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Williams Set to Throw Hammer in Eugene

June 9, 2015  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty redshirt senior Jocelyn Williams will make her NCAA national meet debut Thursday, when she competes in the women's hammer at the 2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Williams, Liberty's first NCAA national qualifier since 2013, will begin competition Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

How to Follow Jocelyn
ESPN3 will provide coverage of Thursday's field and multi events, beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern.

Live results, including throw-by-throw updates of the women's hammer, will be available throughout the meet, courtesy of Flash Results, Inc. will be on hand at Hayward Field, providing updates through the Liberty Gameday (@LUGameday) Twitter account.

Weather Report
The weather is supposed to be quite pleasant Thursday afternoon in Eugene, with sunny skies and a high in the low 80s.

About the Facility
Hayward Field, which first opened in 1919 as Oregon's football stadium, is one of the most storied track & field venues in the United States. The stadium, which boasts a permanent seating capacity of 10,500, hosted the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and is slated to do so once again in 2016.

The facility is playing host to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the third straight year, and is slated to continue hosting the event through 2021. Eugene also recently won the rights to host the 2021 IAAF World Championships at Hayward Field, which will mark the first time the event has ever been held in the United States.

NCAA Championship Event Capsule
Women's Hammer
Event Schedule: Final – Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Eastern

Liberty Competitor: Jocelyn Williams (R-Sr., Hamilton, N.J.)

How She Got Here: Williams unleashed a hammer throw measuring 198-5 on her second attempt at the NCAA Division I East Preliminary Round meet, May 30 in Jacksonville, Fla. As it turned out, that was more than enough to punch her ticket to Eugene. All 12 East Region women's hammer throwers who reached 190-0 that day advanced to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, with Williams finishing fifth.

Watching Williams: With her first NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships appearance, Williams continues an impressive run of success by the Flames' throwers. At least one Liberty thrower has competed at eight of the last nine NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, beginning when current assistant coach Clendon Henderson threw the discus at the 2007 national meet in Sacramento, Calif.

Williams is the second Liberty women's hammer thrower to advance to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Former teammate and program record holder Melinda Bendik placed 16th in 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Williams has come a long way since arriving at Liberty as a walk-on in the fall of 2010. The New Jersey native threw 141-10 in her hammer debut at the 2011 Shamrock Invitational before improving into one of the top hammer throwers in Liberty and Big South Conference history. Her mark of 200-10, which placed second at the 2015 Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships on May 16, ranks No. 2 in program history and No. 4 in Big South annals.

Williams was hampered by illness during much of the 2015 outdoor season, before beginning her incredible late-season surge with a breakthrough 199-11 effort at the April 29 Liberty Twilight Qualifier.

The 2012 ECAC women's weight throw champion and 2014 Big South women's weight throw titlist has earned a total of eight career All-Big South honors in four different events (shot put, discus, hammer and weight throw). She was the Big South women's hammer runner-up in both 2013 and 2015.

A Look at the Competition: Although the West Region boasts more depth in the women's hammer this season, the top two favorites to win the national title hail from the East. Princeton's Julia Ratcliffe is the defending national champion and reached 224-10 to win this year's ECAC title.

However, it is the third-place finisher from 2014, Bowling Green's Brooke Pleger, who tops the national performance list heading to Eugene. She threw a personal-best 228-9 to claim the MAC championship.

Kansas junior Daina Levy bears watching. She added more than 10 feet to her previous personal best at the West Preliminary Round meet, reaching 226-5. Other 220-footers in the field include DeAnna Price of Southern Illinois (222-2) and Oregon's Jillian Weir (220-4).

Track & Field News has projected Pleger as the 2015 national champion, followed by Ratcliffe, Levy, Price and Weir, in that order.

Three Big South women advanced from Jacksonville to Eugene, and all three are hammer throwers, including conference champion Marthaline Cooper of Winthrop, runner-up Williams and third-place finisher Krista Chauvin of Gardner-Webb.

The Big South's three NCAA entrants in the women's hammer ties for the most of any conference, along with the Big 12, MAC and SEC.

Williams is one of two New Jersey natives among the 24-member field, along with Alabama's Nia Barnes (West Orange).

Four of the NCAA women's hammer qualifiers are foreign athletes, including Ratcliffe (New Zealand), Levy (Canada), Kansas State's Sara Savatovic (Serbia) and Alabama's Danielle McConnell (Australia).

How the Event Will Progress in Eugene: The 24 women's hammer competitors will each take three throws, at which point the field will be trimmed to nine finalists. Those nine athletes will conclude the competition with three more throws apiece.

The top eight finishers will score points for their respective teams and earn first team All-America honors. Placers No. 9-16 will become second team All-Americans. The rest of the women's hammer throwers will leave Eugene as honorable mention All-Americans.

What's at Stake for Williams: With a personal best of 200-10, Williams will take aim at the program record of 202-7 on Thursday. Melinda Bendik set the record on May 26, 2012 in Jacksonville, Fla.

If Williams really gets a hold of one, she could qualify for the 2015 USATF Outdoor Track & Field Championships, set for June 25-28 in Eugene. The meet's minimum qualifying mark for the women's hammer is 219-9. That mark is in the range of the all-time Big South record of 220-7, set by two-time Olympian Amber Campbell of Coastal Carolina in 2004.

With a top 16 finish, Williams would join Melinda Bendik (16th place in women's hammer in 2012) as the only Liberty women's throwers ever to earn NCAA Division I All-America honors.

If Williams places inside the top eight, she would score the Lady Flames' first points at this meet since 2002, when both Heather Sagan (1,500) and Andrea Wildrick (pole vault) finished as national runners-up.