One and a half inches isn't a whole lot, but for St. John's senior discus thrower Gina Lomonaco, it meant a world of difference. That slim mark meant qualifying for the NCAA finals or not.
Lomonaco's throw of 165-feet, three inches at the NCAA Championships this past weekend at Wallace Wade Stadium on the campus of Duke University in Durham, N.C., placed her in the top nine for most of the competition. If Lomonaco kept her place, she would have advanced to the NCAA finals.
Instead, she was upended on the final toss of the day, which landed just one and a half inches better than her toss. She finished fifth place in the flight and 10th overall.
"I showed I was able to compete well, but I came up short because of the physical preparation," she said. "It's discouraging because I knew I would improve in the finals."
Lomonaco qualified for the NCAA tournament based on her first throw of the year, 174-10 at the Stanford Invitational in March. She was seeded 15th in the nation in the discus in the NCAA Championships.
But then Lomonaco, who also qualified for the NCAA Championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998 before red shirting in 1999, partially tore the adductor muscle, which runs from the back of her knee to her groin. She was sidelined for seven crucial weeks.
When she returned, Lomonaco was still not 100 percent and her preparation was severely limited. Instead of about 1,300 throws a month, Lomonaco was down to just 400 and she had just six days to prepare for the NCAA Championships.
"It was not a bad performance," said St. John's head track coach Jim Hurt. "She did a great job considering she hasn't thrown in six weeks. Despite having a limited time to get ready, she really did a nice job."
But the NCAA Championships do not mean the end of Lomonaco's track and field career. She is determined to reach the major distance of 175-6, which is good to qualify for the Olympic trials on July 14 in Sacramento, Calif. Lomonaco, who is currently five inches off that mark, is going to compete in a few more meets in New Jersey, another in North Carolina and possibly a few on the West Coast to try and reach that mark. If not, there is always the 2004 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah to get ready for.
"I love to throw, I love track and field," she said. "It's a tremendous part of my life. I was scared to compete my first couple of years, but I've made a mental breakthrough and I feel I can keep going. This is only the beginning."
©2000 Community News Group
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