U.S. Junior Champ Hillman on to Olympic Trials
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AMES, Iowa – The future of Iowa State thrower Christina Hillman looks bright. No one knows that more than her coach, Iowa State throws mentor Grant Wall. He knew Hillman was special. By resume alone, Hillman was a great catch for the Cyclone track and field program. Now, after winning the shot put title at the U.S. Junior Track and Field Championships last weekend in Bloomington, Ind., her actions are speaking louder than words.
The rewards of her performance paid off big time Wednesday when Hillman was accepted as a competitor in the Olympic Trials, which will be contested in the shot put on June 28.
Before that announcement, she was already focusing on the World Junior Track and Field Championshps.
“I’ve been training really hard here for the last couple months because I’ve been looking at this event all year and training for this all year,” Hillman said “This is what I’ve been looking forward to since I got to Iowa State. I’m working hard because I see this as the end-goal for my freshman year.”
Hillman, a Dover, Del. Native, competed against fellow American athletes under the age of 20 and came up big with a victorious best throw of 52-10. Her winning mark was a personal outdoor best. She ranks sixth on the world junior list.
“Her victory was complete,” Wall said. “Her five throws were all better than the best throw of the runner up.”
Indeed, second-place finisher Torie Owers’ best throw was 15.36 (50-4 ½). Hillman’s shortest effort was 50-7 ¼.
The victory qualifies Hillman to compete in the World Junior Track and Field Championships next month in Barcelona, Spain. Her success follows previous achievements. The Pan-Am Junior champion in 2011, Hillman also won the national prep high school indoor title and won the Penn Relays prep championship in the same season.
Hillman got her first taste of collegiate competition during the 2012 indoor season. The freshman placed eighth at the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championship in February.
“I think that competition opened her eyes somewhat,” Wall said. “There was work to be done.”
Hillman got to work, redshirting the outdoor season. Now, some of that hard work is starting to pay off.
“It is all lining up for her right now,” Wall said.
Coach and student-athlete are not going to Barcelona just for the experience or to wear red, white and blue. This will be a business trip for Hillman, who will be competing in the first international trip of her career.
“I love competing at big meets like this,” Hillman said. “I really want to throw 55 feet in Barcelona. My performance in Indiana proved to me that I can.”
Hillman is not the only one with lofty expectations when she faces some of the best throwers in the world. Wall also said that he thinks the competition will bring out her best.
“I think she can finish among the top five,” Wall said.
Track meets are not contested on paper, but Hillman’s resume and hard work affirm her coach’s belief that she is on the right track and that such an achievement is now possible. If it happens neither Wall nor Hillman will leave the European continent surprised.