Rivera Headed for Olympic Trials in Javelin

Sophia Rivera makes the throw that qualifies her for the Olympic trials. (All photos by Steve Bowman)
Sophia Rivera winds up for the throw that qualifies her for the Olympic trials. It took place at the Brentwood Invitational on Monday afternoon at BHS. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

She shatters her previous best by over 4 feet at home meet

 
By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Email: bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

Brentwood High School senior Sophia Rivera has qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in the javelin.

Rivera ripped a throw of 180 feet and 4 inches at the Brentwood Invitational early Monday evening, April 18, exceeding the Olympic trials qualifying distance by 3 feet 2 inches. Any U.S. woman who throws the javelin at least 177-2 this year automatically qualifies for the Olympic trials meet to be held July 1-10 in Eugene, Ore.

Her winning throw was certified at the Brentwood meet by Missouri State High School Activities Association official Frank Greco. The throw was first measured at just over 179 feet. After he arrived a few minutes later to verify the distance with a steel tape measure, he announced it was 180-4.

“It came out of my hand and I knew it was good, it was just right down the center,” Rivera said. “It felt really really pretty. The first thing I heard that gave me any indication was the [BHS] athletic director, Dr. [Steve] Ayotte, who marked the throw. He was like, ‘That’s it, that’s it.’ … It’s a feeling you can’t really describe, to know that one of your dreams, one of your goals is coming true. It’s crazy and, that second, my mom was there, my coach was there, all my friends were here to watch me. It was amazing.”

The U.S. Olympic trials determine which Americans represent the U.S. in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August. Rivera had tentatively qualified for the trials by throwing 176-3 at the Affton Invitational on April 13. It broke her into the top 20, though she might have been bumped out of qualifying if enough women threw farther than she did during the spring outdoor track season. But her 180-4 guarantees her an invitation to Eugene.

Sophia Rivera's throwing coach Ron Eichaker cracks with emotion after seeing her record-breaking mark in the javelin.
Sophia Rivera’s throwing coach Ron Eichaker cracks with emotion after seeing her record-breaking mark in the javelin throw. Eichaker has coached her since she was in the seventh grade. He is a former Olympic qualifier in the javelin.

Rivera’s record throw on Monday was her third attempt. She threw 174-9 and 172-8 before the 180-4, then declined her fourth turn to throw. She also won the girls shot put and discus throw.

Rivera has been steadily improving in the javelin. She threw 175-10 at the Brentwood Invitational last year. This season she threw 160-6 on April 2 at the Centre Invitational in Kentucky, which ranked her 28th among all U.S. throwers in high school and college. The 176-3 on April 13 in Affton broke her into the top 20. Her new best of 180-4 improved her mark by 4 feet 1 inch.

The Spirit will post a full article on the Brentwood Invitational this week when results become available.

During a "senior night" ceremony midway through the Brentwood Invitational, it was announced that Sophia Rivera's jersey would be retired and hung in the school. She stands with her parents Edwin Rivera and Michelle Hassemer.
During a “senior night” ceremony midway through the Brentwood Invitational, it was announced that Sophia Rivera’s jersey would be retired and hung in the school. She stands with her parents Edwin Rivera and Michelle Hassemer.
Rivera poses with family and friends after the meet.
Rivera poses with family and friends after the meet.

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