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ASU’s Turner Washington Shines at USATF Championships

The former Sun Devil turned in a second-place finish in the discus competition on Thursday

Posted on July 7, 2023

  By Steve Ritchie, SuperWest Sports

Arizona State’s Turner Washington had the lead in the men’s discus competition at the 2023 Toyota U.S. Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, on Thursday.

Then he lost it. Then he regained. Then he lost it again.

When the dust settled, Washington finished second to Sam Mattis by exactly one foot, but with his spot on the U.S. team for the World Championships now virtually assured, Washington was all smiles afterward.

“I’m definitely still on the rise. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve really started to figure out what I’m trying to do in the (discus) circle,” Washington said. “And today I was able to execute what I wanted to do.”

The five-time NCAA champion believes his season best is still to come.

“In the coming weeks, we’ll just try to up that intensity because 65 meters won’t do anything at the world championships.”

Washington threw 65.60 meters (215-3) on Thursday, just short of the 66.22 he threw to win the NCAA discus title in June.


The automatic qualifying standard for worlds is 67 meters, but Washington believes his world ranking of 18th place will get him to Budapest even if he doesn’t hit 67 before the championships in late August.

The tight competition with Mattis continued a recent trend for Washington. At the NCAA meet in Austin last month, Washington appeared to be on his way to winning the shot put.

But then Arizona senior Jordan Geist popped a big one on his last throw to knock Washington out of first.

In the ensuing discus competition, Washington was the one flipping the script, coming from behind on his last attempt to win.

The NCAA discus win was a major upset because Washington took down Cal sophomore Mykolas Alekna from Lithuania, who is ranked third in the world.

“I beat Alekna on his off day, but any other day, 99 out of 100 he’d beat me,” Washington said with a smile. “He’s amazing. A real inspiration.”

Washington has consistently competed in the shot and the discus throughout his college career, but said he “liked the way my body feels” when he can focus on just throwing the discus.

ASU's Turner Washington | Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
ASU’s Turner Washington at USATF Championships | Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

“The shot is for bigger guys,” the 6-f0ot-5 Washington said with a grin.

His father, Anthony Washington, was a star thrower for years and won the gold medal at the 1999 World Championships in Seville, Spain.

Ironically, for all his success, Washington leaves college, though, having never won a conference title.

“Five-time NCAA champion but never won a Pac-12 title. That goes to show how important conference is,” Washington joked.

Another Sun Devil who got his US Championships off to a strong start was 400-meter sprinter Justin Robinson.

Running in the third heat of the first round, Robinson came on strong down the home stretch to win it in 45.22, the fifth-fastest time among all qualifiers for the semis.

Arizona State’s Justin Robinson | Steve Ritchie/SuperWest Sports

Utah’s Emily Venters capped her very successful 2023 season with a seventh-place finish in the women’s 10,000 meters final.

Venters hung with the small pack leading the race until the last mile when she dropped back. Her time of 32:45.37 was just 33 seconds behind winner and former Stanford star Elise Cranny.

Oregon State’s Kaylee Mitchell also had an outstanding day, placing second in her heat of the 3000-meter steeplechase.

Oregon State’s Kaylee Mitchell | Steve Ritchie/SuperWest Sports

She finished just behind 10-time US champion Emma Coburn (former Colorado standout).

Mitchell was ranked 12th coming into the meet, but her time of 9:38.15 was not only a season-best but was also the second-fastest among all qualifiers for the steeple final on Saturday.

Roisin Willis and Juliette Whittaker, Stanford’s crack freshmen duo in the 800, also impressed, as they ran 2:00.23 and 2:00.74, respectively, to move into the semi-finals with the fourth and sixth fastest times.

—More from Steve Ritchie—