Josh Awotunde is headed back to the World Championships after a clutch bomb propelled him into a second-place finish in the men's shot put at Sunday's U.S. National Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
Awotunde, a 2013 graduate of NJ's Delsea High who starred at the University of South Carolina, was in sixth place when he unloaded a massive 72-6.25 on his fourth attempt, the fourth best throw of his career. That moved Awotunde into second-place behind Ryan Crouser, the world record holder and 2-time Olympic gold medalist. Crouser, who led at the time with a 74-10 ½, extended his lead with a 75-0 final attempt.
Awontunde, whose 72-6.25 is just off his personal best of 73-1.50 that he threw to place third at the World Championships last year, had a series of 67-5.50, 69-11, 69-11.50, 72-6.25, 71-8, and 71-8.25.
By placing second, Awotunde, third at the World Championships last July when the U.S. produced a historic 1-2-3 sweep in the shot put at Hayward Field. earned another spot in the World Championships, which will be held August 19-27 at the National Athletics Center in Budapest, Hungary.
The U.S. will send four men to the World Championships in the shot put. Crouser automatically qualified because he's the defending champion, and Awotunde, third-place finisher Payton Otterdahl, who threw a PR of 72-5.75, and Joe Kovacs, fourth with a 71-10.25, will represent the U.S. Kovacs is a 2 time World Champion (2015 and 2019), is a 2-time silver medalist at the Olympics (2016 and 2020), and he was second at the World Championships last year.
Awotunde's performance capped a spectacular weekend for New Jersey athletes at the National Championships as seven Garden State natives qualified for the World Championships, including four champions!
Athletes who graduated from high school in NJ who qualified for the World Championships
Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone - She won the women's 400 in a world-leading and meet record 48.74, No. 2 in U.S. history and No. 10 in world history. McLaughlin-Levrone, the world record holder in the 400 hurdles, also automatically qualified in the 400 hurdles because she's the defending champion. It remains to be seen if she'll run both events or focus on one. She's an obvious choice to also run the 4x400 in Budapest. Could Sydney be a triple winner? Stay tuned?
Sam Mattis - He won the men's discus winner by one foot with a fifth round throw of 216-3. It's the second U.S. National title for Mattis, who also won in 2019. Mattis placed 8th at the World Championships last year and ??
Nia Ali - The 34 year-old mother of 3 ran 12.37, the second fastest time of her career (her PR is 12.34) to win the 100 hurdles to capture her first U.S. National Championships. Ali won the World Championship in the 100 hurdles in 2019 and won the silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Curtis Thompson - He unloaded a final throw of 265-6 to rally to win the men's javelin to win his third U.S. National Championship. It's the third U.S. National Championship for Thompson, who also won U.S. titles in 2018 (249-3) and in 2021 at the Olympic Trials when he won on his final throw with a 271-7!!
Keturah Orji - The U.S. outdoor record holder in the triple jump and 2-time Olympian just missed winning her seventh U.S. Outdoor Championship in the triple jump when she finished second with a leap of 47-4.25, just .25 behind rival Tori Franklin, who won with a mark of 47-4.50. This will be Orji's third appearance at the World Outdoor Championships. She finished sixth last year.
Josh Awotunde - Placed second in the men's shot put with a throw of 72.6.25 on his fourth attempt. Awotunde earned the bronze medal at the World Championships last year.
Athing Mu - The 2020 Olympic gold medalist and American outdoor record holder in the 800 earned a spot in the World Championships by placing second in the 1500 with a huge PR of 4:03.44, finishing just behind Nikki Hilz, who finished first in 4:03.10.
But Mu has already announced that she will scratch from the 1,500 to focus on defending her title in the 800. Mu, the 2020 Olympic champion and US outdoor record holder in the 800, automatically qualified for the 2-lapper because she is the defending champ.
Jenna Rogers NJ The Rutherford High graduate out of the University of Nebraska made 6-1.25 to tie for second in the high jump. In order to compete at the World Championships, Rogers has to clear the World Championship standard of 1.97 meters (6-5.50) by July 30. Her PR is 6-2.25.