Brown Trafton captures another national title in the discus

Stephanie Brown Trafton is a national champion once again.

The Arroyo Grande High and Cal Poly graduate won her second discus national championship in three years Thursday at the USA Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Meanwhile, former Cal Poly star Maggie Vessey advanced to the semifinals of the women’s 800 meters, former Cal Poly star Ben Bruce advanced to the finals of the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase and Oregon sophomore Jordan Hasay, a former Mission Prep star, squeezed into the finals of the women’s 1,500.

Brown Trafton, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, won the national crown with a throw of 207 feet, 10 inches. That came on her first throw of the competition. After that, she had two fouls, one throw that measured 200-11 and two under 200 feet.

“That’s kind of my pattern, I won the Olympics on my first throw and I won today on my first throw,” Brown Trafton said in a statement released by USA Track & Field. “It puts pressure on others.”

“I wanted to have an awesome meet and the first throw made me feel good. I had to dig deep in the end and finish.”

Areatha Thurmond gave Brown Trafton a late scare when she threw 206-3 on her final attempt and finished second. Gia Lewis-Smallwood was third at 198-7.

“Aretha’s last throw, I don’t how far it went, but it was far. She was sixth and she bettered her last throw,” Brown Trafton said.

Hayward Field has been a good venue for Brown Trafton. She finished third there in the 2008 Olympic Trials to make her second straight Olympic team, and then won her first national crown in 2009 at the storied University of Oregon stadium.

The top three finishers in each event at the U.S. meet qualify for the World Championships in Daegu, Korea, which will be held Aug. 27 through Sept. 4, provided they have met the World Championships automatic qualifying standards. Brown Trafton has an automatic qualifying standard and entered the U.S. meet ranked fifth in the world with a season-best of 210-4 set in Maui in April.

At the World Championships, Brown Trafton will be seeking to bounce back from a disappointing finish at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin when she squeaked into the finals on her last throw and then finished 12th in the finals.

In the women’s 800 opening round, Vessey won her heat in a time of 2 minutes, 4.71 seconds to advance to today’s semifinal round.

Vessey was fourth at the 2009 U.S. meet but advanced to the World Championships when she reached the automatic qualifying that year and other runners who finished ahead of her at the U.S. meet did not. At the world meet, Vessey finished seventh in her semifinal heat and did not make the final. She also finished second at last year’s U.S. meet.

Bruce, who was second at last year’s U.S. meet, easily advanced to Saturday’s final by winning his semifinal heat in 8:40.62. Bruce, who is seeking to make his first World Championship team, had the fourth-fastest time overall, and was just off the top qualifying time of 8:40.33 turned in by Kyle Alcorn.

“It went just like anyone could have wished out of a preliminary race,” Bruce said in a USA Track and Field statement. “The key is to qualify without any issues.”

Hasay was the 12th and final qualifier for the women’s 1,500 final, which is Saturday. She finished sixth in her heat in 4:14.85, and edged Lauren Hagans by 0.01 seconds to reach the final. Christin Worth had the fastest time at 4:08.32.

Hasay, a four-time U.S. junior champ in the event, made the senior 1,500 final for the first time since advancing to the 2008 Olympic Trials final as a 16-year-old.

“I’m tired after the long (college) season, I did the best I could,” Hasay said in a statement released by USA Track and Field. “The crowd really helped, it was a good race. I’m happy I’m still through, but I don't know how much more my legs can handle.

“I’m excited to be moving on, but this is all good experience for me. I know what to do for next year. I’m happy to be doing this meet.”

In the U.S. junior meet — for those 19 and under — running concurrently with the senior meet, Abrianna Torres is in 12th place in the women’s heptathlon with 2,858 points after the first day.

Torres, who graduated from San Luis Obispo High a week ago today, had the fourth-best shot put mark (35-6 3-4), the 10th-best high jump (5-3), the 16th-best 200 (26.51) and the 18th-best 100 hurdle time (15.44). Torres, who is headed to Colorado in the fall, will conclude the heptathlon today with the long jump, javelin and 800. Earlier this month, she finished second in the long jump at the CIF State Track and Field Championships.