Groves makes All-American; Smith races into 400 final

Saturday, June 14, 2008

DES MOINES, Iowa — Former Scott City High School star Loren Groves felt relief after earning one All-American award and nearly a second Friday.

Groves had a throw of 210 feet, 4 inches to earn fifth place in the hammer throw at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium.

The Kansas State junior nearly became a double All-American in the discus. Groves finished ninth, one spot out, with a throw of 161-6.

"I'm still really happy with my fifth place," Groves said. "I'm glad to get through it."

Fifth is Groves' highest finish at a national meet and comes in her first appearance at the outdoor meet.

Southeast Missouri State senior Miles Smith assured himself of his fifth All-American honor in the 400 meters. He ran the semifinals in 46.11 seconds to earn the eighth and last spot in today's final.

"It's all about making it through the rounds," Smith said. "I'll take whatever I can get tomorrow."

LeJerald Betters of Baylor had the best time of 45.12 seconds.

Smith, whose season-best time is 45.67 seconds, has been battling a hamstring injury since hurting his leg at the Ohio Valley Conference meet May 3. The hamstring once again was a problem in the semifinals.

"I was praying that my hamstring wouldn't go out on me," Smith said. "My hamstring is in the worst condition of my whole career."

Smith held off Sacred Heart's Arman Dixon and Nebraska's Lukas Hulett for third place in the first heat. The top three in each heat moved on.

"I had to make sure the later part of my race was my best," Smith said. "A lot of the pressure's off now. Now all I have to do is go out and run."

Groves was under pressure Friday right from the start in both the hammer throw and discus. She fouled on her first two throws in both events.

She came through with legal third throws in both events to advance.

"It's never happened to me all season," Groves said of fouling twice to start a session. "I tried to relax and clear my mind. I knew all it takes is one throw."

Groves' best throw in the hammer was her fourth, which was an improvement on her third throw by about 3 feet. Eva Orban of Southern California won the event with a throw of 225-5.

Groves and the seven other All-Americans in the hammer had just enough time to receive their awards before they were escorted to the discus area.

"It was really rushed," Groves said. "It was exhausting mentally and physically.

"I didn't throw very well, but it [discus] was a bonus round. This was more of an experience year. Next year for sure I'm looking for double All-American."

Groves, whose parents Jeannie and David were on hand to watch, said she will enjoy her accomplishment for a day or two before her focus turns to the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., in two weeks.

"I'm going to eat some ice cream and celebrate," Groves said.

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