Women strode many different paths to make the U.S. Olympic track and field team
August, 2, 2012
By Doug Binder | ESPN.com
DyeStat file photoBrigetta Barrett (above) went from prep standout to Olympian in three years but the women of the U.S. track and field team made it to London in a wide variety of ways.The women on the women's U.S. Olympic track and field team didn't follow the same blueprint. Some are high school record holders and many of them are state champions. Some were featured on Dyestat. Others didn't flourish until college, or even later.
They have arrived at one moment in time, at London, as teammates. But if this list is evidence of anything, it's that perseverance pays off. And in the case of Amy Acuff, a five-time Olympian, persistence.
Here is a closer look at the origins of this year's team.
WOMEN | MEN
Carmelita Jeter (100), Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.): She was a basketball player first (she's the younger sister of former NBA player Pooh Jeter) and barely scratched the surface of her potential as a sprinter in high school. Her long road to world-class stature didn't gain traction until she got to Division II Cal State-Dominguez Hills. ... Reigning world champion in the 100.
Tianna Madison (100), Elyria (Elyria, Ohio): She was one of the top athletes in the country as a senior in 2003. She was US#1 in the long jump at 20-7.25 and won the outdoor national title in that event. She also ran US#14 11.72 in the 100 and US#28 24.02 in the 200 at the Ohio state championships. She won six outdoor state titles in Ohio. ... In 2005, she was the world champion in the long jump.
Allyson Felix (100/200), Los Angeles Baptist (North Hollywood, Calif.): Simply put, she is one of the greatest high school sprinters in history. She ran a scorching 22.11 at a Grand Prix meet in Mexico City to set a all-time 200-meter record that still stands. She also ran a wind-aided (2.4w) 100 meters in 11.12 seconds at the Southern Section finals. And her 400 PR was 52.26. It's no wonder that she signed a pro contract straight out of high school. ... Owns eight gold medals from the World Championships.
DyeStat file photoAllyson Felix broke the national high school record in the 200 meters before embarking on a Hall of Fame professional career.
Sanya Richards-Ross (200/400), St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.): The Jamaican-born sprinter was a great high school athlete all four years and dominant as a senior in 2002, running US#1 11.39 to win the national outdoor title in the 100, US#2 23.03 to win the outdoor title in the 200 and US#1 50.69 in the 400 at U.S. Juniors. (She ran 11.61 in the 100 in the summer after ninth grade). ... She has five gold medals from World Championships, two from the Olympic Games.
Dee Dee Trotter (400), Cedar Grove (Ellenwood, Ga.): She was a standout in the 100 and 200 before finding global success in the 400. As a senior in 2001, she won the Georgia state title in the 200 (24.19), was second in the 100 (11.82) and ran anchor leg on her school's winning 4x400 relay.
Francena McCorory (400), Bethel (Hampton, Va.): She had impressive range in high school from 55 meters to 500. As a senior in 2006, she broke the indoor national record in the 300 meters (36.96) and the 400 (51.93) and was also US#1 that season in the 500 (1:11.97) and US#2 in the 55 (6.86).
Alysia Montano (800), Canyon (Canyon Country, Calif.): A rock-solid 800-meter runner all through high school, she ran 2:10.63 as a freshman. During her senior year, she won the California state title in the 800 in US#10 2:08.97.
Geena Gall (800), Grand Blanc Community (Grand Blanc, Mich.): She was US#6 as a junior (2:07.60) and US#2 as a senior (2:05.05) in the 800 meters. The 2005 graduate was also the national outdoor champion in the 800 meters. In Michigan, she doubled 2:09.60/4:51.44 (1,600) at the state meet.
Alice Schmidt (800), Elkhorn (Elkhorn, Neb.): One of the top 800-meter runners in the nation as a junior and senior in 1999 and 2000. Her junior year she won the national outdoor title in 2:09.49 and as a senior she was fourth in the same race in 2:08.85.
Morgan Uceny (1,500), Plymouth (Plymouth, Ind.): She won the Indiana state title in the 800 meters as a senior in 2002, running US#66 2:13.04 for the win. That result demonstrated some promise yet she didn't make the varsity lineup in her first year at Cornell. She's come a long way to earn the No. 1 ranking in the world for the 1,500 in 2011.
Jenny Simpson (1,500), Oviedo (Oviedo, Fla.): Her junior year was a little bit better than her senior year, but she was clearly one of the top prospects in the nation in high school. She had a pair of to-10 finishes at Foot Locker and had high school PRs of 4:49.01 (mile) and 10:28.82 (3,200 meters). ... 2011 world champion in the 1,500.
Shannon Rowbury (1,500), Sacred Heart Catholic (San Francisco, Calif.): A talented performer who won California state titles in the 800 (2001) and 1,600 (2002). She was US#4 in the 800 meters both years and finished her prep career with a PR of 2:08.52. She ran US#3 4:50.90 in the 1,600 as a senior.
Emma Coburn (3,000 steeplechase), Crested Butte (Crested Butte, Colo.): One of the few elite American distance runners who grew up at altitude. (Crested Butte is almost 9,000 feet high). She had a modest high school career by national elite standards, with a high school PR of 5:09 in the 1,600 meters. She was fourth in the Class 2A cross country meet as a junior (2006) and senior (2007). She was 29th at the 2007 Foot Locker Midwest regional. She was second in the 2,000 steeplechase at the national outdoor meet in 2008, fourth in 2007.
DyeStat file photoEmma Coburn, left, didn't win the national high school title in the steeplechase, but she won the 2012 Olympic Trials and will compete for the U.S. in London.
Bridget Franek (3,000 steeplechase), Crestwood (Mantua, Ohio): She was a well-rounded athlete who participated in softball, basketball, volleyball and soccer in addition to track. She was a top-10 caliber miler nationally as a junior and senior in 2005 and 2006 and a state champion in Ohio in the 800 and 1,600. Her high school PRs were 2:11.22 and 4:49.13 in the mile.
Shalaya Kipp (3,000 steeplechase), Skyline (Salt Lake City, Utah): A ski racer and basketball player, she used running to stay in shape before it became her focus. She never ran the steeplechase until she got the University of Colorado. She won the Utah cross country title as a sophomore and then as a senior had her third-place finish wiped away because an official disqualified her for rolling the waist band of her shorts. She was 28th at the 2008 Foot Locker finals. She was 11th in the mile at Arcadia in the spring of 2009.
Julie Culley (5,000), North Hunterdon (Annandale, N.J.): She finished seventh in the 1,600 meters at the New Jersey Meet of Champions as a senior in 1999 (won by 2008 Olympian Erin Donohue). Her 1,600 best of 5:05.83 was not earth-shattering, but her steady performances earned the attention of Rutgers University.
Molly Huddle (5,000), Notre Dame (Elmira, N.Y.): She had very strong credentials in high school and as a senior in 2002 was US#2 in the 1,500 (4:27.04), US#1 in the 3,000 (9:21.37) and set a national record in the two-mile (10:01.08). But, she also lost to eighth grader Nicole Blood at the Loucks Games. In cross country, she was a one-person team and broke 12 course records, and was fourth in the 2001 Foot Locker finals. ... U.S. record holder in the 5,000.
Kim Conley (5,000), Montgomery (San Diego, Calif.): She was not on the national radar in high school. One of her best performances was a third place finish in the Sacramento city championship in the 1,600 (4:56.20) as a senior in 2004. She went to UC-Davis but never qualified for the NCAA Championships.
Amy Hastings (10,000), Leavenworth (Leavenworth, Kan.): A strong performer in Kansas, she won three state titles on the track and also won a cross country title. At the end of her senior year she was eighth in the U.S. Juniors 3,000 (9:53.10) and seventh in the Golden West 3,200 (10:38.32).
Lisa Uhl (10,000), Fort Dodge (Fort Dodge, Iowa): Before she was a big deal at Iowa State, she was a good runner in high school, but not outstanding. She was eighth in the Iowa cross country championships as a senior and set the Fort Dodge school record in the 3,000 in the spring of 2005: 10:16.71.
Janet Cherobo-Bawcom (10,000). Born in Kenya and moved to the U.S. to attend college at Division II Harding University, she became eligible to run for her adopted country in 2011.
Maria Michta (20K race walk), Sachem North (Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.): Her Olympic dream began in 1996 at the age of 10 and race walking became her thing in high school. She was 10th at the IAAF World Youth Championships in 2003 and 22nd at the IAAF World Juniors in 2004, her senior year.
Shalane Flanagan (marathon), Marblehead (Marblehead, Mass.): Great genetics, impeccable running form, competitive drive, all of the traits that went into forging one of the greatest careers in U.S. distance running were on display in high school. She was a three-time state champ in cross country (1997, 1998, 1999). She was second at the outdoor national meet in the mile (4:48.47), good for US#2 behind Wyoming's Alicia Craig, and she won the indoor title (4:46.91). ... 2008 Olympic bronze medalist in the 10,000.
Desiree Davila (marathon), Hilltop (Chula Vista, Calif.): She was fifth in the California state finals of the 1,600 as a junior and fourth in the 3,200 as a senior (2001). She ran 10:39.60 for US#23 at the Mt. Carmel Invitational and US#10 4:54.93 for second place in the mile at Golden West. She was a three-time league champion in cross country.
Kara Goucher (marathon), East (Duluth, Minn.): She was a two-time Foot Locker finalist who was perpetually motivated in high school by her rivalry with fellow Minnesota great Carrie Tollefson. In 1994, Tollefson beat Goucher by a second at the state cross country meet. Goucher graduated in 1996 with four Minnesota state titles.
Dawn Harper (100 hurdles), East St. Louis-Senior (East St. Louis, Ill.): She won the hurdles double three years at the Class 2A Championships in Illinois and had high school bests of 13.63 in the 100 hurdles and 42.70 in the 300. She concluded her senior season (2002) by winning the USATF Junior Olympics title in the 100 hurdles. ... 2008 Olympic gold medalist.
Kellie Wells (100 hurdles), James River (Midlothian, Va.): She endured a tumultuous high school career, the victim of abuse and endured the death of her mother in an auto accident. Through it all, she was a fixture at Virginia's state championships, but she only won once, in the 100 hurdles (14.7) as a senior in 2001. She was US#6 indoors in the 55 hurdles.
Lolo Jones (100 hurdles), Roosevelt (Des Moines, Iowa): She overcame a rootless upbringing and a fractured home life with the help of track and field. As a senior in 2000, she won the Iowa state championship in the 100 hurdles in 14.03 and also the 100 meters in 12.24. She also won the hurdles title as a sophomore. She is credited as a state record holder in the 100 hurdles at 13.40, but Iowa used 30-inch hurdles until moving up the standard 33 inches in 2009.
Lashinda Demus (400 hurdles), Wilson (Long Beach, Calif.): She was an exceptional athlete in high school and became the first girl to dip under 40 seconds in the 300 hurdles. Her 39.98 clocking as a senior in 2001 is still the national record. She ran 55.76 for fifth place at U.S. nationals coming out of her senior year, good for No. 2 all-time. She ran 13.39 (2.9 wind) to win the California state title in the 100 hurdles. She also ran 53.38 in the flat 400 indoors for a win at the Simplot Games. ... 2001 world champion.
DyeStat file photoLashinda Demus broke the national high school record in the 300-meter hurdles for Wilson High of Long Beach, Calif.
Georganne Moline (400 hurdles), Thunderbird (Phoenix, Ariz.): She swept the hurdles events as a junior and senior at the Arizona state meet. Her winning time in the 300 hurdles as a senior in 2008 was the second-fastest in state history, 43.15 seconds, but was US#36 that spring.
T'Erea Brown (400 hurdles), Hampton (Hampton, Va.): A five-time outdoors state champion in the hurdles events in Virginia, she was also one of the top hurdlers nationally in the Class of 2007. She was US#3 in the 300 hurdles (41.62) and US#13 in the 100 hurdles (13.73) as a senior.
Chaunte Lowe (high jump), J.W. North (Riverside, Calif.): She made a steady year-by-year progression in the high jump. She cleared 5-6 as a freshman, 5-8 as a sophomore, 6-0.50 as a junior and 6-1.50 as a senior. She won the California state title as a junior but lost to Sharon Day as a senior, in 2002. She won the outdoor national championship twice. She also had bests of 20-4.50 in the long jump and 41-3 in the triple jump.
Brigetta Barrett (high jump), Duncanville (Duncanville, Texas): She won the 2009 Texas state meet in the high jump with a 5-9 clearance but had a best of US#2 6-0, a bar she made twice as a senior. She also cleared 6-0 as a junior, for US#3. In three years since then she has added seven inches to her PR.
Amy Acuff (high jump), Calallen (Corpus Christi, Texas): She has been the high school record holder in the high jump for 19 years. It was 1993 when she cleared 6-4 and was Track and Field News' High School Athlete of the Year. She has a share, at least, of every class record. She cleared 6-0 as a freshman, 6-2.50 as a sophomore and 6-3 as a junior. ... Five-time Olympian.
Jenn Suhr (pole vault), Fredonia (Fredonia, N.Y.): She played a variety of sports -- golf, softball, basketball, soccer and track -- in high school. She didn't start pole vaulting until she was out of college, in 2004. As a senior at Fredonia, she won the state title in the pentathlon. ... 2008 Olympic silver medalist.
Becky Holliday (pole vault), Reed (Sparks, Nev.): A gymnast when she was younger, she took up pole vaulting in high school. She was fourth in the Nevada state meet as a junior, clearing 11-6. As a senior in 1998, she won the title with 12-3.
Lacy Janson (pole vault), Cardinal Mooney (Sarasota, Fla.): One of the nation's top vaulters as a senior in 2001, she was US#3 with a best clearance of 13-2. She won outdoor nationals, took gold at Pan Am Juniors, and was second at U.S. juniors as a senior.
Brittney Reese (long jump), Gulfport (Gulfport, Miss.): She won Mississippi state meet titles in the long jump, triple jump and high jump as a senior in 2004. She had bests of 5-10, 20-4.25 and 40-4.25 coming out of high school. ... World champion in the long jump.
Chelsea Hayes (long jump), Marion Abramson (New Orleans, La.): Had a best of 19-1 as a junior in 2005, prior to be displaced from her home by Hurricane Katrina. She attended multiple schools before returning to graduate at Marion Abramson. ... PR'd by 17 inches to make the Olympic team.
Janay DeLoach (long jump), Ben Eielson (Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska): Talent finds its way to the light no matter where it is located, even on an Air Force base in Alaska. She was a basketball player and also a standout in track. She won four straight Alaska titles in the long jump (was the first girl in state history over 18 feet) and had a best of 19-5 her senior year in 2003. She also won three state titles in the 100.
Amanda Smock (triple jump), Melrose (Melrose, Minn.): She dreamed of becoming an Olympian in gymnastics but found her talents in line with track and field. She won Class A Minnesota titles in the long jump (1999) and triple jump (2000) before going to Division II North Dakota State. It was a 12-year odyssey that took her from Melrose to London.
Jillian Camarena-Williams (shot put), Woodland (Woodland, Calif.): She has been a top thrower all the way back to her high school days. As a junior in 1999 she threw US#1 50-11.25 in the prelims of the California state meet and also won Pan Am Juniors. She didn't top her best mark as a senior, but still threw US#4 49-11.50 to win at Arcadia. She was third at the state meet in 2000.
Michelle Carter (shot put), Red Oak (Red Oak, Texas): Just like her father, she is the national high school record holder in the shot put. As a senior in 2003, she threw 54-10.75 at the Texas state championship meet. That was two weeks after she broke the record for the first time, at regionals. She also had US#5 169-3 in the discus. She also broke the indoor national record. As a freshman and sophomore she was US#5 both years. As a junior, she threw US#1 53-3.75.
Tia Brooks (shot put), East Kentwood (Kentwood, Mich.): Won indoor and outdoor shot put titles in Michigan as a senior in 2008, with a best of US#12 48-0.50. That mark was No. 2 all-time in Michigan. She was second in both the shot put and discus in the 2008 Midwest Meet of Champions.
Stephanie Brown Trafton (discus), Arroyo Grande (Arroyo Grande, Calif.): She played basketball in addition to track in high school and at 6-feet-4 she attracted Division I attention for hoops. She won California state titles in the shot put in 1996 and 1998 and was second in 1997. She added the discus crown as a senior, throwing 181-3, which is No. 11 all-time. ... Reigning Olympic champion.
Aretha Thurmond (discus), Renton (Renton, Wash.): She decided to play softball as a freshman but a P.E. coach interceded and offered a bet on a game of HORSE. If the coach won, she would go out for track and learn to throw the discus. Sure enough, the coach won. Thurmond took second at state as a freshman and won Washington state titles the next three years. As a senior in 1994 she broke the meet record with 160-9. ... Four-time Olympian.
Gia Lewis-Smallwood (discus), Centennial (Champaign, Ill.): She had modest throwing credentials in high school. As a senior in 1997, she was a state qualifier in the discus (127-4) but did not advance out of the prelims. It wasn't until she got to college that she got serious about throwing.
Brittany Borman (javelin), Festus (Festus, Mo.): A solid thrower throughout her high school career, she had high school bests of 47-11 (shot put), 150-5 (discus) and 155-1 (javelin). Because Missouri is one of the states that doesn't offer javelin, she had to hone her skills at out-of-state meets. Her best mark in high school came during her junior (2007) when she won the Great Southwest.
Kara Patterson (javelin), Skyview (Vancouver, Wash.): She won three Washington state titles, moving up progressively every year. As a senior in 2004 she was US#2 159-2, slightly ahead of her best junior mark 157-6. She capped her high school career by winning at Golden West. ... U.S. record holder.
Rachel Yurkovich (javelin), Newberg (Newberg, Ore.): A volleyball player who thrived under the high school coaching of Joe Boutin, she was US#3 as a sophomore (157-9), US#1 as a junior (161-11) and broke the national high school record as a senior in 2005 with 176-5. She surpassed 170 on two more occasions, setting an Oregon state meet record and also winning Pan Am Juniors. ... HS classmate Cyrus Hostetler is on the men's team.
Amber Campbell (hammer), Pike (Indianapolis, Ind.): She played volleyball and basketball in high school but also started throwing. She was third in the Indiana state meet in the discus as a senior in 1999 (147-6). She didn't pick up a hammer until she was at Coastal Carolina University.
Amanda Bingson (hammer), Silverado (Las Vegas, Nev.): Finished second at the Nevada state meet in the shot put as a senior in 2008 with a modest throw of 40-1.50. She tried hammer for the first time as a freshman at UNLV.
Jessica Cosby (hammer), Grover Cleveland (Reseda, Calif.): A strong high school shot putter, she was US#3 with 50-3.50 as a senior in 2000. She went back and forth that year with Karen Freberg (Arroyo Grande) and Jillian Camarena. She was second at Arcadia, second at the California state meet, second at Golden West and second at U.S. Juniors. ... U.S. record holder.
Hyleas Fountain (heptathlon), Central Dauphin East (Harrisburg, Pa.): She ran 11.84 in the 100, 24.79 in the 200, 14.34 in the 100 hurdles and cleared 5-11.50 in the high jump as a prep track athlete. She grew up idolizing Jackie Joyner-Kersee but didn't compete in the heptathlon until she got to college. ... Olympic silver medalist.
Sharon Day (heptathlon), Costa Mesa (Newport Beach, Calif.): Primarily a high jumper in high school and a very good one. She cleared US#1 6-2 at the Trubuco Hills Invitational as a senior in 2003. She won two California state high jump titles and even beat Chaunte Howard (Lowe) in 2002. She did track and played college soccer at Cal Poly-SLO. ... Turned her attention to heptathlon after making the 2008 Olympic team in high jump.
Chantae McMillan (heptathlon), Rolla (Rolla, Mo.): A two-time Missouri champion in the long jump (and runner-up two other times), she had a prep best of 19-11. She also jumped 40-0 in the triple jump as a senior in 2006. She began a transition to multis at the University of Nebraska.
Jeneba Tarmoh (relay pool), Mt. Pleasant (San Jose, Calif.): A top-flight sprinter in high school, she was US#2 as a junior (11.24) and senior (11.27). She swept the 100 and 200 at the California state meet in 2006 and 2007. She had a best of 23.14 seconds in the 200.
Bianca Knight (relay pool), Ridgeland (Ridgeland, Miss.): An outstanding high school sprinter, she ran US#2 22.94 in the 200 as a junior in 2006 at the U.S. Juniors. She also won the outdoor national title in the event. She also ran 11.26 in the 100. As a senior she was US#1 indoors with the 22.97 she ran at the Simplot Games.
Lauryn Williams (relay pool), Rochester Area (Rochester, Pa.): Broke the Pennsylvania state meet records in the 100 (11.78) and 200 (24.27) as a senior in 2001. ... 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the 100 meters.
Diamond Dixon (relay pool), Westside (Houston, Texas): US#3 52.92 as a senior in 2010 and also ran 24.64 for 200 and 2:15.97 in the 800. She won the Texas 5A state meet 400 meters twice, was eighth at the outdoor national championships and third at U.S. Juniors.
Keshia Baker (relay pool), Fairfield (Fairfield, Calif.): Something of a late bloomer, she was a California state finalist in the 400 meters three straight years (2004-2006) and progressed from 55.37 (sophomore) to 55.25 (junior) to US#22 54.46 (senior).