There were no surprises this year in the women's discus competition at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Ore., as Arizona State University track and field star Anna Jelmini won her first-career national championship.
Jelmini led from start-to-finish on Thursday at Hayward Field and her fifth throw of 57.95m (195-01) helped her pull away from the field and remove any doubt as she beat the competition by over five feet.
The junior was the favorite in the event as a freshman and sophomore and also led the competition through the first five rounds at those events before massive last-second personal bests from Northeastern State's Tracey Rew in 2011 and San Diego State's Ashley Whitney in 2012 forced Jelmini to settle for runner-up finishes.
Jelmini answered the call on Thursday though and as Arizona's Julie Labonte jumped within a couple inches of Jelmini's early lead of 56.38m (184-11) on her fifth throw, the junior answered on the very next attempt with what would prove to be the winning mark.
Jelmini has now earned eight All-America honors in her career and gives Arizona State its 17th All-American in the discus and fourth national champion in the event in program history.
For throws coach David Dumble, Jelmini's victory is the second of the weekend for the throwers after Chelsea Cassulo nabbed the hammer throw title yesterday. Dumble, now in his 12th year at ASU, has coached his student-athletes to 24 national championships during his tenure.
Also on the women's side, senior Keia Pinnick had a career-best day in the women's heptathlon with a score of 3,530 points and currently sits fourth heading into tomorrow's second and final day. It was nearly 100 points netter than her previous first-day career best.
Pinnick opened the day with a career-best time in the 100-meter hurdles in 13.13, a time that ranks fourth in ASU history in the event and she took the heptathlon school record in the event from Jacquelyn Johnson, who held the previous record at 13.21.
She would go on to clear 1.66m (5-05.25) in the high jump before setting a seasonal best in the shot put with a throw of 11.07m (36-04.00)
Pinnick went on to dominate the field in the 200-meter dash to end the day with a slightly wind-aided time of 23.60 that was two-tenths of a second faster than any other competitor and would have broke her own heptathlon record in the event were the wind not at 2.3.
Pinnick finished the day 155 points behind current leader, Makeba Alcide of Arkansas.
In the women's 1,500-meter run prelims, Shelby Houlihan paced the field for much of the race and recovered nicely when the field started to attempt to make a move around her with 200 meters left. Houlihan kicked strong for a second-place run in her heat in 4:14.61 – just two-tenths of a second behind Natalja Piliusina of Oklahoma State as the fastest time of the prelim round.
Houlihan, a sophomore, automatically advanced to Saturday's final in the event for the first time in her young career.
In the men's 110-meter hurdles, Cameron Taylor ran a wind-aided 13.98 and did not advanced to the final. He finished 18th overall in the prelim round.
The Arizona State women are currently second through the first two days with 20 points, two points behind the leader, Kansas. The men are currently tied for seventh but have maxed out their point potential with no competitors remaining.
Friday will be more of a laid back day for the Sun Devil squad, with only Pinnick slated to compete as she finalizes the heptathlon competition. She will get underway at 12:30 p.m. PT in the long jump.
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