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Local hammer thrower places fifth at nationals
Haapanen also earns alternate spot for international competition
Amy Haapanen trains for the USA Track & Field Championships at Modesto Junior College on June 20. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

The fifth time was the charm for Amy Haapanen.

Making her fifth appearance at the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships Saturday at the University of Oregon’s renowned Hayward Field, the 2002 East Union graduate placed fifth in the hammer throw with a 67.16-meter toss (220 feet, 4 inches).

It’s the best finish for Haapanen at nationals. She earned a medal at the event for the time and an alternate spot on the U.S. national team for the World Championships in Athletics in South Korea (August) and Pan-American Games in Mexico (October).

Her previous best effort at nationals was a sixth-place finish in 2009.

“I’m happy,” Haapanen said Monday while on her way home to Manteca. “I was able to be consistent with all my throws. I was hoping I could pull out a big PR (personal record), but it was a huge improvement over what I did there (previously).”

Haapanen’s best throw came in the second round of the preliminaries. She also hit 216-0, 218-9, 219-9 and 218-5 while scratching on her opening attempt in the finals.

Jessica Cosby (234-0) and Amber Campbell (229-10), both competing for Nike, finished 1 and 2.

Haapanen is having her best summer as a professional track and field athlete. In May, she set her all-time personal record at 67.66 (221-11) at the Tucson Elite Throwers Classic in Arizona. She was also awarded grants from the Women’s Sports Foundation and USA Track & Field Pacific Association.

“I felt more confident this year than I had been before,” Haapanen said. “I was not wide-eyed looking at all the big-time throwers. I just wanted to do what I’ve been doing all season. My goal was to at least stay close to my PR and place higher than I ever have.”

Haapanen is hoping that the best has yet to come from 2011. She plans to compete in minor meets next month and aims to reach the World Championships’ ‘B’standard entry mark of 69 meters. Any female who can hit the 71.50-meter ‘A’ standard automatically qualifies.“I’m going to keep working hard to improve and head in the right direction,” Haapanen said. “The momentum I’ve been able to create has been really good, and hoping to take it into next year for the (U.S. Olympic) Trials.”