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It’s less than a week until the US Championships begin in Sacramento. With no world championship to qualify for this year, some big names might be missing from other events. But for throwers it is business as usual. All of the top American throwers will be there. Even without a spot on Team USA up for grabs, they will be fighting for bragging rights, bonuses, and personal bests.
USATF will be streaming the meet online for free. You can watch it live online here.
Women’s Shot Put
Favorite: Michelle Carter
Defending Champion: Michelle Carter
Other Contenders: None
Schedule: Qualifying at 10:00am on Wednesday, June 25th; finals at 4:30pm on Wednesday, June 25th
The women’s shot put will be the first event at the US championships. Held on the steps of the California state capitol building, it will also be one of the meet’s featured events. The big name here is Michelle Carter. Carter placed fifth at this year’s World Indoor Championships, fourth at the outdoor World Championships last year, and is the only person to have given Valerie Adams a scare recently with a close second place finish at the recent New York Diamond League meeting. She has not lost to an American since the 2012 Olympic Trials and that is unlikely to change next week since her normal rival, Jill Camarena-Williams, is out for the season on maternity leave.
But the fight for the podium will still be tough. Felisha Johnson, Brittany Smith, and Tia Brooks are packed together after Carter in the rankings. Brooks and Johnson have split a pair of meetings this outdoor season. Smith has not faced her rivals this year, but did get a big mark to win in Tucson last month. World Championships competitor Jeneva McCall also hasn’t found her shot put form yet outdoors, but is a factor having thrown over 19 meters last year.
Favorite: Kara Patterson
Defending Champion: Brittany Borman
Other Contenders: Fawn Miller, Leigh Petranoff, Ariana Ince
Schedule: 6:00pm on Thursday, June 26th
Women’s Hammer Throw
Favorite: Amanda Bingson
Defending Champion: Amanda Bingson
Other Contenders: Jessica Cosby, Amber Campbell, Gwen Berry, Jeneva McCall
Schedule: 11:00am on Saturday, June 28th
After setting her American record of 75.73 meters at last year’s US Championships, Amanda Bingson has emerged as the front of a pack of strong American hammer throwers. So far this year she has again thrown an impressive 75.12 meters. But while she is the favorite, her victory is far from secure. Five women have broken 73 meters last year and all are in contention. Jeneva McCall showed great promise at the end of last season, but along with training partner Gwen Berry has not been quite as sharp in 2014. Jessica Cosby, on the other hand, just barely missed making the World Championships team last year and has returned this year with a personal best of 74.20 meters. She enters the meet with the second best mark of the group. Amber Campbell has also had a very consistent season. If I had to bet I would say it is Bingson, Cosby, and Campbell, but this will be so close only a stupid man would actually lay money down.
Favorite: Gia Lewis-Smallwood
Defending Champion: Gia Lewis-Smallwood
Other Contenders: Whitney Ashley, Shelbi Vaughan
Schedule: 11:45am on Sunday, June 29th
Experience matters in the discus. After years stuck at a national level, Gia Lewis-Smallwood finally rose to the international level a few years ago. Last season she placed fifth at the World Championships and this year she has continued her strong streak at the age of 35 with a throw podium finishes at the last two Diamond League meets and a season’s best of 65.77 meters. As with the shot put, the defending champion might not have much competition here.
2012 NCAA discus champion Whitney Ashley has come of age this year by breaking throwing over her old personal best five times so far this year. In 11 competitions she has only lost to another American twice. Another thrower having a breakthrough year is high school record holder Shelbi Vaughan. After making the Olympic Trials finals as a high schooler, she struggled in her first year as a two-sport athlete for Texas A&M. But this year she added more than three meters to her best and captured the NCAA title. Having faced the top professional throwers little this year, she is a big wildcard. Another six throwers have season’s bests over 59 meters, meaning that even a slight improvement by any one of them will push them onto the podium.