Big West Track & Field Claims Three Olympic Berths
A trio of former Big West track and field athletes competed at the top of their events in the 2012 Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. and garnered spots on the USA squad for the London Games.
Competition started Thursday, June 21 at Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon, and continued on through Monday, July 1 with 25 Big West representatives competing in 19 track and field events.
The athletes were comprised of a large some of Big West alumni and recent graduates from the nine institutes, including 2012 Championship standouts; UC Santa Barbara’s Ryan Martin and Barbara Nwaba, UC Irvine’s Jock Martin and Long Beach State’s Ben Woodruff and Matt Maldonado.
Of the 25 athletes that participated, 13 athletes advanced past the qualifying round, with five competitors making it to the final heats and three Big West graduates punching their ticket to the 2012 London Olympics.
Cal Poly graduate Stephanie Brown Trafton was the first to punch her ticket to the Olympic Games on Sunday, June 24 with a first-place performance in the women’s discus. Brown Trafton led from the start with a 207 feet, 8 inch toss, only to finish with a final throw of 213 feet, 10 inches to seal her trip to London.
This is Brown Trafton’s third trip to the Olympics since graduating from Cal Poly. In the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, Brown Trafton placed 11th in the first of two prelim groups with a 192-1 mark, finishing 21st overall. Just four years later she became Cal Poly’s first-ever Olympic gold medalist with a winning throw of 212 feet, 5 inches in the women’s discus at the 2008 Beijing Games in China.
At Cal Poly, the 2004 graduate was a seven-time Big West champ, four in shot put and three in discus, and a three-time NCAA All-American.
UC Davis volunteer assistant coach Kim Conley raced in the final heat of the women’s 5,000-meter run on Thursday, June 28 leaning her way to a third place finish and earning her first berth to the Olympic Games.
Conley pulled away from her fifth place position on the final straightaway to earn a top three placing for an Olympic spot, beating the “A” standard time with a 15:19.79 finish. Conley advanced after edging closest competitors Julia Lucas by .04 and Abbey D’Agostino by .19.
Before joining the coaching staff at UC Davis, Conley was a Big West two-sport athlete in track and field and cross country. The Santa Rosa native still holds the program’s No. 2 all-time spot in the 1,500 meters with a time of 4:22.17.
The third former Big West athlete to earn a berth in the London Olympics is Sharon Day of Cal Poly. She placed second overall in the women’s heptathlon with a total of 6,343 points.
Day, making her second straight trip to the Olympics, finished day one with 3,797 points through four events, trailing the leader by just 152 points. She closed the gap on the second day of the competition, finishing just 76 points behind the leader.
Day qualified for the women’s high jump in the 2008 Olympics, but did not advance to the finals, settling for a 12th place finish in Group A. Since then she turned her focus to the seven-event heptathlon, qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Trials with a personal-best 6,337 points at a meet last March at Westmont College.
Day excelled at both women’s soccer and track and field as a Mustang, garnering seven NCAA All-American certificates.
The Big West trio will head to the 2012 London Olympics as part of the U.S. contingent starting Wednesday, July 25 through Sunday, August 12.