June 6, 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa - UC Davis senior Ashley Hearn's school-record throw of 57.94 meters on her final attempt in the discus launched her into a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships at Drake University on Wednesday night, making her the Aggies' first Outdoor Track and Field All-American in its Div. I era.
Hearn's throw converts to 190 feet, 1 inches and smashed her previous school mark of 184-8 set earlier Wednesday. She entered the championship with a school-record effort of 177-7 set at the NCAA West Prelim Meet at the University of Texas on May 25.
Hearn's finish also solidified her provisional qualifying mark for the upcoming U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at the University of Oregon and puts her in strong position to earn a spot in the elite field, according to head coach Drew Wartenburg.
"Her performance today stands as a great example of performing at your best when it counts," Wartenburg said. "Capping a decorated career and great postseason on the national podium, and with six (team) points on the board, is a huge testament to both her and Coach (Jonathan) Tipton's efforts."
Hearn's third-round throw of 56.30 meters (184-8) put her in third place after she sat in fifth after the first two rounds. The top nine competitors received three more throws and she unleashed her record effort on her final try, vaulting her from fifth where her mark later sat in the competition.
"(Her mark) should stand up for entry to the Olympic Trials, and it's great to know that Ashley has some bigger throws in her," Wartenburg said.
Whitney Ashley of San Diego State won the national title with a throw of 59.99 meters. Anna Jelmini of Arizona State (58.79) finished second.
Hearn's third-place finish was the highest ever at the Div. I Championships for either the Aggie men's or women's teams. Anthony Terry was sixth in the triple jump in 1974 while Teri Serrano placed 10th in the long jump in 1982. Both had won Div. II titles which earned them spots in the Div. I field under rules no longer in existence.
Hearn is a two-time Big West champion in the discus. She's one of two UC Davis competitors in the field at Drake this week. Junior Sarah Sumpter, the Big West Conference champion and record-holder in the 10,000-meter run, will compete in that event on Thursday evening.