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]

USATF must fix flawed Olympic selection process that keeps Curtis Thompson off the U.S. team

20160704_gma_al2_103To really appreciate how absurd it is that Sean Furey is a U.S. Olympian in the javelin and Curtis Thompson isn’t, consider this:

–> Furey makes the Olympic team because he threw the javelin 272-5 on June 6, 2015.

–> Thompson doesn’t make the Olympic team because he threw the javelin only 271-11 on July 4, 2016.

Thompson beat Furey by more than 40 feet in the Olympic Trials javelin, but the Florence native — who broke a 16-year-old Olympic Trials record on Monday – will be watching the Olympics on TV with the rest of us next month while Furey – who admittedly has thrown terrible all year — will be in Rio.

Absolutely absurd.

How on Earth do you break the U.S. Olympic Trials MEET RECORD in the javelin and not qualify for the Olympics?

But that’s exactly what happened to Thompson.

If the goal is to put together the best possible Olympic team, the U.S. is going about this completely the wrong way.

Let’s take a look at the Olympic javelin qualifying and how exactly the U.S. got into the position where it’s sending a guy who hasn’t thrown over 250-2 this year instead of a guy who’s thrown 270 feet:

Generally, the top three finishers in each event at the Trials comprise the Olympic team. Pretty simple.

But in the javelin, things are strange. There is an Olympic qualifying standard in every event, and in most events, there are numerous Americans over the standard, so whoever finishes in the top three at the Trials is assured of a berth on the Olympic team.

But in the javelin, the Olympic standard is very tough to reach. In fact, going into this year’s Olympic Trials, the Olympic standard (272-4) was higher than the Olympic Trials meet record (270-4, set in 2000 by Beaux Greer). Which is ridiculous. It essentially renders the Olympic Trials in the javelin meaningless.

Athletes have about 13 months to meet the standard, which seems generous. But with a young, rapidly improving athlete like Thompson, the early portion of that qualifying period doesn’t match up with when he’s throwing his best.

Compare the cases of Furey and Thompson. Furey qualified on the sixth day of the 13-month window — June 6 of last year. More than 13 months ago. In the finals of the Trials, he didn’t throw within 40 feet of the standard.

But Thompson just keeps improving.

He came into his sophomore year at Mississippi State with a PR of 248-1, from last year’s SEC Championships, then proceeded to throw 265-10 at the Florida State Relays, 254-8 to win the NCAA championships and 271-11 on Monday to break the Trials record (which was later broken by Cyrus Hostetler).

That 271-11 made Thompson the No. 16 thrower in U.S. history but it fell five inches short of the Olympic qualifying standard.

In previous years, Thompson would have had the opportunity to get an Olympic qualifier after the trials. And the way he’s throwing, the way he’s improving every meet, nobody would bet against him.

But the USATF eliminated that rule this year. No more chasing marks. If you don’t have a qualifying standard by the end of your event at the Trials, you aren’t going.

Counting secondary throws in various meets, Thompson has at least 30 throws over 230 feet this year. Probably more like 50. Heck, he had five on Monday alone.

Furey has one.

But because of a long throw 13 months ago, he’s going to Rio instead of Thompson.

The situation is so absurd that even Furey – whose best throw this year is 227-10 – kind of acknowledged that Thompson should be headed to Rio instead of him.

“The rules are the rules,” Furey said. “If I make it to the Olympics, I won’t apologize. I’ll go and try to hammer a throw.

“But I also respect Curtis Thompson, who missed the standard by just 12 centimeters (five inches). If he got the (Olympic invite), he deserved it, and I’d root for him.”

Thompson handled the situation with typical class and grace.

“I thought it was enough, but it was 12 centimeters shy from the standard but that’s OK,” he said. “I came here. I wanted to do my best and that’s what I gave. I gave it my all. To PR is actually great. I love it here. The fans here are really supportive. It just gives you that adrenaline.

“It’s not frustrating. It just means you have to come out and have to throw the standard. I’m not upset about my performance. I’m actually really happy about how I performed.”

The whole idea should be to send the athletes to Rio who have the best chance to excel. The way Thompson is improving, it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s throwing 280 by late August. Compare that to Furey, who didn’t even throw 230 feet in the Trials finals.

Furey has had a terrific career. He’s a three-time national champion and a two-time Pan Am Games finalist. But Thompson is ranked 29th in the WORLD this year. Furey is ranked 129th in the world this year.

If the goal is to adhere to a bunch of archaic rules and regulations, then Furey is the guy.

If the goal is to send the best possible team to the Olympics, then Curtis Thompson should be on that flight to Rio.



Thompson not frustrated, despite missing Olympics by just 5 inches

20160704_gma_al2_103You could understand if Curtis Thompson was frustrated or upset or even angry.

Not only did he uncork one of the best javelin throws in the world this year, not only did he break the U.S. Olympic Trials record, not only did he post the sixth-best mark ever by a collegian, he placed second in the Olympic Trials, the meet that in theory determines the U.S. Olympic team.

Yet when the javelin begins at the Rio Olympics next month, Thompson won’t be there.

A couple rules conspired to work against Thompson, a Florence High School graduate who just finished his sophomore year at Mississippi State.

Thompson, competing in his first Olympic Trials on Monday, opened with a monster throw of 271-11 and led most of the way until Cyrus Hostetler broke a seven-year-old PR with a throw of 273-1 to break Thompson’s meet record and ultimately win the event.

Thompson finished second but still won’t go to Rio because he fell five inches shy of the Olympic qualifying standard of 272-4.

In metric terms, the Olympic standard is 83 meters, and Thompson threw 82.22 meters.

Hold your hand up, and the distance between your thumb and pink is about the distance that kept Thompson from becoming a U.S. Olympian.

“I thought it was enough, but it was 12 centimeters shy from the standard but that’s OK,” a gracious Thompson said. “I came here. I wanted to do my best and that’s what I gave. I gave it my all. To PR is actually great. I love it here. The fans here are really supportive. It just gives you that adrenaline.

“It’s not frustrating. It just means you have to come out and have to throw the standard. I’m not upset about my performance. I’m actually really happy about how I performed today.”

In past years, athletes who finished in the top three at the Trials but missed the standard in their event had a window – usually about two weeks – in which they could chase the standard. USATF, the governing body for track and field in the U.S., has banned that practice this year, which means that Sean Furey – who placed 11th in the Trials with a throw of 227-10, more than 40 feet worse than Thompson’s best throw – will represent the U.S. since he threw 272-6 on June 6, 2015, on the sixth day of the qualifying window.

So Furey gets in based on a  throw more than a year ago despite throwing 40 feet worse than Thompson on Monday.

Thompson’s progress has been remarkable. His high school best at Florence was 224-10 to win the Meet of Champions. Last year, he threw 248-1 at the SEC meet. So he’s improved more than 46 feet in two years and more than 20 feet in the past year.

Here’s a look at his year-by-year progression going back to freshman year at Florence:

2016 271-11 [2nd, U.S. Olympic Trials, Eugene, Ore.]
2015 248-1 [4th, SEC Championships, Starkville, Miss.]
2014 224-10 [1st, Meet of Champions, South Plainfield]
2013 203-5 [3rd, New Balance Nationals, Greensboro, N.C.]
2012 188-9 [1st, Burlington County Open, Maple Shade]
2011 175-7 [3rd, Parochial A States, Old Bridge]

Thompson followed his 271-11 with a 238-5, foul, 236-7, 253-1 and 256-1.

“Getting that throw in the beginning, I was really relaxed,” he said. “I really started to try and go get it and when I started to try too hard that’s when it didn’t go as far.

“It’s just a learning experience for me. When you throw a big one, you just have to find a way to relax and actually continue how you are throwing and not change a thing.”

Thompson is the NCAA champ, runner-up at nationals, all-time No. 17 in U.S. history and top-30 in the world.

But he’s not done yet.

He’ll throw in the NACAC Under-23 Championships in El Salvador, later this month.

The NACAC – the North America Central America Caribbean Association- championships are scheduled for July 15-17 at Estadio Nacional Jorge “El Magic” Gonzalez in San Salvador.


Thompson breaks U.S. Trials javelin record, settles for 2nd, falls an agonizing 5 INCHES from Olympics

VFJAIVANBAJAKMN.20160326000324Florence native Curtis Thompson bombed a meet-record 271-11 throw on his first attempt, then hung on for second place at the U.S. Olympic Trials javelin at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Despite placing second and holding the meet record for about half an hour, Thompson, the NCAA champion for Mississippi State as a sophomore this spring, will not represent the U.S. in the Olympics.

He needed to throw 272-4 by today to meet the Olympic standard and make the trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. So he wound up five inches from becoming an Olympian.

In previous years, athletes could chase marks after the Trials, but that practice has been disallowed this year, according to the USATF.

Veteran Cyrus Hostetler knocked Thompson out of the lead when he threw 273-1 on his fifth throw.

Hostetler, Sam Crouser and Sean Furey are the only Americans with the Olympic standard. So that trio will head to Rio, even though Crouser and Furey placed fourth and 11th in the Trials.

In other words, the Olympic Trials had no bearing on who made the Olympic team.

Thompson’s previous career-best 265-10 at the Florida Relays in Tallahassee in April.

Thompson broke the United States Olympic Trials new-implement record of 270-4, set in Breaux Greer. The current implement has been in use since 1988.

His mark in turn was broken half an hour later by Hostetler, who threw 273-1 on his fifth throw, breaking a seven-year-old personal-best.

Thompson’s 271-11 is No. 17 in U.S. history, No. 29 in the world this year, No. 2 among Americans this year and No. 6 on the all-time college list.

Thompson followed his 271-11 throw with a 238-5 and a foul. In the finals, he threw 236-7, 253-1 and 256-1 on his final attempt.

Here is a look at the updated all-time Trials performance list:

273- 1 … Cyrus Hostetler, 2016 [1]
271-11 … Curtis Thompson, 2016 [2]
270-  4 … Breaux Greer, 2004 [1]
268-  6 … Todd Riech, 1996 [1]
267-  8 … Tom Pukstys, 1996 [2]
261-10 … Brian Chaput, 2004 [2]
261-  4 … Dave Stephens, 1988 [1]
261-  4 … Riley Dolezal, 2016 []
260-  8 … Brian Crouser, 1988 [2]
260-  8 … Tom Petranoff, 1988 [3]
257-  7 … Mike Barnett, 1988 [4]

And here’s the updated all-time U.S. performance list:

  • 299- 6 … Breaux Greer, Indianapolis, June 21, 2007
  • 292- 6 … Tom Petranoff, Potchefstroom, Jan. 3, 1991
  • 285- 9 … Tom Pukstys, Jena, May 28, 1968
  • 276- 2 … Mike Barnett, Santa Barbara, Calif., July 11, 1991
  • 275-10 … Tim Glover, Tennessee Relays, Knoxville, April 11, 2015
  • 275- 2 … Dave Stephens, Knoxville, May 3, 1991
  • 275- 2 … Chris Hill, Eugene, Ore., June, 25, 2009
  • 275- 0 … Roald Bradstock, Tucson, Ariz., May 2, 1987
  • 274- 9 … Leigh Smith Athens, Ga., May 9, 2008
  • 273-11 … Riley Dolezal, Des Moines, Iowa, June 23, 2013
  • 273- 4 … Sam Crouser, Olympic Trials, Eugene, Ore., June 25, 2012
  • 273- 1 … Cyrus Hostetler, Pepsi Team, Eugene, Ore., July 4, 2016
  • 272- 9 … Sam Humphreys, Olympic Trials, Eugene, Ore., June 23, 2012
  • 272- 3 … Brian Crouser Corvallis, May 16, 1987
  • 272- 2 … Corey White, Texas Relays, Austin, April 4, 2009
  • 271-11 … Curtis Thompson, U.S. Trials, Eugene, July 4, 2016
  • 271- 5 … Duncan Atwood, San Jose, Calif., June 26, 1987
  • 271- 5 … Sean Furey, Lisle, Ill., June 9, 2012
  • 270- 5 … Ed Kaminski, Emporia, Kans., May 14, 1994
  • 270- 0 … Craig Kinsley, Lisle, Ill., June 9, 2012
  • 269- 8 … Mike Hazle, Doha, May 9, 2008,
  • 269- 5 … Todd Riech, Gateshead, Aug. 19, 1996
  • 265- 2 … Rob Curtis, Norwalk, Calif., June 14, 1990
  • 263-11 … Brian Chaput, Princeton, N.J., April 23, 2005
  • 263- 0 … Ty Sevin College Station, Texas, April 15, 2000
  • 263- 1 … Adam Montague, Drake Relays, Des Moines, Iowa, April 25, 2008

And here’s an all-time collegiate list, with every collegiate that’s ever thrown 265 feet. It  shows Thompson at No. 16 overall and No. 11 among American collegians. Those shown with an asterisk hit their PR outside the college season. If they had an in-season mark over 265 feet as well, it’s also listed.

292- 4 … Patrik Boden [Texas/Sweden], 1990
288- 4* … Matt Närhi [UTEP/Finland], 1999
279- 1* … Pål Arne Fagernes [Arizona State], 1996
275- 2* … Chris Hill [Georgia], 2009
273- 4* … Sam Crouser [Oregon], 2015
273- 3 … Tom Pukstys [Florida], 1990
273- 2 …… Narhi, 1999
272-10 … Cyrus Hosteler [Oregon], 2009
272- 9* … Sam Humphreys [Texas A&M], 2013
272- 2 … Corey White [USC], 2009
272- 1* … John Ampomah [Ghana/Middle Tennessee], 2015
271-11* … Curtis Thompson [Mississippi State], 2016
271- 0 … Dag Wennlund [Sweden/Texas], 1987
268- 8 …… Humphreys, 2013
268- 7 … Ioannis Kyriazis [Greece/Texas A&M], 2016
268- 7 … Esko Mikkola [Finland/Arizona], 1998
268- 4 …… Hill [Georgia], 2009
267-11 … Leigh Smith [Tennessee], 2004
268- 0 … Tim Glover [Illinois State], 2012
265-10 …… Thompson [Mississippi State], 2016

Deptford graduate Tim VanLiew,a former All-America soccer goalie and two-time NCAA Division 3 javelin champion, finished seventh at 236-8.

English Gardner runs wind-legal 10.74 and wins Olympic Trials 100!!!!!!!!

458cd238-bc5b-4c52-adbd-b3dd71eeae20Eastern High School graduate English Gardner ran 10.74 — seventh-fastest in world history — to win the 100-meter dash at the U.S. Olympic Track Trials and lock up her first berth on the United States Olympic track team.

Gardner’s time is a personal-best, No. 4 in U.S. history and No. 7 on the all-time IAAF world list.

It’s fastest in the Olympic Trials since Florence Griffith-Joyner ran a series of fast – but controversial – races in 1988 in Indianapolis – a world-record 10.49 in the first round, then 10.70 in the semis and 10.61 in the final.

Gardner had run a wind-aided 10.74 in the semis, but the wind was a legal 1.0 meters-per-second in the final.

Tianna Bartoletta (10.78) and Tori Bowie (10.78) will join Gardner at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Morolake Akinosun (10.95) and Jenna Prandini (10.96) made it five under 11 seconds in the final.

Running in lane 5, Gardner got out very quickly. Her reaction time was .151 of a second, fastest in the field. She broke away from Bartoletta and Bowie in the final 25 meters, then broke down on the track, sobbing at the realization of what she had done.

Gardner, a native of Voorhees and former New Jersey Meet of Champions winner at Eastern Regional High School, is the second South Jersey woman in two days to make the Olympic team. Marielle Hall of Haddonfield qualified in the 10,000 on Saturday.

In Olympic history, only three other South Jersey women have made the U.S. Olympic team – long jumper Carol Lewis of Willingboro in 1980, 1984 and 1988; Erin Donohue of Haddonfield in 2008; and long jumper Shana Williams of Bridgeton in 1996 and 2000.

The Olympics were opened to women in 1928, so from 1928 through 2012, three South Jersey women qualified and over the last two days two more did.

Gardner ran 10.90 in the trials Saturday and a wind-aided 10.74 – her fastest ever under any conditions – in the semifinals earlier Sunday.

Here are the full results of the final:

1. English Gardner [Nike] 10.74
2. Tianna Bartoletta [Nike] 10.78
3. Tori Bowie [adidas] 10.78
4. Morolake Akinosun [Texas] 10.95
5. Jenna Prandini [Puma] 10.96
6. Ariana Washington [Oregon] 11.01
7. Barbara Pierre [Nike] 11.10
8. Tiffany Townsend [adidas] 11.11

Bartoletta’s time is fastest ever for second place and Bowie’s is fastest ever for third place. The three now rank No. 2 and tied for No. 3 in meet history. The final produced three of the five-fastest performers in meet history.

Here is the updated all-time Olympic Trials performance list:

10.49 Florence Griffith-Joyner, 1988 [q]
10.61 … Griffith-Joyner, 1988 [1]
10.70 … Griffith-Joyner, 1988 [s]
10.74 English Gardner, 2016 [1]
10.78 Torri Edwards, 2008 [s]
10.78 Tianna Bartoletta, 2016 [2]
10.78 Tori Bowie, 2016 [3]
10.81 Evelyn Ashford, 1988 [2]
10.82 Gwen Torrence, 1996 [1]
10.83 Sheila Echols, 1988 [q]
10.85 … Ashford, 1988 [s]
10.85 Muna Lee, 2008 [1]
10.88 Diane Williams, 1988 [q]
10.88 Marion Jones, 2000 [1]
10.90 … Edwards, 2008 [2]
10.90 Lauryn Williams, 2008 [3]
10.91 … Torrence, 1988 [3]
10.91 Gail Devers, 1996 [2]
10.92 Alice Brown, 1988 [q]
10.92 D’Andre Hill, 1996 [3]
10.92 Carmelita Jeter, 2012 [1]
10.93 Marshevet Hooker, 2008 [4]
10.95 Morolake Akinosun, 2016 [4]
10.96 Chryste Gaines, 1996 [q]
10.96 Inger Miller, 1996 [4]
10.96 Allyson Felix, 2008 [5]
10.96 Tianna Madison, 2012 [2]
10.96 … Madison, 2012 [s]
10.96 Jenna Prandini, 2016 [5]
10.97 … Jeter, 2008 [s]
10.97 Michelle Lewis, 2008 [s]
10.97 Latasha Colander, 2004 [1]