Tucson Elite Classic: Tucson Elite Classic: For 2 days, track takes a back seat to field events

2013-05-16T00:00:00Z Tucson Elite Classic: Tucson Elite Classic: For 2 days, track takes a back seat to field eventsDaniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Alyssa Hasslen is expecting to throw far at this weekend's Tucson Elite Classic.

She's not alone.

The two-day event that begins today attracts some of the best collegiate and professional discus, shot put, hammer and javelin throwers, long jumpers, high jumpers and triple jumpers from around the country.

Hasslen, a UA outdoor senior and indoor junior, will be competing in the Drachman Stadium meet for the fourth time. It has become one of her favorites.

"Everyone is trying to throw far and that's why this meet is so exciting," said Hasslen, an Oregon native. "You're trying to throw far but you want everyone else to throw far also.

"Not that I don't ever want everyone else to throw far, but it feels like more of a team environment. We all know each other and it's the best people in the nation, so we're all working toward bettering everyone that comes to this meet."

Hasslen is hoping to have a strong outing in the discus and shot put as she gets set for next week's NCAA regional meet in Austin, Texas, which begins on Thursday.

Hasslen is the favorite in the women's shot put on Saturday afternoon and will be competing in the women's discus both today and Saturday. She is the lowest seed in a discus field that includes four-time U.S. outdoor champion Aretha Thurmond and U.S. outdoor medalist Gia Lewis-Smallwood.

"I really enjoy competing with professionals," Hasslen said. "They're competitive but they're also there for us and want us to do better because they know we're the future of American throwing."

At the Pac-12 championships last weekend in Los Angeles, Hasslen finished second in the shot put for the third year in a row with a toss of 55 feet 9 3/4 inches and then took sixth in the discus (170-9). She earned all-conference honors in both for the fourth time in her career but wasn't completely satisfied.

"I didn't really get the marks that I wanted, so I'm hoping this week I see a little bit of improvement and take that into regionals next week and get a good mark there that takes me to nationals," Hasslen said.

She has been dealing with knee injuries all season, so she's ready to get back to her normal ways. She said she hasn't thrown near her personal bests - 60-2 1/2 in the shot put and 180-8 3/4 in the discus - this year because of the setbacks. However, she said this weekend might be a perfect time to break out.

"I've been practicing well and having really great warm-ups at meets, so I'm hoping this weekend I can have a good competition," Hasslen said. "I know that I can throw that far again and I'm getting past all my injuries so it will be really good for me mentally to have a good mark this weekend."

If You Go

• What: Tucson Elite Classic

• When: Today and Saturday, 4 p.m.

• Where: Drachman Stadium

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