By Doug Binder • Doug Binder • 

Hasslen headed to Austria this week for training camp

Submitted photoAlyssa Hasslen, a 2009 McMInnville graduate, competes in the NCAA indoor track & field national championships in 2011. Hasslen recently qualified for the world championships in Moscow.
Submitted photo
Alyssa Hasslen, a 2009 McMInnville graduate, competes in the NCAA indoor track & field national championships in 2011. Hasslen recently qualified for the world championships in Moscow.

Hasslen, a 2009 McMinnville graduate and University of Arizona senior, qualified to represent the the country in the biggest competition of her career last month by placing third in the shot put at the U.S. Championships.

She will throw in the qualification round of the shot put Aug. 11 in Moscow. If she advances, Hasslen will compete in the finals a day later.

Hasslen, 22, has targeted the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero has her primary athletics goal, but qualifying for track and field’s global championship in 2013 is a significant step forward.

First, Hasslen will take part in a training camp for U.S. athletes, July 28 to Aug. 4 in Linz, Austria. After that, the contingent will travel to the Russian capital.

Hasslen’s 2013 season has already had momentous highs and lows.

After placing fourth in the shot put at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March, Hasslen was not able to come up with a similar result in her final collegiate outdoor season.

She barely made the final of the NCAA West Regional after fouling two of her three throws. Then, at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, she had a disastrous meet and finished last.

“I recovered immediately after NCAAs,” Hasslen said. “As I walked off the field I told myself to learn from it and just left it all on the field. I guess it probably fueled me to get through USAs and really prove to myself that I was better than that.”

Hasslen went from 24th at the NCAA Championships to third in the U.S. Track and Field Championships in a span of two weeks. She scored a season’s best throw of 59 feet, 4 3/4 inches in Des Moines, Iowa.

Hasslen spent the time in between competitions in McMinnville with family and friends.

“I’m not sure why the pressure got to me this time around (at Eugene), but I believe everything happens for a reason,” she said. “I had a great time at home with family and stayed there until we left for Des Moines and that helped me kind of reset and put things back together.”

While she was in McMinnville, Hasslen kept training. She threw at the high school track and lifted in the weight room.

“When she was here she was hitting around that (58-59 feet) mark,” said Corey Medeiros, Hasslen’s former summer club coach since eighth grade. “She started really progressing.”

Hasslen, like all elite female shot putters, is notably strong. She bench-presses 305 pounds, though, the trait that allowed Hasslen to advance further than many of her peers in the sport is her work ethic, Medeiros said.

“One of the special things about her is how hard she works,” he said. “She has always wanted to do well and always worked really hard. When she started focusing on track she got very, very smart, very analytical. In workouts, she knows what works and what doesn’t.”

In high school, Hasslen was coached primarily by Cindy Schultz, who also had a big impact on her development.

Medeiros said he and Schultz have discussed plans to travel to Rio de Janiero so they can be there to see Hasslen at the Olympics if she makes it.

This time, Hasslen’s hometown fans will have to settle for late-night viewing on live webcasts.

“It’s neat to have someone from a small town like McMinnville doing so well,” Medeiros said.

One of the best moments for Hasslen since qualifying for the team has been the shipment of U.S. team uniform apparel that arrived at her door.

“The gear is awesome,” Hasslen said. “This is my fourth (U.S.) team and each time I’m still so excited. This time, especially, because this team means a bit more than all of the others. It’s also last year’s (uniforms) from the Olympics so that makes it pretty special.”

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