Haley Crouser says watching, waiting "nerve-wracking" during javelin qualifying

Haley Crouser OR during javelin qualifying Friday, where she finished 11th to make Sunday's final. Robert Rosenberg/ESPNHS


EUGENE, Ore. -- Haley Crouser joined high school field event performers Shelbi Vaughan, Sean Keller and Gabby Williams by advancing out of the qualifying round at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on Friday at Hayward Field.

The junior from Gresham (Gresham, Ore.) was disappointed by her three preliminary round throws -- with a best of 165-7 -- and figured there was a strong possibility that her Trials competition was over.

But Crouser found her coach and father, Dean, and sat in the stands to watch the second flight of throwers. If five of the 12 women threw better than 165-7, she was out. But only three surpassed her.

"It was so nerve-wracking," Crouser said of the wait. "I was so nervous it was ridiculous. I'm relieved, because I didn't throw as well as I'd like to."

Crouser, of course, is the U.S. high school record holder at 181-2. And she's been chasing that mark ever since.

"I want to be in the mid-180s by now," she said.

Crouser is no stranger to the Olympic trials or to Hayward Field. She attended the 2008 trials in Eugene and saw first-hand what the event looks and feels like. Last Sunday, her older brother Sam launched a 10-foot PR and earned a silver medal for placing second (although he was about four feet shy of making the Olympic team). Haley had competed at Hayward Field three times already this spring, including the Oregon high school championships.

And she and her parents stayed Friday night in Sam's off-campus apartment, one of the perks of having a family member who attends the University of Oregon.

But when it came time to throw, Crouser wasn't able to summon the marks she knows she's capable of. The Olympic A standard is 200-1, a mark would seem light years away. But with the World Juniors Championships coming up in Spain, and a cultural exchange trip to Finland (including a competition), Crouser still has worthwhile competition plans this summer.

Still, Crouser is hopeful that with a second chance on Sunday she can leave her imprint on the trials and do something memorable for the crowd.

"We might have to switch up my (runway) approach," she said. "We'll see on Sunday."