Olympic Trials Men’s Hammer — The American Record Falls To Rudy Winkler

The signboard said it all as Rudy Winkler ended Lance Deal’s long reign. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

EVERY TIME THAT Rudy Winkler stepped into the hammer ring it was an event, building on an already spectacular season by breaking the Meet Record with his first-round 264-11 (80.75).

It was his next throw that will go down in history: An American Record 271-4 (82.71) that supplanted Lance Deal’s 270-9 (82.52), which had stood for just short of a quarter-century.

“It means the world,” said the new standardbearer. “Every track athlete’s dream is to go to the Olympics. To do it in this fashion, I do not have any words. I am very proud of doing it in this fashion. I was more prepared for this than I have been for anything in my life.”

The top three places were decided in the first round, but that did not keep this from being a highly spirited competition. Spurred on by an enthusiastic, sun-drenched crowd that vied for sparse viewing spots on the outer perimeter of Hayward Field, a hammer festival broke out.

Daniel Haugh threw 250-9 (76.42) to position himself in 2nd in the first round, and there he stood until the end. Similarly, Alex Young staked his claim to 3rd with his 244-10 (74.64) opener.

By the end of the day, while their places had not changed, their numbers certainly had. Even with their Olympic berths already assured, Haugh and Young pressed the pace and threw PRs of 260-5 (79.69) and 256-11 (78.32) on their final throws.

In a technically proficient competition, there was only one foul among the top 3’s 18 throws.

Notable for Winkler was his series: with 5/6 throws over 80m (262-5), and the sixth at 79.61 (261-2), he just missed tossing a perfect game. Two of his throws exceeded his previous best, and this series became a personal statement: he can compete for medals anytime, anywhere, in any event.

“If you saw my practices leading up to this, this meet wouldn’t surprise you,” he said. “My mindset going into this was to stay focused and don’t overdo it.”

Three-time national champion Conor McCullough was a dozen feet off the pace as his fifth-round 244-10 (74.64) secured him 4th, while Michael Shanahan had four progressively longer throws in stanzas 2-5, and his 5th round 242-0 (73.77) earning him 5th.

Missing from the final was 260-footer Sean Donnelly, who was No. 5 on the world list entering the competition. Favored to make the team, Donnelly fouled all three trials and found himself facing a changed landscape the rest of this season.

In a Crouser-esque moment of reflection, Winkler concluded that while the record distance surprised him, “I think I can throw further.”

MEN’S HAMMER RESULTS

(June 20)

1. Rudy Winkler (Tracksmith/NYAC) 271-4 (82.71) AR (old AR 270-9/82.52 Lance Deal [NYAC] ’96)

(264-11, 271-4, 265-8, 269-4 [x, 7 A], 261-2, 263-5) (80.75, 82.71, 80.98, 82.10, 79.61, 80.28);

2. Daniel Haugh (T1D) 260-5 (79.39) PR (6, x A)

(250-9, 252-4, f, 251-4, 259-1, 260-5) (76.42, 76.93, f, 76.60, 78.97, 79.39);

3. Alex Young (unat) 256-11 (78.32) PR

(244-10, 248-5, 249-4, 243-7, 244-3, 256-11) (74.64, 75.73, 76.01, 74.25, 74.45, 78.32);

4. Conor McCullough (NYAC) 244-10 (74.64) (f, 240-3, 244-6, 239-2, 244-10, 240-2) (f, 73.23, 74.53, 72.90, 74.64, 73.21);

5. Michael Shanahan (CVE) 242-0 (73.77) (f, 236-7, 238-10, 240-4, 242-0, f) (f, 72.11, 72.80, 73.25, 73.77, f);

6. Brock Eager (unat) 239-4 (72.94)

(239-4, f, f, f, f, f) (72.94, f, f, f, f, f);

7. Alex Talley (NDSt) 236-8 (72.14) PR

(236-8, 229-5, 229-8, f, f, 228-8) (72.14, 69.94, 70.01, f, f, 69.71);

8. Vlad Pavlenko (IaSt) 230-0 (70.10)

(224-3, 230-0, 221-6, 206-2, 213-8, 227-11) (68.37, 70.10, 67.51, 62.85, 65.14, 69.48);

9. Erich Sullins (unat) 229-11 (70.09)

(222-7, 229-11, 226-5) (67.85, 70.09, 69.01);

10. Johnnie Jackson (unat) 226-4 (69.00)

(226-4, 225-7, 221-10) (69.00, 68.76, 67.61);

11. Israel Oloyede (Az) 223-9 (68.21)

(223-9, f, f) (68.21, f, f);

… 3f—Morgan Shigo (Vel).

QUALIFYING (June 18)

Qualifiers: Winkler 259-7 (79.13), Haugh 254-0 (77.43), Young 252-11 (77.09), Shigo 244-0 (74.39), Eager 240-8 (73.37), Shanahan 239-1 (72.89), McCullough 236-7 (72.11), Sullins 234-0 (71.32), Pavlenko 233-3 (71.10), Oloyede 231-2 (70.46), Talley 230-0 (70.10), Jackson 228-6 (69.66);

Non-qualifiers: Justin Stafford (unat) 228-4 (69.60), Tyler Merkley (PennSt) 224-11 (68.56), Manning Plater (Il) 224-1 (68.30), Mike Bryan (Wich) 223-0 (67.98), Colin Dunbar (unat) 222-11 (67.94), Nathan Bultman (unat) 220-9 (67.28), Austin Combs (Find) 218-0 (66.45), Victor Perez (unat) 217-7 (66.33), Alex Hill (Ash) 217-6 (66.31), Avery Carter (unat) 213-6 (65.09), Ryan Davis (EC) 208-11 (63.68);… 3f—Sean Donnelly (adi).

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