EUGENE, Oregon – A field featuring every medalist from the last three global championships will set the stage for another epic shot put competition at the 2018 Prefontaine Classic.
Heading the field are 2016 Olympic Champion and Oregon native Ryan Crouser and 2017 World Champion and 2018 World Indoor champion Tom Walsh.
With those two testing the boundaries of the throwing sector, they will be joined by a stunning list of competitors so rich it also includes the last three Diamond Trophy winners as well as the farthest 20-year-old thrower ever. Every athlete in the field has a lifetime best over 70 feet, and Hayward Field’s record number of 70-plus throws is sure to grow.
Ryan Crouser thrilled last year’s Pre Classic crowd with a Hayward Field record 73-7.25 (22.43m) in his first return since winning Olympic gold at Rio. He provided more fireworks a month later to win the U.S. championships, coming from behind with a lifetime best 74-3.75 (22.65m) – the farthest in the world since 2003.
The 25-year old was on target for the Diamond League title last summer until Darrell Hill one-upped him with his own final-round heroics. Still, Crouser’s season was dominant enough to earn a second-straight No. 1 world ranking by Track & Field News.
Crouser is from an Oregon family of throwers with numerous state prep titles, national high school records and collegiate championships (dad Mitch, uncles Dean and Brian, and cousins Sam and Haley). He won World Youth shot gold in 2009, set two still-standing prep records in 2011 in the discus (237-6/72.40m) and indoor shot (77-2.75/23.54m), and won four NCAA titles for Texas (indoor and outdoor shot).
New Zealand’s Tom Walsh, 26, has the most major gold medals in the field with three. He captured the top spot in last year’s World Championships, then last weekend improved his PR with a world-leading 73-2.50 (22.31m), defending the World Indoor gold he won in Portland two years ago.
The Rio Olympic bronze medalist won the 2016 Diamond League and was runner-up in the last two Pre Classics, ranking No. 2 in the T&FN world rankings both years.
Joe Kovacs, 28, joins Crouser as the world’s only other 74-footer since 2003 and is the only man since 1990 with more than one such effort. After winning gold at the 2015 Worlds in Beijing, the American earned silver in the Rio Olympics as well at last year’s World Championships. The 2015 Diamond League winner is the only shot putter to rank among the world’s top three in each of the last four years. Kovacs won the Pre Classic in 2015 and 2016.
American Darrell Hill, 24, has made the difficult U.S. team three straight times and is still looking for his first major medal. But Hill is no stranger to this field loaded with medalists.
At the Diamond League final last August in Brussels, he was in 5th place entering the final round and responded with a massive PR 73-7.50 (22.44m) to snatch victory from Crouser.
The nearly 2-foot improvement reminded fans of another Hill achievement – at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials when he improved over 1½ feet with his first 70-foot effort.
David Storl, 26, is competing better than he has in two years. He won his third World Indoor silver last weekend for his first medal since a silver at the 2015 Beijing World Championships.
Storl, who won the World Championships in 2011 and 2013 at the ages of 21 and 23, is Germany’s third farthest ever at 72-10 (22.20m), trailing only a pair of former world record holders in Udo Beyer and Ulf Timmermann.
Tomas Stanek, 26, is the Czech Republic record holder at 72-9 (22.17m), set last month in Germany. He earned his first major medal last weekend at the World Indoor, taking the bronze he was just two inches from earning at last summer’s World Championships.
Once an All-American javelin thrower at Florida, Stipe Zunic switched to the shot put after 2013 elbow surgery, eventually becoming NCAA Indoor champion in 2015. The 27-year-old earned the first World Championships medal for a man from Croatia with a bronze last year in London.
The youngest in the field is Poland’s Konrad Bukowiecki, who will turn 21 on March 17. He won the European Indoor Championships last year and last month improved his best to 72-2.25 (22.00m) – merely farthest by any man younger than 21. This will be his second Pre Classic and third meet at Hayward Field, as he won the 2014 World Junior (now U20) Championships.
Also from Poland is Michal Haratyk, who will turn 26 in April. He was 5th in last summer’s World Championships, just 2 inches away from the bronze medal.
|Men’s Shot Put||Personal Best|
|Ryan Crouser (USA)||74-3.75||(22.65m)|
|Joe Kovacs (USA)||74-0.75||(22.57m)|
|Darrell Hill (USA)||73-7.50||(22.44m)|
|Tom Walsh (New Zealand)||73-2.50||(22.31m)|
|David Storl (Germany)||72-10||(22.20m)|
|Tomas Stanek (Czech Republic)||72-9||(22.17m)|
|Konrad Bukowiecki (Poland)||72-2.25||(22.00m)|
|Michal Haratyk (Poland)||71-9.50||(21.88m)|
|Stipe Zunic (Croatia)||70-5.75||(21.48m)|