Former Husky Hill Tops Discus Qualifying at Olympic Trials

July 10, 2004

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - One throw was all it took Saturday for former Husky Aretha Hill to earn a spot in Monday's final of the women's discus at the 2004 USA Track and Field Olympic Trials in Sacramento, Calif., bringing the 1996 U.S. Olympian one step closer to August's Olympic Games in Athens.

The former American collegiate record holder from Renton, Wash., will be the top seed in Monday's 12-woman discus final after launching her first throw 205 feet, 1 inch, more than eight feet beyond the 196-foot, 10-inch throw necessary for automatic entry into the final. Hill's Nike teammate Kris Kuehl was the only other of the 24 competitors to top the automatic standard, placing second in the qualifying round with a throw of 197-1.

All qualifying throws will be wiped off the books for Monday night's final, in which Hill will attempt to defend the U.S. title she won last year. The top-three finishers Monday will be guaranteed spots on the U.S. Olympic Team for Athens.

'I've made an Olympic team. I've gotten to see the world, thanks to track and field,' Hill says in her bio at USA Track and Field. 'I've had some great successes. Now I want to go back to the Olympics and be a medal winner.'

A 1998 graduate of UW, Hill has plenty of experience at the highest level of her sport, having won the 2003 Pan Am Games and placed among the top-three women in the discus at the USA Track and Field Championships in four of the last seven years. As a college sophomore in 1996, Hill earned her first Olympics berth with a third-place finish at the Trials, and placed 34th in Atlanta. She was the fourth-place finisher at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials, one spot short of a berth on the U.S. team for Sydney.

Currently a resident of Opelika, Ala., Hill is coached by former Washington head coach Ken Shannon, who tutored her to a UW women's-record four All-America awards during an outstanding collegiate career from 1995-98.

She is currently the world's seventh-ranked discus competitor, and is the No. 1-ranked American woman in 2004.

Hill is the third Husky to earn a spot in a field-event final at this year's Trials. Two-time NCAA indoor pole vault champion Brad Walker and All-American javelin competitor Megan Spriestersbach, both 2004 graduates of UW, will compete in their respective finals Sunday, having progressed through qualifying rounds on Friday.

Washington has qualified at least one athlete for all but four of the Olympic Games held since 1924, including a record four participants in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Of the 36 Huskies who have competed in Olympic Games, four have earned medals, and 18 placed among the top-five in their events.

For complete schedules and results from the 2004 USA Track and Field Olympic Trials, visit www.usatf.org.

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