Early in the 20th Century the sand of the New Mexican Desert was turned to glass during the Manhattan Project Testing. Somebody should head down to Tucson to check the status of their sand after this Memorial Day weekend. While we all take time to remember all that has been lost and won in order for us to have the luxury of even consider throwing as a profession the best throwers in the world in all events took to the Arizonian Desert to Drop Bombs in the Tucson Classic. Playing the roles of Einstein, Oppenheimer and Bohr and the 60 other great scientists that helped create one of the most powerful fear machines (The Atom Bomb) in history were Sultan Frizell, Chris Cralle and Brittany Smith among 60+ world class throwers who helped create one of the most powerful hope machines (Athletics) in history.
The Two-Day meet has become a staple for elite throwers attempting to set great PRs and qualify for international championships. On Thursday and Saturday throwers compete under the lights in the desert to rocking music and intimate crowds, a funded meet athletes travel across the globe to compete in this event. The best part of this event and track and field in general is, as apposed to say the superbowl, that athletes and fans are not separated by a veil of spectacle; in contrary the two groups are one in the same and after the competition any fan could go up to one of the competitors and ask them if they’d like to get a burrito and the overwhelming response would be, ‘just one?’
On Thursday the meet opened up with the women’s shot put, Becky Obrien won with a throw of 17.39m, a season’s best. IN the Women’s Discus it was a tight race between Rachel Longfers, Ashley Whitney and Stephanie Brown Trafton as they hit 59.67m, 59.59m and 59.33m, respectively. Then things really started to open up as Sultana Frizell smashed the facility and Candadian Record in the Women’s Hammer with a 75.73m throw, ‘always love competing in tucson’, stated Frizell. Next up was Amanda Bingson who came with a 74.44m toss, none of her throws were under 73.59 on the day. Jessica Cosby was third in the event with a 74.20m final round throw.
In the women’s Javelin Leigh Petranoff uncorked a 4m PR of 58.37m to pass Brittany Borman for the win, although she did not take any throws in the 3rd-6th rounds.
Her Father and Coach Tom had to say of her performance:
‘Our plan as too take 3-4 throws on thursday, like qualifying round and if she PR’d we would stop. Well she did and we stopped…Her throwing form is almost there and her weakness is strength. So that is easy to fix. Just need the reps and stay in form. 1-2 years and she will be there.’
In the men’s shot put Reese Hoffa went 21.48m But again the Hammer was King as Chris Cralle launched a sason’s best 75.26m Bomb on his final attempt of the night to beat the a.g.ing A.G. Kruger who went a respectable 75.04m. Sean Furey was the only elite men’s javelin thrower that night and went 78.53m, but like I said, this was only day one.
Saturday started up with a rematch between Sultana, Jessica and Amanda, who finished in that order with throws of 74.35m, 73.67m and 72.18m, respectively. Jolly Indian Giant Vikas Gowda stepped into the discus ring to toss a 65.62m to beat Russ Winger who went 62.40m. Ashley Whitney came back for the win on Saturday with a 60.19m toss just inches ahead of Liz Podominick’s 59.98m. In the Men’s Hammer Chris Cralle repeated as victory with a 73.67m toss. In the Men’sShot Put Jordan Clarke opened up with a 21.21m huck to beat Joe Kovacs’ 21.18m,
The Men’s Javelin was the group event of the night as 7 men surpassed 77M. Sam Humphreys led the charge with a 81.51m, followed by Tim Glover’s 79.95m and Riley Dolezal’s 78.94m. Cyrus Hostetler was 4th with a 78.50m and Craig Kinsley, Ben Woodruff and Sean Furey rounded out the gang.
Tom Petranoff would go on to add on the men’s Javelin competitions:
‘I must say that the men talent pool is so awesome. We have 6-8 guys maybe more who can get to 85-90m. The problem is many are hurting themselves as there form is inconsistent and they are throwing too much in warm ups…I sat and watched warm ups from stands by pole vault pit and up high. Dick Helds favorite spot to watch javelins. Almost all threw further in warm ups. I saw Humphries throw over 80 on 7 step easy throw at beginning of warm ups. So did almost everyone else. …In our day, Brian Crouser, Rod Ewaliko were doing the same thing. Winning the warm ups and dropping 5-10 meters in competition. I saw Brian throw many 90 meter throws in warm up and we encouraged him to throw more and the crowd loved it’
In the women’s Jav Kara Patterson came back with a vengeance with a 59.97m chuck to beat Leigh and Kim on Saturday. One of the better surprise performances of the weekend came in the women’s shot put where Brittany Smith increased her post collegiate PR in the shot by over half a meter going 18.57, her furthest throw since 2012, her junior year of college. She has also Pr’d by a meter and a half this season in the hammer going 70.27m.
Smith’s marks put her at 8th and 22nd in the world in the shot put and hammer, respectively and also 1st and 5th in America. This makes her the best dual threat female thrower on the planet and is yet to be sponsored.
On her competition Brittany added:
‘During my warm – ups I remember feeling good and my goal during the meet was to wrap in the middle and slam my hip through the finish. I kept building on the first and second throws and I gave the third throw everything I had and once it released I was hoping it would go past the 18 meter line and not only did it do that it went over the 60 foot line for the first time. Then I went into the 4th throw and it went even further!’
On her training Brittany stated:
‘Training has been interesting because I throw the hammer and shot I honestly was thinking about dropping the shot in the future because I hadn’t hit 18 meters in two years. But I had a great shot practice two days before the meet. I was nervous being at the Tucson Elite and throwing hammer two hours before the shot competition, because my legs were so tired. I did what I could to recover and got in there and threw my lifetime best! It’s a great meet and I’ll make sure to be out there next year!’
On Her goals for the future and the Tucson elite meet:
‘My goals now are to head out to USAs and really enjoy the time there and compete against the top girls in both the hammer and shot! I’m excited for the shot event we are having as well. I want to thank my coach Scott Bennett, teammates Tim and curt who have been there since the beginning. Craig Carter for the awesome meet in Tucson and for allowing me to use his implements! And all of my friends and family in and out of the track world that supported me and still are during this journey!’
The next big meet for elites would have to be Naperville in July where last year we found one of the greatest women’s hammer throw competitions in history, several 80m javelin bombs and a shot put venue that included the USA Elite and USA Youth developmental projects brought in by Tom Pukstys. Hopefully they’ll move the bleachers for Kurt this year and the fence for Sean and the rest of the Jav crew.
Between Kansas, Tucson and Naperville there are several great opportunities for throwers to compete, watch and meet with each other around the country but we still need more and not just more but more done better throughout the competitive season. It doesn’t cost a lot, in perspective, but takes the time to do it right with the right people in the right places at the right time. And although we complain day in and day out about funding and support and opportunities we should be thankful we even have the luxury of throwing rocks for a living instead of throwing rocks to live.