By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

Hasslen breaks through and earns U.S.A spot

University of Arizona junior Alyssa Hasslen has had a successful collegiate career, but she finally accomplished something she has been on the verge of doing for years.

On Saturday, Hasslen, a 2009 McMinnville High School graduate, finished third in the women’s shot put at the U.S. Track and Field National Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, earning her a spot on the U.S. national team that will compete in August in Moscow, Russia at the World Championships.

Hasslen threw 59 feet, 4 ¾ inches on her fifth throw of the competition Saturday afternoon, better her previous best of the afternoon of 58-3 ¼. Tia Brooks of Nike was second with a top mark of 61-9 ½, and Michelle Carter of Nike won with an American-record throw of 66-5 (20.24 meters). Carter, Brooks and Hasslen earned spots on the U.S. track and field team that now prepares for the IAAF World Championships August 10-18 in Moscow.

Hasslen’s throw of 59-3 ¼ was a season best for her in the shot put. Her first toss was also a big season best. For her, it had to have been a relief after a sub-par throwing season (by her previous bests). During the 2012 season, Hasslen threw a personal-best 60-2 ½ in the shot put at the Mt. SAC Relays, which was the second-best mark in Arizona history. With her throw Saturday, Hasslen met the World Championships “B” Standard, which made her eligible to qualify for Team USA and compete in Moscow.

Hasslen finished her final outdoor track season at Arizona earlier this month at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene. Hasslen threw 173 feet, 3 inches in the women’s discus competition and finished in 13th place in the country. Her teammate Julia Labonte finished second with a toss of 184-6.

Hasslen also qualified for the NCAA championships in the shot put. Her first mark was 47-2 ½, but she fouled on her next two throws and failed to advance to the finals. Hasslen threw 55-9 at the Pacific-12 Conference championships May 12 to finish second to her teammate, Labonte. Hasslen was also sixth this year in the Pac-12 in the discus. She earned Pac-12 All-Conference honors in the shot put and discus for the fourth time in her career and has one more indoor season of eligibility remaining.

Hasslen was the 2012 Pac-12 runner-up in both the shot put and the discus. Hasslen was the 2011 Pac-10 runner-up in the shot put as well.

The Mac grad has performed well on the national stage vs. the country’s best professional throwers. In 2012, Hasslen competed in the Olympic trials in Eugene in the shot put. She threw 55-11 ¾ in the prelims to make the finals. She improved on her mark and threw 58 2 ½ to finish sixth. In 2011, Hasslen finished third at the U.S. track and field championships in the shot put and competed in the Pan-American games in Guadalajara. She finished seventh.

Hasslen will join a long list of athletes at the World Championships that have connections to the state of Oregon. Headlining the list of high profile track stars that qualified for Moscow is Bend native and University of Oregon alumnus Ashton Eaton, who won the men’s decathlon in Iowa to defend his U.S. title. Eaton, the Olympic gold medalist at the 2012 games in London, is the world record holder and is only one of two athletes to ever break the 9,000 point mark in the decathlon.

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