Cherry Hill East graduate Johnnie Jackson moved up from 18th place to 12th on his final throw and advanced to the final of the hammer throw at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Jackson was sitting in 18th place with a best throw of 219-7 going into his final throw. Only the top 12 throwers in the competition advance to the final Friday night at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
As he entered the circle, he needed to throw at least 228-5 to move past Justin Stafford and into 12th place.
He responded with a 228-6, and after the rest of the second flight completed their third throws, he hung on for 12th place and a berth in the finals.
Stafford finished 13th at 228-4, just two inches behind. Since Stafford had a better second throw (228-4), he would have advanced if they had tied.
Jackson and the other 11 throwers will compete in the finals starting at 7:25 p.m. on Sunday.
This was only Jackson’s third competition this year and first since April 23. He has a career best of 237-1, which he threw in Baton Rouge, La., on April 23. He also threw 235-1 in a meet in Greensboro, N.C., on April 10.
Jackson is ranked 12th among U.S. men this year and No. 61 in U.S. history.
Jackson is an incredible story. He never won a sectional or state title at Cherry Hill East, and his main claim to fame was probably winning the 2012 Camden County meet at Haddon Township in the discus.
But after going to Coffeyville Community College in Kansas and picking up the hammer and winning two national titles, he wound up at LSU, where he blossomed as a national class hammer thrower.
More on Johnnie’s background here!