Hill Earns U.S. Discus Title, 2004 Olympics Berth

July 12, 2004

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Former Husky Aretha Hill won the discus Monday at the 2004 USA Track and Field Olympic Trials in Sacramento, earning the Renton High School graduate her second-straight U.S. women's title and a berth on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team. The 1998 UW grad is ranked seventh in the world entering next month's Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, where she will seek to become Washington's fifth Olympic medalist all-time.

Just as she did a year ago in winning her first U.S. women's discus crown, Hill set the standard for the event with her first throw of the night -- bombing the discus 208 feet, 6 inches -- then watched as the 12 other finals competitors tried in vain to better her mark with any of their remaining throws. Sixty-three combined attempts later, only two had managed to surpass 200 feet, and none were within five feet of Hill's best, thus clinching the Renton native's second-straight U.S. discus title.

Stephanie Brown of Moreno Trenching and UCLA alum Seilala Sua of Nike will join Hill in Athens, by virtue of their respective second- and third-place finishes Monday. Brown's best effort sailed 203 feet, 1 inch, while Sua managed a 202-foot, 1-inch toss.

Hill is the first Washington graduate since Herman Brix in 1930-31 to win consecutive American titles, and one of seven to be crowned America's champion more than once. She has placed among the top-three at the USA Outdoor Championships in five of the last eight years, and was the gold medalist at the 2003 Pan Am Games.

Next month's Olympics will be the second for Hill, who as a college sophomore in 1996 followed up a third-place Olympic Trials finish with a 34th-place effort 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.

'It's been a tough four years,' Hill said Monday. 'I'm glad that this step is finally over. I'm excited to go to Athens; this is what I've been training for.'

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

Including Hill's qualification Monday, Washington has now sent at least one athlete to all but four of the Summer 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.

Four more Huskies, including UW senior-to-be Kate Soma and assistant coach Kelly MacDonald, will compete when the meet resumes later this week, after a two-day rest period Tuesday and Wednesday.

For quotes, complete results and schedule of remaining events at the 2004 USA Track and Field Olympic Trials, visit www.usatf.org.

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