Former University of Florida athlete Erin Gilreath became the second UF women's track & field competitor to make the 2004 U.S. Olympic team after winning the hammer throw at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Track & Field Trials on Thursday at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex.
Gilreath joins former Gator Hazel Clark, who qualified in the 800m, as the second U.S. competitor with Florida ties to make the 2004 team. Gilreath, the American record holder in the hammer, posted a mark of 69.27m/227-03 on her first throw. The mark was an improvement by nearly five feet from her qualifying throw and was better than the rest of the field by more than a foot.
\"I was trying to approach this differently than the qualifying round where I was very nervous,\" Gilreath said. \"I wanted to be relaxed and composed.\"
LaQuanda Cotten also competed in the hammer and finished 11th with a toss of 62.56m/205-03.
Former Gator and six-time All-American Jernae Wright finished seventh in the finals of the long jump with a leap of 6.45m/21-02.00.
Kristin Heaston, a four-time All-American and three-time SEC champion, posted the top throw in qualifying for the shot put and will compete in the finals beginning at 10:45 p.m. (EST) on Friday. Her throw of 17.93m/58-10.00 was the best by seven inches. Karen Freberg also advanced to the finals after her throw of 16.35m/53-07.75 was the sixth best of the day.
Two-time Olympian Tom Pukstys will have a chance to make his third Olympic team after his throw of 75.46m/247-07 was the third best in the javelin qualifying. The finals of the event will be held on Saturday at 4 p.m. (EST).
Erik Newby, who ranked among the top 10 Americans in the triple jump entering the trials, had the 12th best leap in the event with a jump of 16.31m/53-06.25 and advanced to the finals, which take place on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. (EST).
NCAA champion Mike Morrison took 17th in the prelims of the high jump with a mark of 2.20m/7-0.25, while former Gator David Furman was right behind in 18th with a jump of 2.15m/7-00.50. Neither advanced to the finals.
Competition at the 2004 U.S. Track & Field Trials continues through Sunday. The Trials will air live on the USA Network on Friday from 11 p.m. – 1 a.m. (EST). Live results can be found at www.usatf.org