Penn State

Former PSU athletes qualify for Olympics

Former Penn State standout Joe Kovacs reacts during the men’s shop put final at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, Friday, July 1, 2016, in Eugene Ore.
Former Penn State standout Joe Kovacs reacts during the men’s shop put final at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, Friday, July 1, 2016, in Eugene Ore. AP photo

Penn State has two more alumni heading to the Olympics.

Former Nittany Lions Joe Kovacs and Darrell Hill finished second and third, respectively, in the shot put at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials to earn spots for the summer games.

Kovacs moved into second place on his final attempt with a throw of 72 feet,  3/4 inch at the national meet at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field. Hill’s top attempt was a personal-best 70 feet, 11 3/4 inches. Both will be making their first Olympics.

Kovacs entered the meet with the top throw in the world at 72-7 1/4.

Ryan Crouser, of Texas, won the meet at 72-6 1/2.

Just missing out was former Penn State assistant coach Ryan Whiting, a 2012 Olympian, who finished fourth at 68-6 1/2. Hill, Kovacs and Whiting sat 2-3-4 in the standings from the first round of throws in the finals all the way to the final round.

In the afternoon preliminaries, Kovacs was second at 68-1, Hill was fourth at 67-5 1/2 and Whiting was 11th at 65-6 1/4 as the top 12 finishers made the final round of six throws.

In the first round of races in the 800-meter run, a trio of Nittany Lions advanced to the semifinals.

Brannon Kidder finished third in his heat and third overall with a time of 1 minute, 46.22 seconds. In the next heat, Lions took the top two spots with current Penn Stater Isaiah Harris first in 1:47.60 and former Lion Casimir Loxsom next in 1:47.76. They are sixth and ninth, respectively, in the overall finish.

The top three from each of the four heats, and the next four times, advance to Saturday’s semifinals.

The Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro from Aug. 5-21.

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