Jessica Cobsy, a former L.A. City Section standout at both Granada Hills HS and Cleveland HS, made the Olympic Games in the hammer throw. (Photo courtesy of Kirby Lee, Image of Sport)
By Rich Gonzalez
(June 21, 2012) -- L.A. City Section 1, the rest of the state of California 0.
That's the official score after the opening day of action at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials of track and field, the qualifier meet for this summer's Olympic Games in London.
Thrower Jessica Cosby, who starred in the Los Angeles City Section before graduating from high school in 2000, earned her second straight trip to the Olympic Games after placing third in the women's hammer competition on Thursday.
Cosby's longest whirl was measured at 232 feet, 2 inches to finish six inches clear of the first non-qualifier. Although her mark was slightly further than the U.S. Olympics Trials record she established four years earlier, she only placed third this year as the Americans continue to reveal growing prowess in the event.
While Cosby is a global talent in the hammer throw, she was known more for basketball and as a shot putter during most of her high school career, which got underway at Granada Hills High and culminated at Cleveland High, both located in Los Angeles County's San Fernando Valley. As a hoopster, Cosby was a scoring and rebounding machine while earning All-L.A. City Section honors on all four years, including the two seasons after her transfer to Cleveland.
But she was very effective in the ring as well, going 45-06.50 in the shot put as a junior, when she also had two seprate knee surgeries. Cosby then unleashed massive improvement the following year to rank third nationally with a heave of 50-3.50 at the Junior Nationals, the furthest ever by an L.A. City Section athlete and a mark which still ranks 11th on the all-time California high school lists.
As a senior in high school, she placed second in the shot put at the 2000 California state meet, second at the Golden West Invitational and second at Junior Nationals before placing ninth that summer at the World Juniors. She also became the first athlete to win four L.A. City Section titles in the same event.
Cosby began to prosper in the hammer throw (an event not contested at the high school level) once she matriculated to UCLA and learned under throws guru Art Venegas. In 2001, Cosby became the first American Junior athlete to win both the shot put and hammer in the same year at the Junior Nationals.
Sponsored by Nike, she qualified for three World Championships meets during her career and has been U.S. champion in the hammer in 2006, 2009 and 2011.
The top three placers in each event at the Trials are eligible for the Olympics (the winner advances automatically) so long as each has met the Olympic Games "A" standard at some time during the qualifying window on the calendar.
Cosby, who did not hit the standard at the Trials, easily satisfied the mark when she set an American record in the event earlier this month at the Prefontaine Classic, also in Eugene. In that competition, she powered out to a lifetime best 243-5 to arrive in Beaverton as the favorite. Instead, Nike's Amber Campbell and collegian Amanda Bingson of UNLV finished ahead of her at 235-6. Campbell won the competition with a mark measured two centimeters further than Bingson.
Both the qualifying round and the finals for the women's and men's hammer competitions were contested at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., on Thursday. The rest of the 11-day meet schedule (although next Tuesday and Wednesday are off days) takes place at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.