linebacker position with the young guys has been fun to watch. They’ve really picked up their ability to blitz inside.” All USC teams are talented, but this one faces the monumental task of making fans forget about the team’s frustrating 2018 campaign. The defense in particular has a lot of questions to answer: The unit lost four major contributors from 2018 in linebackers Porter Gustin and Cam Smith, cornerback Iman Marshall and safety Marvell Tell. “Honestly, it helps us more because we’re able to learn more positions on the field and get used to playing inside and outside instead of corner sticking to corner, safety sticking to safety,” said redshirt freshman cornerback Chase Williams. “It helps us all to learn every position on the field and, at the end of the day, it gets our conditioning up.” “What I want is a bunch of leadership,” Burns said. “Even the freshman [are] communicating, being boisterous about situations and encouraging each other. I think we have a crop of leaders, not just in the secondary but on the defensive side.” “The technique as a corner is very important, especially getting your hands on them, stopping them from running their route, making it a lot tougher for the [quarterback] to make the throws,” Taylor-Stuart said. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said putting players at multiple positions helps the coaches as well as the players. “When you’re teaching the defense, when you’re putting it in in the spring, trying to find out what guys do best, what gives them the best opportunity not only for the team but for them as well, you have to kind of mix and match,” Pendergast said. Taylor-Stuart and Williams said their work with defensive backs coach Greg Burns helped them pick up the slack. “We want to come out and dominate and compete every day,” redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu said of his position group. “We want to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we did last season because we felt we didn’t do what we were supposed to.” Taylor-Stuart echoed Burns’ philosophy of emphasizing on proper technique, especially when it came to physicality with receivers. The other areas of the defense have had a bit more luck healthwise. Pendergast said he has liked what he has seen from the defensive line and inside linebackers. Nothing can be taken for granted when a team has everything to prove. That is the mindset the USC football team holds halfway through its spring practice schedule. “I just like working against whoever steps up,” said redshirt freshman cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart, a highly-ranked recruit who missed much of last season due to injuries. “I like working with [senior Michael] Pitt[man], [redshirt-junior] Tyler Vaughns, [sophomore] Amon-ra St. Brown — it doesn’t matter who steps up. As long as I work and get better, that’s all that matters.” With young players stepping up, Burns said he didn’t care who emerged as a leader, just that they communicate. The injuries have forced the remaining defensive backs to fill in at every position in the secondary, which can be mentally and physically tiring but also rewarding. The team is dealing with particular challenges replacing those last two players, however. The Trojans are dealing with injuries to sophomore cornerback Olaijah Griffin (shoulder) and sophomore safety Talanoa Hufanga (collarbone), both of whom were poised to get significant playing time in the defensive backfield. Even freshman cornerback Max Williams is currently unavailable as he recovers from a knee injury that ended his senior season of high school. “He’s super detailed, he gets down to the real nitty-gritty stuff and he pushes us,” Williams said. “Each day, he gets more and more intense, but at the same time, he stays on the fundamentals. He continues to have us repeat the same drills, the same techniques because they transfer to the field.” Taylor-Stuart said he has liked the team’s energy as spring ball has progressed. We’re a lot more competitive,” he said. “We know what losing feels like, and we don’t want to lose anymore. If we just have that winning mentality, not thinking about losing but only getting better … we just keep winning like that.
WATCH US LIVE COMMENT SUBSCRIBE TO US The Minnesota Twins placed two more regulars on the injured list Thursday, with center fielder Byron Buxton and catcher Mitch Garver joining third baseman Josh Donaldson on the sideline.Buxton has inflammation in his left shoulder, which he had surgery on almost a year ago. President of baseball operations Derek Falvey said this issue is not connected to the labrum tear that required the operation. Buxton aggravated the discomfort with his headfirst slide into home Tuesday for the winning run in the 12th inning against Milwaukee. He’s batting .221 with five homers and 12 RBIs in 21 games this season.Garver has a mild intercostal muscle strain on his right side, an injury suffered while swinging Wednesday against the Brewers. He’s hitting .154 with one homer and two RBIs in 17 games.Donaldson missed his 18th straight game Thursday with a strained right calf. Starting pitcher Homer Bailey has also been on the injured list for the last three weeks with right biceps tendinitis.Outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. and catcher Ryan Jeffers were called up to fill in for Buxton and Garver. Jeffers, the team’s second-round draft pick in 2018, batted .296 with 21 homers and 82 RBIs in 167 games over his first two minor league seasons, finishing 2019 with Double-A Pensacola. He was in the lineup Thursday for his major league debut.The Twins also made a bullpen move by optioning left-hander Lewis Thorpe to their alternate training site and recalled right-hander Zack Littell.Image credits: AP Last Updated: 21st August, 2020 07:54 IST Twins Place Buxton, Garver On Growing Injured List The Minnesota Twins placed two more regulars on the injured list Thursday, with center fielder Byron Buxton and catcher Mitch Garver joining third baseman Josh Donaldson on the sideline Associated Press Television News FOLLOW US Written By LIVE TV First Published: 21st August, 2020 07:54 IST
Salmon scientist, Megan McPhee. (in red jacket) leads a group on a field trip to a salmon spawning stream near Petersburg as part of the Rainforest Festival. (Photo by Angela Denning/KFSK)The 11th annual Rain Forest Festival wrapped up in Petersburg this weekend. This year’s theme focused on salmon. There were many workshops and field trips on and off the water.Listen nowAbout 20 miles south of Petersburg by road, a few Chinook salmon are slowly swimming in a very shallow gravel creek. They’re not looking very fresh at this point.Megan McPhee is leading our small group. She’s with the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences with the University of Alaska Fairbanks.“Oh, there’s digging right there, you see the female on her side?” McPhee said. “She’s flopping and so what she’s doing is digging a depression in the gravel. And that does two things. It makes a little hole that she could put the eggs in. And also you’ll notice when she does that you’ll see a cloud of silt come up in the water and then float away. So it cleans the silt out of the water.”Too much silt isn’t good for the eggs because it can suffocate them.Salmon are an unusual fish because while most species take days to weeks for their eggs to hatch, salmon take months. They overwinter in the gravel. Today, the effort to nest the eggs is everything these salmon are living for.“They’re hormones are just going nuts, their stress hormones are off the charts,” McPhee said. “Their body’s decomposing, their immune system’s gone. They start to get covered in fungus because their scales reabsorb into their bodies so they have calcium in their bodies and they, yeah, they just fall apart. It’s really interesting and kind of sad.”McPhee gave the festival’s keynote address at the town’s auditorium. She’s done a lot of salmon research around Alaska and has studied why salmon are smaller than they used to be. She says there likely several reasons why. One is because they’re returning to spawn at a younger age. Studies show that salmon are growing faster and returning to spawn earlier. And that makes them smaller.“So it’s kind of a paradox,” McPhee said. “A faster growing fish will actually be among the smaller of the adults because they surpass a threshold for size at an earlier age where their internal status tells them it’s time to mature.”Another reason could be an increase in predators targeting larger salmon specifically, like killer whales and salmon sharks. There are a lot of unknowns. She says there’s much more research that needs to be done.Salmon Scientist, Megan McPhee, talks to a field trip group about a spawned out Chinook salmon in a creek near Petersburg as part of the Rainforest Festival. (Photo by Angela Denning)But just today’s information alone has taught Arian Pregenzer a lot about salmon. She’s visiting the Rainforest Festival from New Mexico.“Any little thing– you can ask question–and they’re telling you stuff and so your mind starts generating more questions,” Pregenzer said.Petersburg resident Lori Dial says she’s learned a lot too.“The most amazing thing about salmon is how they can find their way back,” Dial said.“The olfactory map,” Pregenzer chimes in.“Yeah, they smell,” Dial said. “But you know, I couldn’t find my way back based on that. That’s amazing.”It’s relatively easy to study salmon when they’re spawning here in a creek but it’s much harder when they’re hundreds of miles away in the deep ocean. There’s a real lack of data for that part of their lives. McPhee says a big challenge is the technology to track the fish. Some tagging projects have actually attracted salmon sharks to the fish because of the large batteries they’re carrying. So, really, what could help is a better power source for the tags.“If you could somehow use the energy of the fish-swimming-muscles to somehow recharge something that would maybe work,” McPhee said, laughing. “But I’m not an engineer so I’m talking nonsense!”In any case, McPhee says what is definitely needed is an international effort in ocean-going surveys, having a lot of people in a lot of places working on the same goal. To find out what does happen to the salmon out there. And then they can share that knowledge with the public in a festival like this.The Rainforest Festival was held in Petersburg September 6-9