Medal-threat women's jumpers look to make Olympic Team


Vicky Oddi
Communications Coordinator
USA Track & Field

EUGENE, Ore. - Jenn Stuczynski, Chaunte Howard, Brittney Reese and Shani Marks lead a strong contingent in the women's vertical and horizontal jumps at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field, June 27 - July 6 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

The top three finishers in each race, who have met Olympic performance standards, will earn the ultimate prize of a spot on the Team USA roster for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Pole Vault

Two-time U.S. Outdoor champion and 2008 World Indoor silver medalist Jenn Stuczynski leads the field in the women's pole vault. Already in her short career, Stuczynski has set three American records with the most recent coming at the 2008 adidas Track Classic when she became only the second woman ever to clear 4.90 meters/16 feet 0.75 inches.

America's most experienced vaulter, 2000 Olympic gold medalist and nine-time U.S. Outdoor champion Stacy Dragila is on the comeback trail and looking to make her third Olympic team. This past weekend, Dragila won the women's vault in Chula Vista with her clearance of 4.70m/15-5, her best performance since 2004.

Other contenders include 2007 Pan Am Games silver medalist April Steiner Bennett, 2004 Olympian Jillian Scwartz and 2004 NCAA Outdoor champion Chelsea Johnson. Also watch for 2006 NCAA Outdoor and 2002 U.S. Junior champion Lacy Janson.

High Jump

Chaunte Howard stormed back onto the women's high jump scene after becoming a mother in 2007. The 2005 World Outdoor silver medalist, Howard has the American-leading clearance of 1.98m/6-6 from her win at the 2008 adidas Track Classic.

Ranked among the top four in the U.S. for the past 13 years by Track & Field News, six-time USA Outdoor champion Amy Acuff is out to qualify for her fourth Olympic Team. Other athletes to watch include two-time NCAA Outdoor champion Destinee Hooker and 2005 NCAA Outdoor champion and 2004 World Junior bronze medalist Sharon Day, both of whom will be vying for a roster spot on their first Olympic Team. Five-time U.S. outdoor champion and indoor American record holder Tisha Waller also is entered.

Long Jump

2008 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor champion and 2007 World Outdoor finalist Brittney Reese is the favorite in the women's long jump following her then-world leading mark of 6.93m/22-9 set early on in the season and then matched in winning her Outdoor NCAA title.

Reese will face competition from former Rice standout Funmi Jimoh, who owns the second-best mark by an American so far this year with her personal best 6.91m/22-8 set at the 2008 Bayou Classic. Three-time U.S. Outdoor champion Grace Upshaw, two-time U.S. Indoor champion Akiba McKinney and 2004 Olympian and 2006 U.S. Outdoor champion Rose Richmond also will be in the mix.

Triple Jump

Two-time U.S. Indoor and Outdoor champion Shani Marks leads the way in the women's triple jump. She recently set a personal best in leaping to the U.S.-leading mark of 14.30m/46-11 at a meet in Chula Vista, Calif.

Not to be overlooked is veteran Tiombe Hurd, the current American record holder and the 2004 Olympic Trials champion. 2008 NCAA Outdoor and 2005 U.S. Outdoor champion Erica McLain and Shakeema (Walker) Welsch, the runner-up at the 2004 Olympic Trials also are contenders for a spot on Team USA.

For more information on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Track & Field, including status of entries and TV schedule, visit