New Jersey legend Keturah Orji, who has a history of having a flair for the dramatic, added to her remarkable legacy with another historical performance at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Sunday at Hayward Field in Oregon.
The 25-year-old Orji, the American record holder in the triple jump and a 2014 graduate of Mount Olive High School, soared 47-7.75 on her final attempt in the triple jump to break the meet record and earn a spot on her second U.S. Olympic Team.
Toni Franklin, the former American record holder in the event, was second with a 47-1.50, and Jasmine Moore of the University of Georgia was third with a 46-5.25 to secure the other two spots on the Olympic Team.
Orij, who set the American record in the TJ last month with a 48-11.50 at the ??, broke the meet record of 47-5 that was set by Tiombe Hurd in 2004 in Sacramento and became the first woman to ever win the triple jump in back-to-back Olympic Trials.
The most decorated triple jumper in U.S. history, Orji will attempt to become the first American woman to ever medal in the TJ at the Olympics at the 2021 Games next month in Tokyo. Orji came agonizingly close to winning the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, placing fourth with a mark of 48-3.25, just 1.25 inches behind bronze medalist Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan (48-4.50).
Orji, the Bowerman Award winner during her senior year at the University of Georgia in 2018, is done yet at the Olympic Trials. She will be back on the runway at Hayward Field this Thursday when she competes in the long jump.
MORE HIGHLIGHTS INVOLVING NJ HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES
Note-Many more NJ high school graduates will be in action later this week, including Sydney McLaughlin, Ajee' Wilson, Athing Mu, Sam Mattis, Marielle Hall, Corey Crawford, Olivia Baker, Taylor McLaughlin, Allie Wilson, and Jess Woodard.
Josh Awotunde (Delsea/Class of 2013) came within three inches of making the Olympic team when he unloaded a huge PR of 71-8 to place in Friday's men's shot put competition. That's No. 19 on the All-Time U.S. list, No. 9 in the world this year, and No. 12 in meet history.
Awotunde's 71-8, which shattered his PR of 71-1.50, would have been good enough to make every previous Olympic team. Awontude finished three inches behind Payton Otterdahl, who got the third and final spot on the Olympic team with a 71-11. Darrell Hill was fourth at 71-10. Ryan Crouser won the shot put with a World Record 76-8.25. Joe Kovacs took second with a 73-3.5, and Andrew Liskowitz (Christian Brothers Academy/Class of 2015) finished sixth with a 69-8.75.
Defending women's 100 dash champion English Gardner (Eastern High School/Class of 2010), finished sixth in the finals of the 100 in 11.16. Gardner ran 10.96 in the semifinals. Gardner, who earned a gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics in the 4x100 relay, has a chance to be added to the Olympic team in the relay pool.
UCLA's Alyssa Wilson (Donovan Catholic/Class of 2017) finished eight in the women's discus with a throw of 189-1 , the highest finish by a college athlete. Wilson will back in the circle on Thursday when she competes in the hammer throw. Wilson qualified for the hammer with a throw of 228-3 and she's ranked No. 8 in the U.S. and No. 41 in the World this season.
Curtis Thompson (Florence High/Class of 2014), advanced to the men's javelin final with a 250-1 throw in the qualifying round. The finals are scheduled for Monday at 7:15 .m. Eastern Time.
Thompson, who won the NCAA title for Mississippi in 2016, placed second at the 2016 Olympic Trials. But since he missed the Olympic standard by 5 inches, he didn't make the Olympic Team.
Josette Norris (Tenafly/Class of 2014) and Erika Kemp (Rancocas Valley/Class of 2013), both advanced to Monday's final (8:40 p.m) of the 5,000 meters. Norris, who has the Olympic Standard, won her heat in the first round in 15:32.58. Kemp ran 15:42.76 to advance on time as the final qualifier. Dana Giordano (Bernards High/Class of 2012) ran 16:06.18 and didn't advance.
Rudy Winkler, who competed at Rutgers as a graduate student in 2018, broke the American record in the hammer throw with a massive 271-4 to win the event for the second time. Winkler, who starred at Averill Park High School in N.Y. and was 2017 NCAA champ for Cornell, broke the American record of 270- 9 that was set by Lance Deal in 1996.
Johnnie Jackson (Cherry Hill East/ Class of 2012) placed 10th in the men's hammer throw final with a throw of 226-4.
Sean Dolan (Hopewell Valley/Class of 2019) completed an amazing redshirt freshman year at Villanova when he advanced to the semifinals of the men's 800. Dolan, a redshirt freshman this spring, finished fifth in his heat of the semi's in 1:47.16, just .20 behind the final auto-qualifier into the final.
Dolan went sub 4 in the mile twice this past indoor season when he earned All-American by placing sixth at the NCAA Indoor Championships, won the Big East 800m title, and recorded lifetime bests in the 800 (1:46.41), 1000 meters (2:24.40), 1500 (3:38.60), and the mile (3:57.20);, and qualified for his first Olympic Trials. WOW!!! How that's for a rookie season!!!!
Joe White (DePaul High School/Class of 2014) ran 1:48.57 to place fifth in his first round heat of the 800, missing a spot in the semifinals by just .08.
Dana Klein (Gill St. Bernard's/ Class of 2014), placed ninth in her heat of the 3000m steeplechase in 9:49.89 in the opening round and didn't advance.