Hoffa, a Lakeside High School and University of Georgia alum, won the event with a throw of 72 feet, 6¼ inches. Cantwell was second at 71-2¾, while Nelson, a two-time Olympic silver medalist, was third at 68-6½.
Hoffa also qualified for the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, finishing second in the trials. He qualified 22nd at the Olympics in Athens, Greece, and failed to qualify.
“In 2004, I was young and naive,” Hoffa said in an interview posted on the USA Track & Field’s Web site. “When people expect you to make the team, it’s different. A lot more pressure.”
Hoffa won his shot put flight Friday night to advance to the finals in the trials.
“When you actually make an Olympic team, you just have to take a deep breath and look around you and be thankful for making it through such a talented field,” Hoffa said.