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Women's Javelin Story
By Steve Ritchie / Special to the Statesman Journal
July 1, 2012

Rachel Yurkovich
Eugene, OR - The women's javelin throw took center stage on Sunday afternoon at the US Olympic Trials and what an emotional ride it was.

Former Newberg HS and UO athlete Rachel Yurkovich made the Olympic team, but was trying to hold back tears of disappointment after the competition. Gresham High School junior Haley Crouser didn't make the team, placing seventh, but she was beaming afterward. Recent Oklahoma graduate Brittany Borman came through with a huge lifetime best throw on her last attempt to win the event and make the Olympic team.

A great show in an event that is clearly on the upswing for American women.

It's rare that javelin, or any throwing event other than maybe shot put, becomes a featured event at a U.S. track and field meet.

But the Olympic Trials started with a special focus on the hammer event - "Hammer Time" at the Nike World Campus in Beaverton ten days ago - and ended with the women's javelin in front of a packed house at Hayward Field on Sunday. The schedule planner deserves a bonus, I think, with the dramatic flair that both events provided at the Trials.

Kara Patterson
On Sunday the focus was on favorites Yurkovich, who had the leading throw by an American woman this year, 200-4, and her longtime friendly rival, Kara Patterson, who is the American record holder in the event at 218-9.

Yurkovich and Patterson were the only two throwers in the field with the A standard for the Olympic Games, so they were strong bets to make the team. In fact, the only way they would have been left off is if two or more other finalists not only beat them, but also achieved the A standard mark of 200-1.

That was a completely unlikely scenario, but one that almost happened - at least to Yurkovich.

Yurkovich got off to what can only be described as a horrible start, with a foul on her first throw and then subpar efforts on her next three. She stood in just seventh place after the first three throws, and looked totally frustrated.

She seemed to get her rhythm going on her last two throws, however, and ended with a best of 186-6, good for fourth place.

Brittany Borman
Kimberly Hamilton
Meanwhile, Patterson was comfortably leading the competition until, on her fourth throw, she landed awkwardly and had to pass her last two attempts. Then, Borman, who was sitting in third place, unleashed a huge throw on her sixth attempt to win it.

The next thrower, Kimberly Hamilton, had a chance to do the same and knock Yurkovich off the team. Hamilton couldn't do it and Yurkovich's spot was safe, even though she finished in fourth place.

Afterward, Yurkovich was brushing away some tears and admitting to very mixed emotions.

"I'm going to the Olympics and I'm elated about that," Yurkovich said."But this one stinks a little bit.

"My coach and I have been working on, if you start out a practice badly trying to end it on a good note and I feel like I sort of did that today. I progressed from a C- to a C+ or B-. To be honest, I wanted (to throw well) so much . . . but I made the Olympic team."

The day was the complete reverse of Yurkovich's experience at the 2008 Trials, when she finished third but was left off the Olympic team since she didn't have the required standard.

"I'm still upset with how I did (today) but I'm on the team. Four years ago, I was thrilled with how I did (at the Trials), but I wasn't on the team."

Haley Crouser
National high school record holder Haley Crouser was playing that role on Sunday. After a difficult time in the preliminary round on Friday, Crouser barely squeaked into the finals. But on Sunday, she put on a very good show for an appreciative audience.

Her second-best throw ever - 177 feet - came on her second attempt and put Crouser into sixth place after three throws. Then she bettered that on her sixth throw with a 179-8 to take seventh place.

"This is a great environment to throw in . . . and (I) was a lot better than on Friday. I was kind of disappointed on Friday. This is the closest I've come to my PR since I threw it (in April)."

Crouser leaves this week to compete in the world junior championships in Barcelona, Spain, and is hoping to improve her own high school record, which is also the national junior record, in that meet.

Dean Crouser
Her father Dean Crouser, a former standout thrower at the University of Oregon in the early 1980s, was proud of Haley's performance on the big stage.

"It was everything in the world we could have expected . . . She made it to finals at the Olympic Trials and had the second longest throw in high school history.

"I'm just proud of the way she went to work and just did what she needed to do in training every day. . . She made the most of her chance today. She couldn't have done any more."

With Yurkovich, Patterson, and Borman still very early in their careers, and Crouser still in high school, someone might want to make a note for the 2016 Trials schedule. Put the women's javelin prime time again!

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