Florence’s Thompson wins NACAC U23 Title with big 260-foot throw!

20160704_gma_al2_103Florence’s Curtis Thompson, denied an Olympic berth in the javelin because of some archaic and ill-conceived regulations, traveled far south of the U.S. nonetheless and made it a successful trip.

Thompson, second in the U.S. Olympic Trials, won the javelin at the NACAC Under-23 Championships this weekend in El Salvador. He threw 260-1, winning by exactly a foot over second-place David Carreon of Mexico, who threw 250-1.

Thompson, the NCAA champion for Mississippi State, fell four feet shy of the meet record of 264-1, set in Santo Domingo in 2006 by American Chris Hill.

Thompson had the three best throws of the competition, and his winning throw of 260-1 is the third-best throw of his life.

He opened with a 238-3 but followed with throws of 260-1, 253-11, foul, 241-10 and 252-10.

Thompson’s 271-11 at the Olympic Trials is No. 33 in the world this year and No. 17 in U.S. history.

Yet he won’t represent the U.S. at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro because he fell five inches shy of the IAAF’s Olympic qualifying standard of 272-4.

This was actually the most consistent series of Thompson’s career. He’s never previously had three throws over 250 feet in the same meet. He actually posted three of his top-seven career throws at Estadio Nacional Jorge “El Magic” Gonzalez in San Salvador on Saturday.

Let’s look at Thompson’s top 10 career throws so far:

271-11 … U.S. Olympic Trials, Eugene, Ore., July 4, 2016
265-10 … Florida State Relays, Tallahassee, Fla., March 25, 2016
260- 1 … NACAC U23, San Salvadore, July 16, 2016
254- 9 … NCAAs, Eugene, Ore., June 10, 2016
253-11 … NACAC U23, San Salvadore, July 16, 2016
253- 1 … U.S. Olympic Trials, Eugene, July 4, 2016
252-10 … NACAC U23, San Salvadore, July 16, 2016
251- 7 … Mississippi State Invite, Starkville, Miss., April 30, 2016
249-10 … U.S. Olympic Trials semis, Eugene, July 3, 2016
249- 0 … Florida Relays, Gainesville, March 31, 2016

The NACAC is the North America, Central America and Caribbean Track and Field Coaches Association, and this week’s meet is the championships for athletes from those areas who are under 23 years old.

Thompson, after Olympic near-miss, eyes NACAC Under-23 javelin title

VFJAIVANBAJAKMN.20160326000324Florence native Curtis Thompson, who came within five inches of becoming an Olympian in the javelin, isn’t done yet.

Thompson, who broke the U.S. Olympic Trials record last week in Eugene but still fell short of the Olympic standard, will throw Saturday in the NACAC Under-23 Championships in El Salvador.

The NACAC is the North America, Central America and Caribbean Track and Field Coaches Association, and this week’s meet is the championships for athletes from those areas who are under 23 years old.

The meet will be held in Estadio Nacional Jorge “El Magic” Gonzalez in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Thompson, a Florence High School graduate, is the NCAA champ, runner-up at nationals, all-time No. 17 in U.S. history and No. 33 in the world. Yet because he threw 271-11 and not 272-4, he was kept off the U.S. team traveling to Rio for the Olympics.

The rules are so archaic and complicated that even Sports Illustrated, assuming that the runner-up in the Olympic Trials would be an Olympian, listed Thompson as an Olympian. But he’s not. So he’ll head to El Salvador and shoot for a different title.

Thompson, 20, is the top seed in the javelin with his 271-11, followed by Canadian Evan Karakolis, who has thrown 260-2 and was fifth at NCAAs this past spring competing for Rice.

The meet record in the javelin is 264-1, set by former U.S. and NCAA champ Chris Hill in the 2006 meet in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The only other New Jerseyan who appears in the NACAC U23 heat sheets appears to be Olivia Baker, the former Columbia middle-distance star who will run the 800. Baker, the NCAA runner-up for Stanford this past spring, reached the semifinals at the Olympic Trials, missing the finals by less than half a second, and has a PR of 2:01.02.

The meet record in the women’s 800 is 2:03.00, set in Kamloops, B.C., two years ago by American Shelby Houlihan.

16-year-old Sydney McLaughlin does the unthinkable – runs world junior record & makes the U.S. Olympic team!!!

step0001-10It may have looked easy. According to Sydney McLaughlin, it wasn’t easy.

Not at all.

After becoming the youngest U.S. track Olympian in 48 years, McLaughlin revealed that she faced a real crisis of confidence during her week at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene.

“I think the first day was definitely the hardest — coming up here, just the Trials, coming up here for the first time and running on this track, in this type of competition,” she said.

“As the rounds went on it definitely got easier to manage the nerves and get used to the field, but it’s a lot of mental preparation, and just keeping the negative thoughts out and trusting in the ability of what you’ve done so far. My coach had a lot to do with that.

“I had a mental breakdown my first day, and without them I wouldn’t have stepped on the line.”

McLaughlin, 16 and a rising senior at Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains, Union County, turned in one of the most remarkable performances in U.S. track history Sunday when she made the U.S. Olympic team in the 400-meter hurdles a few weeks before her 17th birthday.

McLaughlin placed third in 54.14, breaking the world junior record and her own high school national record.

She didn’t just overcome some of the greatest intermediate hurdlers in the country, she overcame nagging self-doubt that’s understandable for any 16-year-old in this environment.

“It was me doubting everything I’d done so far this season, not understanding that I’ve worked to get where I am and that I deserved to be here,” she said.

“And just thinking, ‘I’m 16 and these girls are all professionals.’ I definitely had a moment where I didn’t think I could do it, and they told me ‘You’re getting on the line and running this race,’ that put me where I am today.”

Delilah Muhammad won the race in 52.88, a U.S. Olympic Trials record and the No. 14 time in world history. Ashley Spencer was second in 54.02, with McLaughlin a step behind her.

Muhammad, asked what she was doing when she was 16, said this: “I was a junior in high school. I just won world youth that year, but I ran 57 seconds, not 54.”

McLaughlin’s reaction time to the gun was .371 compared to Spencer’s .228, so McLaughlin was actually second-fastest from line to line.

“She is a beast,” said former NCAA and U.S. champion Kori Carter, who finished fourth in 54.47. “She’s the truth. I was in every single heat with her and she carries herself like a pro and I know she will represent the USA amazingly.

Asked what she was thinking about during the race, McLaughlin was typically funny.

“’I can’t believe this is happening right now,'” McLaughlin said. “I just get this out of the way. It’s been a very long year, and the Trials is stressful. My mind was on finishing the race and eating a cheeseburger.”

The previous youngest American to make the team in the 400 intermediates was Lashinda Demus, who was 21 years old when she made the team in 2004.

McLaughlin is five years younger.

The last 16-year-old to make the team in any event was Rhonda Brady in the high hurdles in 1976, but she was 21 years old and 347 days. McLaughlin is 16 years old and 337 days.

That makes McLaughlin the youngest U.S. track Olympian since high jumper Sharon Callahan in 1968. Callahan was 16 years old, 153 days, when she won the Trials at 5-7 1/4 – a height that wouldn’t win a major high school meet these days.

“Just hearing the word Olympics was a dream in the back of my mind,” McLaughlin said. “I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going to the Trials.’

“But it’s not going to happen. It was never really on my radar, until ran 54. My season started off really rough with some injuries and some personal issues. It wasn’t looking good. But every Olympic athlete has two or three major struggles their Olympic year, and I definitely faced mine.”

McLaughlin’s time is No. 4 in the world this year and makes her the 11th-fastest performer in Olympic Trials history. Her time is second-fastest ever by a third-place finisher at the Trials:

52.88 … Delilah Muhammad, 2016 [1]
52.95 … Sheena Johnson, 2004 [1]
53.33 … Sandra Glover, 2000 [1]
53.36 … Brenda Taylor, 2004 [2]
53.43 … Lashinda Demus, 2004 [3]
53.62 … Sandra Farmer-Patrick, 1992 [1]
53.81 … Kim Batten, 1996 [1]
53.92 … Tonja Buford-Bailey, 1992 [2]
54.02 … Ashley Spencer, 2016 [2]
54.03 … Tiffany Ross-Williams, 2008 [1]
54.15 … Sydney McLaughlin, 2016 [3]
54.16 … Raisin McIntosh, 2004 [5]
54.33 … Georgeanne Moline, 2012 [2]
54.42 … Shauna Smith, 2004 [6]
54.47 … Kori Carter, 2016 [4]
54.60 … Queen Harrison, 2008 [2]
54.60 … Cassandra Tate, 2016 [5]
54.62 … Sheena Tosta, 2008 [3]
54.65 … Autumne Franklin, 2016 [6]
54.80 … Janeene Vickers, 1992 [3]
54.81 … T’Erea Brown, 2012 [3]

“This has to be the icing on the cake,” she said. “Regardless of what happens in Rio, I made it here and I’m just so thankful for all of that.”

McLaughlin’s dad, Willie, ran 20.9 for 200 meters for East Orange High in 1981. Some 25 years later, his daughter began her track career.

“It was AAU track,” she said. “I was 6 years old, and my dad said that if I won I would get a chocolate bar with almonds. So I won the race and I got a chocolate bar, and ever since I kept running so I could get chocolate bars.”


Pleasantville grad Nia Ali makes U.S. Olympic team in high hurdles!!!!!

adb85a8c-d449-4a9c-ad17-abeec29ffc95.jpgNia Ali, a former Meet of Champions winner at Pleasantville High School and two-time world indoor champion, placed third in the 100-meter hurdles final Friday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials to lock up a berth on the U.S. Olympic team.

Ali ran a season-best 12.55, finishing 2-100ths of a second ahead of Queen Harrison to secure the third and final berth.

Ali ran 12.68 in the trials on Thursday and 12.68 again earlier Friday in the semifinals.

Here are the official results of the championship race:


Ali is the first graduate of an Atlantic County high school to make a U.S. Olympic track and field team.

Four years ago, Ali reached the Olympic Trials final but finished last. On Friday, she ran the fastest third-place time in U.S. Trials history and became the eighth-fastest performer in meet history.

The race, the fastest in trials history, produced the second-fastest winning time ever and the fastest wind-legal times ever for second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh place.

Here’s an updated all-time Olympic Trials performance list:

12.33 … Gail Devers, 2000 [1]
12.34 … Brianna Rollins, 2016 [1]
12.45 … Lolo Jones, 2008 [s]
12.48 … Damu Cherry, 2008 [s]
12.50 … Kristi Castlin, 2016 [2]
12.54 … Nichole Denby, 2008 [s]
12.55 … Joanna Hayes, 2004 [2]
12.55 … Nia Ali, 2016 [3]
12.57 … Melissa Morrison, 2000 [s]
12.57 … Queen Harrison, 2016 [4]
12.58 … Kellie Wells, 2008 [s]
12.58 … Dawn Harper, 2008 [1]
12.60 … Sharika Nelvis, 2016 [5],
12.62 … Danielle Carruthers, 2004 [4]
12.62 … Keni Harrison, 2016 [6]
12.68 … Sharon Jewell, 2000 [s]
12.69 … Lynda Goode, 1996 [2]
12.71 … LaVonna Martin, 1992 [2]
12.74 … Jenny Adams, 2004 [5]
12.75 … Ginnie Powell, 2008 [s]
12.75 … Jackie Coward, 2016 [7]

Ali is the first New Jersey woman to make an Olympic team in the high hurdles. Neptune’s Dawn Bowles came very close in 1996, placing fourth in the final. She was also seventh in 1992.


Pleasantville’s Nia Ali hurdles into Olympic Trials hurdles finals!

Pleasantville High graduate Nia Ali, a two-time world champion indoors, easily advanced to the finals of the 100-meter hurdles Friday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Ali, who ran 12.68 in the trials, ran another 12.68 in the semis, placing second in the first of four races behind Brianna Rollins, who ran 12.60.

Rollins and Ali go into the finals with the two-fastest times. The only other hurdlers under 12.80 were Kristi Castlin (12.77) and Queen Harrison (12.78)

The top two in each of three semis, plus the next two fastest times, advanced to the eight-person final.

Ali’s 12.68, run during a steady rain, matches her season-best and is No. 8 in the world. Her PR is 12.48 from 2013.

The finals are scheduled for 8:54 p.m. Friday.

Ali, a Philadelphia native, began her high school career at West Catholic.

Willingboro’s Williams flies through to 110 hurdles semis at U.S. Trials

10090877.jpegWillingboro High School graduate Issac Williams ran 13.63 to easily advance to the semifinals of the 110-meter hurdles Friday evening at the U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Williams’ time was fifth-fastest of 29 entries.

The top three in each of four heats plus the next six-fastest in the first round advanced to the semis. Williams placed second in the first heat behind Jason Richardson.

Williams, a former Meet of Champions hurdles winner at Willingboro, is having the best season of his life and PR’d at 13.43 in April at the Mt. SAC relays in Norwalk, Calif. He currently is the 10th-ranked American hurdler.

The semifinals are scheduled for 7:25 p.m. Saturday and the finals are set for 8:52 p.m.

Williams recently completed his eligibility at Houston, where he was a second-team All-America hurdler.


Nia Ali easily advances to Olympic Trials semis in high hurdles

2010+USA+Outdoor+Track+Field+Championships+5eVfrgrlFlSlPleasantville High graduate Nia Ali, twice the world indoor champion, easily advanced in the 100-meter hurdles Thursday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials, recording a 12.68 auto qualifier at Hayward Field in Eugene.

Ali raced in the third of five heats, with 21 advancing – the top three in each heat and the next six fastest.

She finished second in her heat behind Jasmin Stowers, who ran 12.65. Ali’s time is fourth-fastest overall heading into Friday’s semifinals.

Ali’s 12.68 is actually a season-best. She hasn’t raced much this summer. Her PR is 12.48 from 2013.

Her time, achieved with a legal wind of 0.9 meters per second, puts Ali No. 8 in the world according to the latest IAAF rankings.

The semifinals are scheduled for 6:58 p.m. Friday, with the finals at 8:54 p.m.

Ali, a Philadelphia native, began her high school career at West Catholic.

Haddonfield’s Hall, already an Olympian, advances to 5,000 final at U.S. Trials

Marielle Hall, who has already made the U.S. Olympic team in the 10,000, placed third Thursday evening in the 5,000 with an auto qualifier 15:27.67.

There were two semifinal races, with the first six finishers advancing to the final along with the next four-fastest times.

The 10-fastest times came out of the second semifinal. Hall was a comfortable fifth, advancing comfortably on the Hayward Field track in Eugene, Ore.

Hall, a Haddonfield native who went on to earn All-America honors at Texas, will be back on the track at 7:28 p.m. EST Sunday night in the championship race.

Hall’s 5,000 PR is 15:06.45, set at Hayward Field last year.

On Thursday, Hall ran mid-pack through 3,000 meters, averaging 75.6 per lap before picking things up with laps of 74.5, 73.2, 73.2, 73.2 through 4,600 meters – a 4:50.1 mile – and then closing with a 66.5 final lap.

The top five finishers in the second semifinal all ran between 15:26.33 and 15:27.67 and all closed in 65.4 through 68.1.

Kim Conley won the first semifinal in 15:40.04, which would have placed 11th in the second race.

Erin Donohue, denied in the 800, advances in 1,500 at Olympic Trials!

Erin Donohue, a 2008 Olympian, got another chance to race in Eugene and made the most of it.

Donohue, eliminated in the first round of the 800 and not expected to get a lane in the 1,500, was the beneficiary of enough scratches that she was among the 30 women who formed the field for Thursday’s first round.

Donohue, a Haddonfield High School graduate, ran 4:14.37, the sixth-fastest time in Thursday’s three first-round races. She was sixth overall also, since the first race produced the seven fastest times of the competition.

The first seven finishers in that first heat all ran between 4:13.82 and 4:14.40. That’s about half a second separating seven runners.

The first round eliminated just three of the 30 women in the field. There were three scratches, leaving 27 women racing, and 24 advanced to the semifinals — the top six in each of three heats and the next six-fastest times.

Everybody that ran 4:24 or better moved on.

Donohue, a former All-America at North Carolina, has a season-best of 4:11 and a career-best of 4:03.49, set in Rieti, Italy, on Aug. 29, 2010. That’s No. 25 in U.S. history.

The 1,500 semifinals are scheduled for 8:03 p.m. Friday, with the finals at 8 p.m. on Sunday.

Jessica Woodard uncorks final-throw bomb to reach Olympic Trials finals!

13592398_533173476866123_7057153199497323374_n.jpgFacing her final throw of the U.S. Olympic Trials, Jessica Woodard sat in 13th place and had to leapfrog four throwers to reach the finals.

A tall order. Especially considering that she was facing only the top American shot putters.

Woodard had thrown 55-10 1/2 and 56-3 1/4 but needed to throw at least 58-1 — within seven inches of her PR — to become one of the nine throwers to advance to the finals.

So the former Cherokee star threw 58-2 1/2.

With that final-throw bomb, Woodard leap-frogged Monique Riddick (56-8 3/4), Kearsten Peoples (57-0), Dani Bunch (57-0) and Christina Hillman (58-0 1/2) to reach the finals of the U.S. Olympic Trials shot put, scheduled for 9:15 p.m. EST at legendary Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene.

Woodard, who placed third in the shot put at the NCAA Championships for Oklahoma, is one of only two college throwers in the finals. The other is NCAA champ Raven Saunders of Mississippi.

Here are the finalists:

62-6 1/2 … Tia Brooks [Nike]
62-1 1/4 … Jill Camarena-Williams [Nike/NYAC]
60-5 3/4 … Raven Saunders [Mississippi]
59-4 3/4 … Chase Ealey [unattached]
58-9 3/4 … Brittany Smith [Nike]
58-8 3/4 … Felisha Johnson [Nike]
58-7 1/4 … Michelle Carter [Nike/NYAC]
58-4 1/2 … Jeneva Stevens [NYAC]
58-2 1/2 … Jessica Woodard [Oklahoma]