June 24, 2012
EUGENE, Ore. - On the nation's biggest stage, red-shirt junior Beth Rohl threw a Big Ten-record 57.82 meters (189-8) in the discus finals at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Sunday night at Hayward Field.
The previous Big Ten record of 57.76 meters was set by Gia Lewis of Illinois in 2001.
Stephanie Brown Trafton, who claimed gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, won the event with a throw of 65.18 meters (213-10) to make the Olympic team once again, while Aretha Thurmond took second with a toss of 62.23 meters (204-2) and also qualified for London.
The automatic qualifying standard to make the Olympics is 62.0 meters and a country can send a maximum of three athletes in the event; Rohl's throw was good for a seventh-place finish at the trials.
Rohl has established a new school standard in the discus in her last three competitions. She qualified for the finals at the U.S. Olympic Trials by recording a toss of 57.56 meters (188-10) in the preliminary round on Friday night. She also placed seventh in the preliminary round; the top 12 finishers out of 24 advanced to the finals.
"Beth has stepped up at every championship level," said Walt Drenth, Director of Track and Field/Cross Country. "She was outstanding at the Big Ten Championships, then placed fourth with a school record at the NCAA Championships, and continued to make strides with the best throw in Big Ten history at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
"She was real excited to compete at Hayward Field. She loves competing there and has performed very well there. Her first goal was just to make the finals, which is an incredible accomplishment within itself. Then for her to get six more throws against the best competition in the nation was a tremendous opportunity for her, and she came through."
"When Beth sets a goal, I believe it," said throws coach John Newell, who was at the trials coaching Rohl. "And today, she told me she felt great and was going to throw far. She respects everyone she competed against, but she wasn't intimidated. She knew she had to earn their respect, and she certainly did that today. Afterwards, people were coming up to her, asking for her autograph and congratulating her. It was a special moment."
Rohl earned a trip to the U.S. Olympic Trials after placing fourth at the NCAA Championships on a then-school record throw of 56.85 meters (186-6). She needed a throw of at least 56 meters to meet the provisional "B" standard.
Rohl has had an exceptional 2012 campaign, earning bronze medals in hammer throw as well as the discus at the 2012 Big Ten Outdoor Championships. She has also earned First-Team USTFCCCA All-American Honors for the outdoor and indoor seasons.
"We're certainly looking forward to next season when the NCAA Championships are at Hayward Field," said Drenth. "Beth is a young thrower, and it's a very long developmental process. The Olympic Trials champion (Stephanie Brown Trafton) is 32, so Beth has a lot of room to improve. We feel that if she continues to make progress throughout the year that she certainly would be one of the favorites to win nationals next season."
Also representing Michigan State at the U.S. Olympic Trials was Tori Franklin, who placed 17th in the preliminary round of the triple jump on Saturday night with a leap of 12.53 meters (41-1 1/2).
"For Tori to make it out to Eugene as a freshman is impressive as well for an event as technical as the triple jump," said Drenth. "We feel like we have a lot of great pieces in place for next season."