Previewing the Rest of the Trials: Part 1

An epic hammer throw competition started off the 2012 US Olympic Trials off on the right foot, but we still have more than a week of action ahead of us including the shot put, discus, and javelin throws. As the hammer throw competition showed, there will be drama even in events where the Olympic team is all but set already. Overall, the throwing events feature a mixture of known stars in established events and young guns trying to resurrect dormant events. Throwers rarely get a chance at the spotlight, so expect a week of surprises as they fight for a little glory. Below is a quick preview of the events that will have finals in the coming days. Check back next week for previews of the remaining events.

Women’s Discus Throw

Qualifying – 2:20pm on Friday, 22 June 2012 (Results)
Finals – 3:05pm on Sunday, 24 June 2012 (Start list)

Aretha Thurmond is looking to make her fourth Olympic team (photo by Paul Merca)

The throwing action already kicked off on Friday with the preliminary round of the women’s discus, with the final to take place today. This event features some of the most experienced athletes at the Trials. In fact, two of the throwers in contention made the team way back in 1996. Aretha Thurmond will be looking for her fourth Olympic team and she has made every US team since 2003 with the exception of the 2007 World teams. I’ll give her a pass on that one since she still placed sixth at nationals just two weeks after giving birth to her son. She’s also supported in part by the Evergreen Athletic Fund, so she’s my hope to win. Former US record holder Suzy Powell joined Thurmond on the 1996 team and is also looking for her third team, but has had some injury problems since 2008 and is not as dominant as she once was. But you cannot ignore the elephant in the room here: Stephanie Brown-Trafton is the defending Olympic Champion and just set a new US record this spring. She IS the favorite, with Aretha looking strong for second place which is exactly how they placed in Friday’s qualifying round. Powell will have to battle with Gia Lewis-Smallwood for the final spot and Smallwood holds a 3-1 record in head-to-head matchups against Powell this year. In the discus, where wind can play a big role in distances, head-to-head matchups matter even more. Powell also still needs to get the “A” standard of 62 meters. Another name to watch out for is Shelbi Vaughan. The 17-year old just set a new national high school record last week and showed it was not a fluke by placing fourth in rain-soaked qualifying round. She does not have the Olympic standard, but looks to put herself into the equation for the final. A medal looks unlikely in London for the US, but it looked even less likely four years ago until Trafton came out of nowhere for the win.

Men’s Shot Put

Qualifying – 3:00pm on Saturday, 23 June 2012 (Results)
Finals – 3:30pm on Sunday, 24 June 2012 (Start list)

Christian Cantwell and Reese Hoffa headline the men’s shot put.

The big event to watch is the men’s shot put. Four of the top five throwers in the world are from America, and they will be battling it out for the coveted three spots on the Olympic team. The winner will automatically become a gold medal favorite and the US has won a medal at every Olympics since the boycotted 1980 Games. The competition is even more interesting due to the depth of the fiel (12 throwers have the Olympic “A” standard) and the unknown factors like the weather. Already notable thrower Adam Nelson, a two-time silver medalist and currently ranked fourth in the world, wasn’t able to make the finals due to a combination of injuries and hard rain during the preliminary round. The remaining favorites to make the Olympic team can be boiled down to Resse Hoffa, Christian Cantwell, and Ryan Whiting. World leader Hoffa has just been consistent and I would be very surprised for him to miss out. World indoor champion Whiting also has shown consistency this year and that will be what it takes to make the team. Cantwell has the second best mark in the world and would also seem to be assured a spot, but has not been over 21 meters in his last three meets. Just last weekend he threw 20.36 meters in Canada, which won’t be enough to make the team this week. A slip up by any one of these throwers could give an unexpected spot to a newcomer. Kurt Roberts is the next highest seed, but I could see individuals like Cory Martin or even NCAA champion Jordan Clarke position themselves well for an upset.

Men’s Javelin Throw

Qualifying – 12:30pm on Saturday, 23 June 2012 (Results)
Finals – 6:00pm on Monday, 25 June 2012 (Start list)

Cyrus Hostetler is a fan favorite in Eugene.

You might mistake the entry list in the first two events for the 2004 or 2008 trials, but that definitely won’t be the case in the javelin, where young talent is bursting up across the country. While exactly three men have the “A” standard now, another three throwers are within one meter of it and have a chance of getting it at the Trials. Hometown favorite and UO grad Cyrus Hostetler threw the mark to take silver at the 2011 Pan Am Games, and both Sean Furey and Craig Kinsley just reached it this month. After watching Hostetler at the Pre Classic, he looked comfortable at home and will be the man to beat. Then I’ll be keeping my eye on two-time NCAA champ Tim Glover who always seems capable of the unexpected and led the qualifying round. Sean Furey and Corey White should also be in a tight race for an Olympic team birth and reaching the “A” standard. And, as with the women’s discus, a high school star has made the finals. Sean Keller from nearby Vancouver, Washington finished an impressive fifth in Saturday’s qualifying round. His new personal best of 77.12 meters is the second best mark ever from a high schooler.

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  1. […] Over the weekend the men’s shot putters, women’s discus throwers, and javelin guys continued the momentum started in the hammer throw. Reese Hoffa threw a world leading mark to win the shot put. While the […]

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