NJ's Orji Makes 3rd And Final Olympic Team, Murphy Advances

 Keturah Orji, the greatest triple jumper in U.S. history, made her third and final Olympic Team and Liam Murphy once again displayed his superior closing capability to advance to the men's 1500-meter final to highlight NJ action at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Saturday night at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

The 28 year-old Orji, who has announced that she will retire after this season, seemed to be on the verge of winning her seventh U.S. Outdoor TJ title and the 11th overall in her career (she's won four indoors), as she held the lead through the first five rounds.   

But in the sixth and final round, Jasmine Moore came up with a 46-9.50 to rally to win the title. Orji responded with her best jump of the competition with a 46-8, just short of Moore's winning mark.

The runner-up finish by Orji, who graduated from Mount Olive High in 2014, secures her a berth on her third Olympic Team.

Orji, the American record holder in the triple jump with the 48-11she leaped in 2021 in Chula Vista, California, is the first U.S. woman to ever make the U.S. Olympic Team in the triple jump three times.

She was fourth in Rio in 2016 and in 2021, Orji placed seventh in Tokyo. Orji has also competed at three outdoor Worlds and four under cover. At the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow this past March, Orji again narrowly missed the podium, placing fourth.

No U.S. woman has ever medaled in the TJ at the Olympics. Can Orji become the first when the Olympics Games are held in Paris from Aug.1-Aug. 11. That certainly would be an amazing way to finish her legendary and historic career.


Liam Murphy did it again.

For the second straight day, Villanova's Murphy closed faster than anyone else when he dropped a 39.17 over final 300 and unleashed his trademark lethal kick as he swung wide over the final straight and blasted past several runners to finish second in his 1500 semifinal heat in 3:38.08. Murphy's finish locked up a spot in the final, which is scheduled for Monday at 8:47 p.m.

Murphy, the first Villanovan to qualify for the men's 1500 Olympic Trials final since 1988, was in 11th place in his 12-runner semifinal with 300 to go before he cranked it up. 

The 39.17 split by Murphy, a 2020 graduate of Allentown High, wasn't just the fastest of his heat, it was the quickest among all 25 runners who raced in the two semifinals combined.

When Murphy's concluded his frenetic finish, he celebrated by fist bumping with Ethan Strand of the University of North Carolina as the two crossed the line with identical times. If the 12-runner final is a tactical race, look out for Murphy.    


Jenna Rogers of the University of Nebraska (Rutherford High, Class of 2020), cleared 6-0 in the opening round of the women's high jump to advance to Monday's final at 8:15 p.m. 


Josh Awotunde (Delsea High, Class of 2013) popped a big throw of 71-5.25 on his final attempt in the men's shot put, but it wasn't enough to get into the top three and make his first Olympic team. Awotunde, who finished third at the World Outdoor Championships in 2022, wound up in fifth-place. He was also fifth at the 2021 Olympic Trials.

Jordan West (Rahway High, Class of 2017) finished 11th in the men's shot put with a 64-8.   

English Gardner (Eastern High, Class of 2010), who ran on the Olympic gold medal winning 4x100 relay in Rio in 2016,  failed to advance to the final of the women's 100 dash after running 11.31 in the semifinals.