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May 16, 2021
Lisa Wilson is April Athlete of the Month
Hammer thrower qualifies for US Olympic Trials
(Webster, MA) is the USATF-New England Athlete of the Month for April 2021. The award comes in recognition of her performance in the Hammer Throw at the Ocean State Running Spring Track and Field Series #1 in Providence, RI. On April 24th, Wilson threw 68.53 meters for an Olympic Trials qualifying mark. She also met the standard again a week later at the Jack Maloney Invitational in Connecticut, where she threw 68.15 meters.
This is Wilson’s second time qualifying for the Olympic Trials with her first qualification coming in 2016. Despite a series of injuries, Wilson qualified for USATF Indoor and Outdoor Nationals five times between 2014 and 2019.
Wilson competed collegiately at the University of Massachusetts, where she qualified for the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field East Preliminaries three times. At the time of her graduation, she held school records in the indoor shot put, weight throw, outdoor shot put, discus, and hammer throw. In her senior year, she was named the 2010 UMass Female Athlete of the Year.
At Wachusett Regional High School, Wilson was a three-sport athlete, competing in track and field, basketball, and football. She was a three-year captain of the basketball team and a two-time Super Bowl Champion with the football team. In her senior year, Wilson finished first in the discus at the Massachusetts State Championships and second at the New England Championships. She also finished second in the shot put at the state meet and sixth at the New Englands.
USATF-New England spoke with Wilson over the phone about her accomplishments.
: Many athletes stop throwing after they finish their collegiate career; what inspired you to continue competing?
After I was done with college, I had actually moved out to California to be a grad assistant coach. While I there, I went to the Olympic training center to throw in a meet just because I wanted to see what it was. I thought it was so cool. I went to throw hammer. I wasn’t very good at hammer at the time, I just decided to do it for fun, and I ended up running into my first big time coach out there. His name was Jim Driscoll; he saw me throw, he thought I had potential, and said if I was interested in being great, he would work with me. So that’s when I started throwing hammer seriously, and that’s when I actually got good at it. So, really, it was just luck and circumstance that got me to keep throwing after college.
: What do you consider to be the most important part of your training?
: Not getting injured, I would say that’s the only way you make it. I mean, I’m not old, but I’m relatively old for the sport. In the U.S. in the ranked hammer throwers, I think I am the oldest. I always got injured. That might be the reason I am peaking now because I never got to put together a season without hurting my back or other having such injuries. For the last year and a half, I was just lifting to lift, because my boyfriend is into powerlifting, so he was doing my programming. I was feeling strong, not getting hurt, so picked up a hammer for fun again, and realized I could still throw far. For the last year and a half, I’ve been pretty much injury-free.
: Is there a particular meet performance that you’re most proud of?
: I would say this past fall, I went to meet this group called 12th Rock in New York. They were hosting some meets, I had done one for fun already and threw decently - I think it was a 64-meter mark. I decided to do one more meet there on a whim right before my surgery. My boyfriend and I drove over to compete, and I would love to have done something big, but I wasn’t really expecting a big throw. When I got there, the first mark they read to me was a 68-meter throw, which they took back and said it was mismarked later. But still, every throw I took that day would have been a personal record from my previous PR in 2015 of 66 meters. It was just an incredible experience, everything was going right that day. My throws just felt great, the ball was flying far. That was kind of the decision day where I said to myself, “you should really train for the Olympic trials and see what you can do this year despite not having thrown a PR in at least four years.” It was just an emotional time since I was about to have surgery. It was amazing.
: Now that you’ve qualified for the Olympic Trials, what are you working towards now?
: I would say my major goal this year is to qualify for the finals at the Trials and try to stay in that top-eight range. Last I checked, I was No. 9 in the country. I think for my current situation, I want to crack 70 meters and to be in the finals of the Olympic Trials. I think that is very attainable.
: You played football in high school, and not many women can say that! What was that experience like for you?
: I actually played football for nine years, I started in third grade. The group of athletes and guys that I played with I knew since I was a little kid, so it was a very easy experience for me. I was always a bigger, stronger kid. I got to play with the same guys for years, I had an older brother that also played football, so going into high school wasn’t anything different. It was just me and the guys, we had always been on good teams, so it was a very fun experience. Of course, probably about my sophomore year of high school, that’s when all the guys started to grow and go through puberty, so I didn’t play as much in the games because I wasn’t growing anymore, but I think that’s one of the best team experiences I’ve had and knowing what it’s like to win because we had a really good program. Just being around successful athletes, it was a really good experience for me. It made me tougher.