NJ's Mattis, McLaughlin-Levrone, Ali Star At Olympic Trials

Sam Mattis virtually locked up a spot on his second Olympic team, and Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone and Nia Ali advanced to the finals to highlight action for New Jersey natives on Saturday at the U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

Mattis, a 2012 graduate of East Brunswick High and a 2021 Olympian, finished second in the men's discus with a season best throw of 216-9 (66.07 meters). Although Mattis hasn't hit the Olympic Standard of 220-5 (67.20 meters), his ranking of No. 13 in the world is more than high enough to earn him a spot on the Olympic Team, pending the official release of the world rankings on July 7.

Mattis nearly won his second straight U.S. Championship and his third overall (he also won in 2019), finishing just behind Andrews Evans, who launched his winning throw of 218-6 on his third attempt to overtake Mattis for the lead. Joseph Brown, who was in 8th place after five rounds, unloaded a clutch 215-10 on his last attempt to place third and secure a trip to Paris. Evans and Brown have both met the Olympic Standard.   

Mattis, who set the still-standing NJ high school discus record with a 218-4 in 2012, won the discus at the 2015 NCAA Championships while he was at UPenn, finished 8th at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo and was 16th at the World Championships last year. He owns a PR of 225-4.


Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, the World Record holder and reigning Olympic champ in the 400-meter hurdles, once again  ran a very smooth and controlled race when the 2017 graduate of Union Catholic easily won her semifinal heat of the 400 hurdles in a world-leading 52.58!  

The 24-year-old McLaughlin will obviously be the overwhelming favorite to capture her fourth U.S. National Outdoor Championship and make her third Olympic Team when she runs in the final on Sunday at 8:29 p.m. 

The only real question is whether McLaughlin, who won the 400 hurdles at the U.S. Championships in 2021 and 2022 and won the flat 400 last year, will take down her world record of 50.68 that she ran at the 2022 World Championships? She is the first woman to ever break 52.00, the first to ever go under 51.00. Could she become the first to go sub 50 on Sunday? I wouldn't ever bet against her. Anything is possible anytime she's on the track. 

Eight years ago, McLaughlin sent the track and field world into a frenzy, and since 2021 she's been the face of the sport worldwide.

In 2016, McLaughlin became the youngest person to make the U.S. Olympic track and field team since Carol Lewis of Willingboro (long jump) and Denean Howard (400) made the 1980 U.S. team, but neither competed in the Olympic Games in '80 because of the U.S. boycott. When McLaughlin ran in Rio, she was the youngest U.S. track and field athlete to participate in the Olympic Games since 1972 when 15 year-old Cindy Gilbert competed in the high jump.

Five years later, McLaughlin won the 400 hurdles at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021 with an Olympic record time of 51.46 and also ran on the winning 4x400 relay. She dropped her world record down to 50.68 when she won the 400 hurdles at the 2022 World Championships at Hayward Field.

What will she do next??

Don't miss Sunday's race!!!

History could be made once again by the legendary McLaughlin-Levrone!


Nia Ali (Pleasantville High, Class of 2006), advanced to the final of the women's 100 hurdles on time. Ali, the defending champion, was third in her heat (the top 2 automatically advance), but her 12.55 was fast enough to earn a spot in the final as a time qualifier. Ali's 12.55 was the 7th fastest of the nine finalists. The final is on Sunday at 8:00 p.m. 

The 35-year-old Ali has won three World Championships in her career (indoors in the 60 HH in 2014 and 2016 and outdoor sin 2019), and she captured the silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Can the veteran make her second Olympic Team?


Jessica Woodard (Cherokee High, Class of 2010) finished eighth in the women's shot put with a throw of  60-3.25.

Erika Kemp (Rancocas Valley, Class of 2013 ) placed eighth in the women's 10,000 in 32:21.84.