BEAVERTON, Ore. – It was a rare day for U.S. hammer throwers, often left to feel their event is a ball-and-chain around a track meet.
For reasons both logistical and promotional, the U.S. Olympic Trials hammer throw took place Thursday at Ronaldo Field on the Nike campus, about 100 miles from Eugene, where the rest of the trials meet begins Friday. With Nike creating a special feeling for the event, the hammer throwers wound up with a much larger crowd than usual - and perfect weather.
“I wanted to throw far for the people, so they would go, `Ooh,’ and `Aah,’ said reigning NCAA champion Jeneva McCall of Southern Illlinois. “They didn’t go `Ooh’ or `Aah’ for me.”
That’s because it was an “aargh” day for McCall. The Thornridge High School grad finished 10th, failing to make the nine-woman final. Her best throw, 219 feet, 2 inches, was eight feet below her season best.
Amber Campbell of Indianapolis won at 235-6, followed by Amber Bingson of Las Vegas (also 235-6) and Jessica Cosby (232-2). All three have the qualifying standard for the London Olympics.
Brittany Smith of Oak Park and Illinois State, the 2012 NCAA runnerup, was 11th at 216-7.
“I couldn’t hit another gear,” McCall said. “I had power, and strength, but I couldn’t go fast.”
McCall also is competing in the discus Friday and the shot June 29, but the hammer likely was her best shot at the Olympic team.
“You don’t have to be too fast for the disc,” McCall said. “You’ve just got to be powerful. I’ve got the elements right now for the discus and the shot but not the hammer.
“That,” she said with a laugh, “is why I entered all three.”
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