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girls throws | 07-08 most outstanding performers

This is the fifth of a series of DyeStat year-end awards for 2007-08. The DyeStat Most Outstanding Performers series, which follows the DyeStat Athlete of the Year awards, includes top honors for boys and girls distances, sprints, hurdles, jumps, throws, relays, and multi-events. Selections are made by DyeStat editors and are based a combination of multiple major victories/honors won and performances on all-time and yearly lists. Performances from outdoor track, indoor track, and cross-country are taken into account..

Text by Dave Devine - Photos by Vic Sailer and John Nepolitan

Anna Jelmini

Despite entering her junior year as one of the top returners in the girls’ discus, Anna Jelmini had done little before this spring to suggest the sort of season she would have in 2008. She ended her junior year as not merely the best female high school discus thrower in the US, but the best Junior on the planet.

Picking up near where she left off in 2007, Jelmini hit an early-season 156-03 at East Bakersfield, then ascended steadily from there. Her 175-08 at the King City meet was already the national leader, but did little to prepare throws fans for the 183-11 she unleashed in the wind-friendly confines of Hartnell College at the Bill Kearney Invite. That mark equaled the #4 discus performer all-time, and placed Jelmini in a good position to chase Suzy Powell's 1994 national record of 188-04. While she didn’t conquer that mark in 2008, she was far from a one-hit wonder.

Jelmini won Arcadia and the California state meet handily, then took the USATF Junior Champs discus with a toss of 173-01 to qualify for the World Junior team. Before departing for Poland, Jelmini was among a handful of preps who took part in the US Olympic Trials, gaining valuable experience with her non-advancing 160-06 in the Eugene prelims. At World Juniors, she advanced to the finals, ending up 7th with her 162-7 second round throw.

More than simply a platter specialist, Jelmini left her mark on the yearly shot put list as well, taking the Arcadia and California state titles, then grabbing fourth at USATF Junior Nationals with a PR 50-04.00 which installed her firmly at US#3 for the season.

Becky O'Brien

After a summer jaunt to the World Youth Games in Ostrava, Czech Republic, opened Becky O’Brien’s eyes to the joys and challenges of competing on the world stage, the Greely ME star returned to the US eager to train even harder and ascend to the upper echelon of high school girls throwing. Her senior campaign, which included a US#1 ranking in the outdoor shot put and US#2 indoors, saw her accomplish exactly that.

In Ostrava, O'Brien had been somewhat of a revelation, placing 8th in the discus and 4th in the shot put. The experience catapaulted O'Brien into a senior indoor season in which she weekly competed with PA’s Karen Shump for the top shot put marks in the nation. At her Western Maine conference meet she topped 50 feet for the first time (US#1 50-6), only to see Shump surpass it later the same day. At the USATF Indoor Championships O'Brien again resumed the US lead with a 50-11 toss that earned her 6th in the senior-level event and set up a showdown with Shump at Nike Indoor Nationals. Shump took that meeting, hanging a rare high school loss on O’Brien’s tally sheet, but not before both throwers thrilled the grandstand with a see-saw battle of US#1’s which included O’Brien’s prelim 51-05.00, preceding Shump’s 52-04.00 in the finals.

Outdoors, O’Brien was even better, remaining consistent as Shump’s performances waned, and claiming her first national title with a PR 52-01.75 at Nike Outdoor Nationals. The same weekend, O’Brien journeyed from North Carolina to Ohio and matched her NON mark to finish second to collegian Chinwe Okoro at the USATF Junior Nationals. That placing qualified O’Brien for the World Juniors in Poland, where she failed to advance to the finals with her 48-5.50 prelim effort.

Not limited in her talents to merely the shot put, O’Brien was an accomplished discus thrower as well, reaching a PR of 161-11 at the New England Champs (US#5), and finishing as runner-up in the event at NON with a heave of 153-11.

Victoria Flowers

Classical RI senior Victoria Flowers entered her 2007-08 throwing campaign with a roar, setting a new national record in the weight throw at the Brown Invitational on December 28th, before the dust had even settled on the '07 cross country season. Her monster 61-00.75 toss took down Maureen Griffin's 60-10.50 from 1997, but it was only the beginning of a season-long tear that saw her extend the record all the way out to 62-02.00 at the New England Invitational Weight Throw meet in Providence RI on March 3rd. From there, Flowers went on to pull the rare “I-95 double” on national championship weekend in mid-March.

First, she secured the Nike Indoor National weight throw title with a heave of 61-02.00, then headed north to New York for the National Scholastic Indoor Championships and took a serious shot at her own record with a 62-00.50 winner there. Those back-to-back titles capped a stellar undercover campaign, and were more than enough to recommend Flowers for MOP status, but she was also a formidable shot putter— hitting a PR 46-03.50 at the Rhode Island Indoor state meet, and grabbing 7th at NON with an outdoor best of 44-00.75—and an excellent hammer thrower, finishing second in the NON hammer (167-10) behind seasonal leader and fellow MOP Allison Horner’s winning 177-02.

Her 179-00 hammer throw from early May left her ranked #4 on Bob Gourley’s yearly hammer list at the end of the season, and sent her into a summer in which she'll be preparing to throw for the University of Connecticut at the collegiate level.

Allison Horner

A member of the imposing Throw-1-Deep high school throwing corps from Georgia, Horner entered this year’s Nike Outdoor Nationals as the defending hammer champion and a clear favorite for gold after last year’s winning heave of 166-11. She also entered seeking redemption following an “off” performance at the previous day’s USATF Junior Nationals in Ohio, where she’d hoped to score a trip to Poland for the World Junior Championships with a top-two finish, but instead landed a disappointing fourth behind two collegians and her own teammate, Lauren Chambers.

Horner headed into the busy nationals weekend with every reason to hope for a triumph in both meets, as she held the top five throws in the nation for the season, with her 194-00 at a May 11th Georgia USATF meet ranking her #3 all-time in the United States, behind only Maureen Griffin’s 201-7 in 1998, and Jennifer Dahlgren’s 195-2 in 2002. While the USATF Juniors outcome was somewhat of a letdown, Horner rallied back the next day to defend her NON title, easily outdistancing national weight throw record-holder Victoria Flowers with a 177-02 hurl.

Although no match for Flowers in the indoor weight throw, Horner had substantial success in that ring as well, reaching 52-08.25 for third at Nike Indoor Nationals, and then making a trip north to grab fourth at NSIC with a 54-06.50 toss which left her ranked #5 on the annual Gourley Weight Throw list.

Honorable Mention

Erin Pendleton – The Woodmore OH junior made sure she wouldn’t linger long in her older sister’s shadow, topping ’06 and ’07 NON discus champ Emily’s Ohio state record with a US#2 168-10 at the Ohio Division III State Meet, then beating Emily (now a Michigan freshman) head-to-head at USATF Junior Nationals. Erin’s 164-08 for 3rd in Ohio earned her a trip to Poland for World Juniors, where she accounted herself well by advancing to the finals and taking 11th overall with a best of 158-11.

Roxie Grizzle – After Hannah Carson’s stunning javelin throws as an Arizona eighth grader last year, expectations were high that she would lead the nation in 2008, but it was Kansas senior Roxie Grizzle who soared to US#1 with a stunner of her own at the USATF Junior Nationals. Grizzle had been putting up strong marks all season, winning the Kansas Relays with a throw of 163-11 and the Kansas 4A State Meet with a heave of 165-05, but she hit another level in Ohio, tagging 5 feet onto her PR to reach 170-03, top Carson and finish 2nd behind collegian Karlee McQuillen.

Karen Shump – The shining moment for Pennsylvania star Karen Shump came at Nike Indoor Nationals, where she dueled Becky O’Brien in a battle of seasonal shot put leaders, and put everything together for a US#1 winning throw of 52-04.00 in the finals. Shump never quite matched her undercover exploits when the throwing shifted outdoors, but she brought her A-game to the USATF Junior Nationals, finishing sixth in a seasonal best of 48-10.25 against a stacked field. The mark left her at US#7 for the outdoor season.

Daniella Bunch – Illinois shot putter Daniella Bunch did most of her damage in-state, with her US#2 51-00.75 coming at her Corn Belt Conference meet. The Mahomet-Seymour junior first emerged as a threat indoors, when she hit 47-02.00 at the Illinois Prep Top Times meet, but her best performance may have been her fifth place finish in the highly competitive shot field at USATF Junior Nationals outdoors, where her 49-06.50 placed her ahead of Nike Indoor National champion Karen Shump.

Lauren Chambers – While Chambers’ Throw-1-Deep teammate Allison Horner may have garnered more attention with her #4 all-time hammer mark and NON title, Chambers was a model of consistently strong throwing all year. Indoors, she ranked second only to national record holder Victoria Flowers in the weight throw, and her best of 60-10.75 was superior to the 11 year-old record Flowers toppled this year. And while Shump and O’Brien were battling for the shot title at NIN, Chambers was grabbing the NSIC crown with a PR 49-01.50. In the hammer throw outdoors, her best of 184-09 trailed only Horner’s 194-00, and she topped Horner at USATF Juniors to take third at 178-09.

Year-End Awards Index