Hermosa Beach is less than 20 miles from the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles. So it may be no surprise that the first event in the inaugural Team USA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast, turned into yet another celebration party for USC athletes.
One week after winning an NCAA women’s beach volleyball championship for USC, Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes defeated Trojans teammates Nicolette Martin and Terese Cannon in the women’s final of the USA Volleyball Collegiate Beach Championships on Saturday in Hermosa Beach. Lucas Yoder of USC and Michael Saeta of UC Irvine, playing together for the first time, won the men’s championship against UCLA’s Jackson Bantle and Hagen Smith.
The tournament, featuring athletes from 23 schools nationwide, kicked off the Team USA Summer Champions Series in a big way.
“It was really a cool tournament for us,” Saeta told TeamUSA.org. “The venue is awesome, NBC was awesome and it was just really cool.”
And it was just the start.
The Summer Champions Series continues in June with track and field’s USATF Outdoor Championships in Sacramento, California, and swimming’s Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships in Indianapolis. The USA Diving National Championships in July and August in Columbus, Ohio, is the final event.
Both the track championships and the swimming championships will determine the U.S. world championships teams, and the beach volleyball championships earned the winners spots on the USA Volleyball collegiate national team.
The Summer Champions Series comes after the inaugural Team USA Winter Champions Series, which in December featured a Team USA vs. Canada women’s ice hockey game in Michigan, a luge world cup event in Park City, Utah, and a big air snowboarding grand prix competition in Copper Mountain, Colorado.
The victory in Hermosa Beach added to the championship list for Claes and Hughes, who may be on a path toward the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. They won back-to-back NCAA and Pac-12 championships, and also won last year’s World University Championships in Estonia.
Here is a look at the upcoming events in the Team USA Summer Champions Series:
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Track and Field
The event: USATF Outdoor Championships
When: June 22-25
Where: Hornet Stadium, Sacramento, California
Storyline: Hundreds of the nation’s best track and field athletes will be in Sacramento to compete for national titles and spots on the USATF roster for the IAAF World Championships in London. The top three finishers with the qualifying standards in each event clinch spots on the world championships team. The four-day event is being hosted by the facility that also hosted the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in 2000 and 2004.
Athletes to watch: The national championships field is expected to be stacked with Olympic medalists from Rio, including Allyson Felix, Matthew Centrowitz, Natasha Hastings, Michelle Carter, Kerron Clement, Jeff Henderson, LaShawn Merritt, Christian Taylor and more.
TV: June 24-25, 4-6 p.m. EST, NBC; June 23, 10:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. EST, NBC Sports Network; all additional coverage of the USATF Outdoor Championships will be available on NBC Sports Gold.
The event: Phillips 66 National Championships
When: June 27-July 1
Where: Indiana University Natatorium, Indianapolis, Indiana
Storyline: In addition to deciding national titles, the meet is the trials event for the FINA World Championships. Approximately 500 swimmers are expected, including a large number of Olympians.
Athletes to watch: Begin with Katie Ledecky, a five-time Olympic champion who is the world’s best in the women’s 200-, 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle. The meet will be stacked with Olympians, including gold medalists Nathan Adrian, Kevin Cordes, Anthony Ervin, Simone Manuel, Ryan Murphy, Tom Shields and Kelsi Worrell.
TV: July 1-2, 1-3 p.m. EST, NBC; June 27-28, 7-8 p.m. EST, NBCSN; June 29-July 1, 6-8 p.m. EST, Universal HD
The event: USA Diving National Championships
When: July 29-Aug. 12
Where: McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, Columbus, Ohio
Storyline: The national championships will be a homecoming for a number of Team USA divers since the nationals follow up the world championships in July in Budapest, Hungary.
Athletes to watch: Those in the men’s competition could include Olympic medalists Sam Dorman, Michael Hixon, Kristian Ipsen and Steele Johnson. Women’s competition is likely to include 2016 Olympians Kassidy Cook, Abby Johnston, Amy (Cozad) Magaña, Jessica Parratto and Katrina Young.
TV: Aug. 11, 9-11 p.m. EST, NBCSN
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1990. He is Olympics editor and Assistant Sports Editor at the Cape Cod Times in Massachusetts. Bowker has written for TeamUSA.org since 2010 as a freelance contributor on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.