US Olympic track and field trials: Former USU star Chari Hawkins 2nd in heptathlon with lifetime best

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SALT LAKE CITY โ€” Chari Hawkins has represented the United States at the world athletics championships twice, including an eighth-place finish in the heptathlon in Hungary in 2023.

But the former Utah State great has never qualified for the Olympics.

Until (most likely) now.

The former five-time All-American at Utah State totaled a personal-best score of 6,456 points to finish second in the heptathlon at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials Monday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

Hawkins, the Aggie alum from Rexburg, Idaho who competes professionally for Brooks, rode second-place performances in the high jump (1.79 meters) and shot put (14.67) to a second-place standing midway through the multi-event marathon Sunday.

After an 11th-place finish in the long jump (5.97), Hawkins more than made up ground with the second-best javelin throw of 49.28. The personal-best mark put Hawkins in second place and just 6 points behind leader Anna Hall โ€” the inspirational heptathlon leader who had knee surgery in January โ€” ahead of the 800-meter final in the multi-event.

"When I had surgery in January, it was so hard. I thought about quitting," said Hall, the world's top-ranked heptathlete last year. "But everyone around me kept saying, you're going to do it."

Hall was the only U.S. athlete to clinch an Olympic standard of 6,480 points, so Hawkins and third-place finisher Taliyah Brooks will officially have to wait for the final World Athletics Rankings to determine if they will represent Team USA at the Summer Games in Paris. The final rankings will be released July 7.

But based on the current rankings, the 12th-ranked Hawkins would advance to her first-ever Olympic bid. Final qualification will include the top three representatives from each country who meet the Olympic standard in the event, followed by the highest-ranked athletes until the field cutoff of 24 athletes is met.

Hawkins, 33, will be the first Utah State track and field alum to participate in the Summer Olympics since James Parker in Athens in 2004.

"We've had Chari Hawkins, Dillon Maggard, Ana Weaver and Bailey Brinkerhoff-Todd compete in international events for USA the past few years, but the Olympics is a whole different story and level," Utah State head coach Artie Gulden said in a university statement. "Everyone in our program is super proud of Chari now being an Olympian and wish her the best in Paris. Aggie nation will be cheering loudly for her."

One day after former BYU national champion Kenneth Rooks all-but wrapped up an Olympic bid in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase, Courtney Wayment-Smith kept her own dreams of Paris alive in the women's preliminary races.

Wayment led from the start of her heat and scarcely let up, cruising through the bell lap with a comfortable lead. The former Davis High star who runs for On cruised under the Olympic standard and finished third in her heat in 9:29.66, advancing to Tuesday's finals with relative comfort.

Nike athletes Kaylee Mitchell and Valerie Constien made a mad dash to win the heat in 9:2954 and 92:29.61, respectively. But the story of the race was Angelina Ellis, the Under Armour/Dark Sky Distance athlete who tumbled over one of the barriers โ€” and rose up to finish fifth in 9:33.11 to claim a spot in the final.

"It doesn't matter if you're 1-2-3-4-5, all get a queue. It doesn't matter what number you are," Wayment said after the prelim. "I just tried to keep everything smooth and rhythmic. It wasn't really the plan to lead, but that's what happens when you get into racing."

BYU's Lexy Halladay-Lowry also advanced to Thursday's finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a fourth-place overall finish in a personal-best time of 9:27.36.

Halladay set the pace early in the second heat, leading the main pack until the water jump on the penultimate lap. But the senior who ranks second in BYU history in event finished the final 1,000 meters of the faster heat in 2:59.25.

Former BYU standout Whittni Orton Morgan, who runs professionally for adidas, finished fifth with a season-best time of 15:05.53 in the women's 5,000-meter final. But the speedy finale featured a meet-record finish of 14:40.34 by New Balance athlete Elle St. Pierre just ahead of Nike's Elise Cranny (14:40.36) and Bowerman's Karissa Schweizer (14:45.12).

Morgan was just behind Florida's Parker Valby, the six-time NCAA champion and three-time NCAA record holder who finished fourth in 14:51.44.

Cierra Tidwell Allphin, the six-time All-American high jumper at BYU, wrapped up her stay with a ninth-place finish in the women's high jump finals after clearing a mark of 1.78 meters (5-10).

Athletes have two rest days until resuming the U.S. Olympic trials Thursday, which will include the women's steeplechase final.

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