A decade ago America women’s throwing was struggling. At the 2005 World Championships only one woman (Erin Gilreath) made a final. She placed ninth. America was only able to send two shot putters and one javelin thrower. But ten years later the picture is completely different. In the women’s shot put, for example, thirteen athletes have the world championships qualifying standard this year. In each and every event America not only has potential finalists, but medalists. What used to be one of the weak sports of American track and field has now become a strength. With the US Championships starting in one week it will be a great chance to showcase some of these new stars and the added depth across the country. Below is a bit more about the championship and an in depth look at each event. Check back this weekend we’ll also provide coverage of the men’s throwing events.
Women’s Shot Put
Favorite: Michelle Carter
Defending Champion: Michelle Carter
Other Contenders: Tia Brooks, Raven Saunders, and many others
Schedule: Thursday, June 25th, 6:35pm PST
As I mentioned in the introduction the women’s shot put used to be one of the weakest throws for America, but the emergence of some international throwers and unprecedented depth have made the U.S. A force not just on the men’s side, but also in the women’s shot put. The main difference between the men and women is that the women have a clear favorite in defending champion Michelle Carter. Carter win the indoor national title and is fresh off a runner-up finish at the Oslo Diamond League meet.
Behind her the field is wide open. Just two feet separate ranks 2 through 10. All have he world championship qualifying standard, so it will be a battle to make he team. Still, a few names stand out. Tia Brooks recently beat Carter at the Birmingham Diamond League meet, handing Carter her first loss to an American since 2012 by my count. After breaking the American junior record and sweeping the NCAA titles as a freshman Raven Saunders is a proven competitor. Brittany Smith broke 19 meters indoors and Felisha Johnson did it last season; both have been strong internationally this spring. Former World Championship medalist Jill Camarena-Williams is back from maternity leave and trying to regain her form. You can never count her out and hopefully she can put aside the drama with her coach from last month.
And the list goes on. Nearly everyone has a reason why they are favorites to make the team. It will surely be one of the most interesting competitions at the meet.
|2015 US Shot Put Top 10|
|19.20||63-0||Michelle Carter (Nike/NYAC)||USATF Ind|
|18.96||62-2½||Brittany Smith (Nike)||Titan|
|18.89||61-11¾||Dani Bunch (Unattached)||Tucson Elite|
|18.73||61-5½||Felisha Johnson (Nike)||Beijing WC|
|18.72||61-5||Tia Brooks (Nik)||Triton Invite|
|18.67||61-3||Jeneva Stevens (NYAC)||Indiana Relays|
|18.50||60-8½||Jillian Camarena-Williams (NYAC)||Triton Invite|
|18.49||60-8||-Tori Bliss (LSU)||LSU Invite|
|18.35||60-2½||Raven Saunders (So Illinois)||NCAA Indoors|
|18.21||59-9||Becky O’Brien (Unattached)||USATF Indoors|
Women’s Discus Throw
Favorite: Gia Smallwood-Lewis
Defending Champion: Gia Smallwood-Lewis
Other Contenders: Whitney Ashley, Shelbi Vaughan
Schedule: Saturday, June 27th, 12:45pm PST
Gia Smallwood-Lewis made a name for herself last season. Not only did she break the American record, but she challenged (and beaten) Sandra Perkovic, perhaps the most dominant athlete in track and field currently. She has yet to impress as much this spring, but has been warming up recently in Europe. And while she is not the national leader, she also normally skips the traditional wind meets and opts to facer tougher competition abroad. She also came out on top against her top American rivals at the New York Diamond League meet last weekend. Other than an abysmal showing in California this April and at the same meet in 2013, she hasn’t lost to an American since 2012.
Two younger throwers, however, are emerging to provide a strong challenge. Whitney Ashley leads the nation with a personal best this month in her first year as a pro. Other than a loss to Smallwood-Lewis in New York, she is also undefeated against Americans this year. Shelbi Vaughan is the current NCAA champion and over 64 meters too. Veterans Liz Podominick and Summer Pierson will also be in the mix.
|2015 US Discus Top 10|
|64.80||212-7||Whitney Ashley (Nike)||Claremont|
|64.52||211-8||*Shelbi Vaughan (Texas A&M)||SEC Champs|
|63.87||209-6||Liz Podominick (NAI)||Claremont|
|62.99||206-8||Gia Lewis-Smallwood (Nike)||Rome DL|
|61.23||200-10||Summer Pierson (Unattached)||Claremont|
|61.21||200-10||Jessica Maroszek (Unattached)||Spring Open|
|59.92||196-7||Kiah Hicks (Colorado State)||Mtn West Champs|
|59.91||196-6||Kelsey Card (Wisconsin)||NCAA West|
|59.12||193-11||Tera Novy (USC)||CSLA Twilight|
|59.06||193-9||Katelyn Daniels (Michigan State)||Big 10 Champs|
Women’s Hammer Throw
Favorites: Gwen Berry, Amanda Bingson, Amber Campbell, Jeneva Stevens
Defending Champion: Amanda Bingson
Other Contenders: Britney Henry, Deanna Price
Schedule: Saturday, June 27th, 12:15pm PST
The most wide open event is the women’s hammer throw. American record holder Amanda Bingson hasn’t found her stride yet this spring and finds herself ranked just fifth in the country but is two-time defending champion and always in form for the US Championships. Amber Campbell is just off her personal best form, but has competed little and finished between Gwen Berry and Bingson in her one international competition. Berry has competed well internationally, but her training partner Jeneva Stevens has competed the best at home, finishing as the top American at both Mt. SAC and Tucson. Yet another thrower from the group Deanna Price just walked away with a surprise win at the NCAA meet last week. Plus Britney Henry is also back in the mix with her best throw since 2010 this spring. Like I said, it is a wide open event.
|2015 US Hammer Top 10|
|72.81||238-10||Amber Campbell (Nike)||Shamrock Invite|
|72.69||238-6||Jeneva Stevens (NYAC)||Tucson Elite|
|72.26||237-1||Gwen Berry (NYAC)||Beijing WC|
|71.49||234-6||Deanna Price (So Illinois)||NCAA Champs|
|71.08||233-2||Britney Henry (Oiselle)||Mt. SAC Relays|
|70.94||232-9||Amanda Bingson (Nike/NYAC)||Ostrava WC|
|69.72||228-9||-Brooke Pleger (BG)||MAC Champs|
|69.47||227-11||Jessica Ramsey (Unattached)||Tucson Elite|
|68.50||224-9||Aubrey Baxter (Unattached)||Seward|
|68.45||224-7||Kristin Smith (Chula Vista Elite)||Tucson Elite|
Women’s Javelin Throw
Leading the way in the javelin is Kara Winger. Winger looked like a potential medalist in 2010 after a string of four top-two Diamond League finishes. But a string of injuries set her back. She climbed back to win USAs last year and this year has fully found her form, coming within inches of her American record, ranking third in the world, and competing very well internationally.
Winger’s only challenger will be Brittany Borman, who improved her best out over 64 meters this year, an improvement of more than two and a half meters. She also has a history of good performances at USAs, finished second last year after winning in 2012 and 2013. Young NCAA throwers Hannah Carson and Elizabeth Herrs will be aiming for third along with post collegiate Ariana Ince. However they will need to break 61 meters to make the World Championship team as no one beside Winger and Borman have beat the mark so far in 2015.
|2015 US Javelin Top 10|
|66.47||218-1||Kara Winger (Asics)||Longhorn Inv|
|64.75||212-5||Brittany Borman (Nike)||Kawasaki|
|59.84||196-4||Ariana Ince (Unattached)||Mt. SAC Relays|
|57.77||189-6||Elizabeth Herrs (Oklahoma)||Jacobs Invitational|
|57.72||189-4||Hannah Carson (Texas Tech)||NCAA West|
|57.64||189-1||Karlee McQuillen (Unattached)||Florida Relays|
|56.60||185-8||Madison Wiltrout (Penn HS)||North Hunterdon|
|56.48||185-4||Leigh Petranoff (ThrowZ)||Melbourne WC|
|56.15||184-2||Sarah Firestone (Nebraska)||Big 10 Champs|
|56.01||183-9||Fawn Miller (Florida)||LSU Invite|