Shot putter Reese Hoffa qualifies for third Olympics

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EUGENE, Ore. — Former Lakeside High and University of Georgia standout Reese Hoffa won the men’s shot put Sunday at the U.S. track trials with a mark of 72 feet, 2 ¼ inches to earn a spot on the Olympic team.

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Lakeside High School graduate Reese Hoffa won the shot put and qualified for his third Olympic Games.  CHARLIE RIEDEL/ASSOCIATED PRESS
CHARLIE RIEDEL/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Lakeside High School graduate Reese Hoffa won the shot put and qualified for his third Olympic Games.

Hoffa also won the 2008 Olympic trials, but finished seventh in Beijing.

Ryan Whiting was second at 71-¾, and Christian Cantwell was third at 69-9 ¾. Cantwell won the silver medal in the 2008 Olympics.

“I think we have three really strong throwers. We always send a strong team,” Hoffa said. “We have to get it done this time.”

In the men's long jump, former Glenn Hills and Clemson standout George Kitchens was third with a personal-best jump of 26 feet, 11 1/4 inches, just making the Olympic "A'' standard needed to qualify for the London Games.

"Everything I had mentally was on making this team," said Kitchens, a four-time All-American at Clemson from 2002-05. "I was expecting to win. I knew the talent was there. I continued to jump well. I've been doing this for a while. I'm happy I came through to prove myself."

Marquise Goodwin won the event with a personal-best of 27-4 on his final attempt. Will Claye was second at 27-0.

In the 100 meters, Justin Gatlin flew out to a fast start and held off Tyson Gay to win.

Gay, the American record holder, cleared his mind – forgetting all about the surgically repaired right hip or that he really hasn’t tested it out at top-end speed in more than a year.

And after flying down the track, not a trace of a limp in his step, this much was clear: The old Gay was back. He was only 0.06 seconds behind Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist who crossed the line in 9.80 seconds, but the time hardly mattered.

Also joining Gatlin and Gay in London will be 23-year-old Ryan Bailey, who edged 2009 U.S. champion Mike Rodgers, Doc Patton and Walter Dix, the Olympic bronze medalist in Beijing.

As expected, LaShawn Merritt cruised to the 400 title. So did Sanya Richards-Ross moments later in the women’s race.

Merritt, the reigning Olympic champion, finished in a world-leading time of 44.12 seconds. Joining him were Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum, who made the team after being shot in the legs as he left a restaurant after a Halloween party in 2008.

Noticeably missing from the 400 team was Jeremy Wariner, the silver medalist in Beijing and 2004 Olympic gold medal winner. He finished a distant sixth and won’t be going to London, unless it’s as a member of the relay team.

Wariner trudged off the track with his hands on his hips, refusing to stop and talk.

In other finals:

<0x2014>Olympic silver medalist and American record holder Jenn Suhr won the pole vault. She beat Becky Holliday, who has funded her training over the years by working odd jobs as a server and a bagger at the airport.

<0x2014>Reigning Olympic discus champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton easily earned a spot.

<0x2014>Marquise Goodwin, a receiver at the University of Texas, won the long jump with a leap of 27 feet, 4 inches.

<0x2014>Reese Hoffa led a solid cast of shot putters, winning the event with Ryan Whiting and Christian Cantwell also making the team. Cantwell captured silver in 2008.

“I think we have three really strong throwers. We always send a strong team,” Hoffa said. “We have to get it done this time.”

There was no resolution just yet on a way to break the tie for third place between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh in the women’s 100.

And With no protocol in place, there’s no guessing how USA Track and Field plans to settle the situation. The organization is still determining a procedure to settle the situation.

Bobby Kersee, who coaches both sprinters, just hopes the national governing body doesn’t do anything in haste.

To decide anything right now, the coach said, isn’t fair to Felix or Tarmoh, especially because they are both running the 200 later this week.

Felix and Tarmoh finished in a dead heat for the last U.S. spot in the 100 to the London Games, each leaning across the finish line in 11.068 seconds Saturday. One of them will join Carmelita Jeter and Tianna Madison, who are already on the team.

“Just leave them alone until after they run the 200 meters and then come up with a decision, how they’re going to figure out the way they want to settle this,” Kersee said. “This is a situation to be dealt with later, after you give the athletes an opportunity to focus on what they need to do, what they’ve been waiting around to do for four years.”

The 200 final is Saturday and the trials conclude the following day.

“You don’t have to bother us about this now,” he said. “You can wait until later.”


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