Blewitt to throw with the U.S. best
The Ashland College senior from Boardman is ranked No. 4 in the nation in the shot put.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
ASHLAND -- If this were an Olympic year, Adriane Blewitt would be seeking a spot in the U.S. Olympic Trials.
But since the next Olympics is two years away, Blewitt's goal in the shot put in the upcoming USA Outdoor Track & amp; Field Championships is to finish in the top five.
The annual meet of America's best track and field athletes is Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Stanford University's Cobb Track and Angell Field in Palo Alto, Calif. The finals Sunday will he televised starting at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
"This is the biggest meet I have been in, kind of like the Olympic trials in the off year," said Blewitt.
The Boardman High graduate and Ashland University senior is listed with the fourth-best qualifying distance in the shot put among the 20 entries in the USA meet, with a career-best 17.18 meters or 56-4 1/4 feet.
She ranks almost 5 feet behind the top qualifier, Teri Steer (18.62 meters or 61.0736 feet), but is only 1 1/2 feet behind No. 2 Seiala Sua (17.66 or 57.9248), and just about a half-foot in back of No. 3 Kristin Heaston (17.30 or 56.744).
But Blewitt said that in the shot put, these small distances can create big challenges.
"One or 2 feet in the shot put is huge, even 6 inches is huge," said Blewitt. "It's always challenging to get a personal-best, but with the atmosphere in California and all the great athletes, [that] will serve as a motivating factor."
Won NCAA title
Blewitt enters the USA meet with strong credentials. As her junior year concluded recently, she won the NCAA Division II national championship in the shot put (55-10 1/2) and took runner-up in the discus (174-2), in competition held at Angelo State (Texas).
In the shot put, Blewitt defeated senior Heather Leverington (54-2) of Emporia State University, a five-time shot put champion, twice trading national-meet records. April Burton (49-1) of California State-Bakersfield placed third.
Before the NCAA meet, Blewitt was named the NCAA Div. II Female Athlete of the Year by the coaches of the 620 athletes competing.
She also became a three-time national champion, having won the national indoor shot put title this year in Boston and the national outdoor discus crown last year. She is an eight-time All-American.
In addition, Blewitt recently was selected to the Verizon Academic All-District IV College Division Track & amp; Field/Cross Country first team, with a 3.54 grade-point average as a physical education major.
"My goal for this meet is to have a better mark than my personal best, and be in the top five," said Blewitt, who is coached by former Olympian Jud Logan. "This is my first time in the meet. I was close to qualifying last year and the year before, but I was just short of the mark."
This year's qualifying standard for the USA meet was 51-10.
Blewitt will be accompanied to the USA meet by Logan, mother Rae Blewitt and Ashland teammate Jackie Jeschelnig, who broke the NCAA Div. II hammer throw record this year (212-9).
Steer is favored
Blewitt concedes that Steer, 26, is the clear favorite to win the shot put competition.
"She's a much more experienced athlete. I know she is going to win. She has the top throw in the nation this year. She is Olympic caliber," said Blewitt of Steer (5-foot-11, 200 pounds), a 2000 Olympian and a two-time USA indoor and NCAA shot put champion from Southern Methodist.
Regarding Sua's qualifying distance, Blewitt said, "That mark is for the indoor season, and I don't really know what she is capable of in the outdoors. She is primarily a discus thrower."
The 24-year old Sua (5-10, 238) is from UCLA; she won the 2001 USA shot put and discus titles and is the 2000 Olympic Trials DT champion.
Heaston (6-0, 275) placed third in the shot put at both the 2002 USA indoor meet and the 2001 USA outdoor meet.