USATF Men’s Shot — Hill Stakes His Claim For Greatness

Darrell Hill’s trophy shelf just added his first ever USATF title outdoors. (KEVIN MORRIS/PHOTO RUN)

Darrell Hill won his first national outdoor crown, giving him one of the major credentials he needed to feel he belonged in the company of America’s best shot men. This year’s indoor titlist and the reigning Diamond League champion, Hill upended one of the strongest fields in the meet.

Josh Freeman led after the first flight’s opening round with a throw of 65-2¼ (19.87), which remained the leading mark until his third-round 67-0 (20.42). Two-time World Indoor champion Ryan Whiting took the lead midway through the first round of the second flight, reaching 67-11¾ (20.72). Hill, throwing immediately after Whiting, responded with a 66-8½ (20.33) put to move into 3rd. In round 2, Olympic silver medalist Joe Kovacs took the lead with a 68-½ (20.74) effort. The Rio gold medalist, Ryan Crouser, then stepped into the ring and upped the ante to 68-10½ (20.99). Whiting improved his best to 68-2½ (20.79), but moving to 2nd ahead of Kovacs. Hill followed with a foul.

Curt Jensen, looking to break into this select company, took the bait and punched the ball out to 68-5¼ (20.86), moving into the runner-up position. Fouls for Kovacs and Crouser changed nothing, and they were followed by Whiting, who failed to improve. Hill throwing last among the major contenders, improved to 67-3½ (20.51), but was now standing only 5th.

As the fourth thrower for the final three rounds, Hill hit the first 70-footer of the day, reaching 70-1 (21.36). The pressure now applied, the trio of Kovacs, Whiting and the favored Crouser achieved only one fair throw and no improvement over the final three rounds. Meanwhile, Hill upped his lead to 70-9¼ (21.57) in stanza 5, and then watched to see if anyone could catch him. No one did in that round, and in the final sequence Kovacs had a fair put—but not his best of the day—Whiting fouled, and Jensen improved by a centimeter to 68-5¾ (20.87) to stay 3rd. The always-dangerous Crouser fouled for a fifth time, guaranteeing Hill a joyous win.

The 24-year-old Penn State alum fouled his final attempt, and said, “You can’t consider yourself one of the great shot putters in the U.S. if you never win a U.S. championship. Wins don’t come easy against these guys and I’m just thankful.”


USATF MEN’S SHOT RESULTS

(June 23)

1. Darrell Hill (Nik) 70-9¼ (21.57)

(66-8½, f, 67-3½, 70-1, 70-9¼, f) (20.33, f, 20.51, 21.36, 21.57, f);

2. Ryan Crouser (Nik) 68-10½ (20.99)

(f, 68-10½, f, f, f, f) (f, 20.99, f, f, f, f);

3. Curt Jensen (Vel) 68-5¾ (20.87)

(65-9¾, 66-½, 68-5¼, 67-11¾, 67-2, 68-5¾) (20.06, 20.13, 20.86, 20.72, 20.47, 20.87);

4. Ryan Whiting (Nik) 68-2½ (20.79)

(67-11¾, 68-2½, 68-1, f, f, f) (20.72, 20.79, 20.75, f, f, f);

5. Joe Kovacs (Vel) 68-½ (20.74)

(64-8, 68-½, f, f, f, 67-6) (19.71, 20.74, f, f, f, 20.57);

6. Josh Freeman (Iron) 67-0 (20.42);

7. Josh Awotunde (SC) 66-1 (20.14);

8. Garrett Appier (unat) 65-5½ (19.95);

9. Jon Jones (unat) 65-5 (19.94);

10. David Pless (Iron) 64-9¾ (19.75);

11. Austin Droogsma (FlSt) 64-6 (19.66);

12. Nick Demaline (OhSt) 64-4 (19.61);

13. Jordan Geist (Az) 64-½ (19.52);

14. Jared Kern (SnIl) 63-9½ (19.44);

15. Payton Otterdahl (ND) 62-6¾ (19.07);

16. Andrew Liskowitz (Mi) 61-11½ (18.88);

17. Tripp Piperi (Tx) 60-5¼ (18.42);

… 3f—Willie Morrison (In). □