Stephanie Brown Trafton didn’t reach the medal stand Sunday afternoon, but she was competing, and that was a triumph in itself.
A Galt resident who also helps mentor throwers at Sacramento State as a volunteer coach, Brown Trafton knew she was a long shot to win the USA Outdoor discus championship, in part because she is still rounding back into form.
The American record-holder and 2008 Olympic gold medalisttook last season off to have a child. That made Sunday memorable – on the day her daughter, Juliana, turned 9 months old, Brown Trafton finished fourth at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships with a throw of 193 feet. The day included waving to husband, Jerry, and their baby in the stands before signing autographs.
Gia Lewis-Smallwood defended her title at 216-5, the best by an American this year.
“My dream was to have my daughter with me on the podium, but we’ll come back,” Brown Trafton said, smiling. “I’m pretty happy. I’m just glad to be back.”
Still, Brown Trafton understands the bottom line in this sport, maternity leave or not. She had her best year in 2012, setting the American standard with a 222-3 effort at the London Games, and vows a return to championship form.
“I know I need to win,” she said. “It’s all about winning, for funding, for world competitive matters.”
Brown Trafton heaped praise on Lewis-Smallwood.
“Gia’s amazing, and she’s coming into her own,” Brown Trafton said. “I’m 34 and she’s 35, and you don’t see people in their mid-30s always hitting their peak. And age is a number. Except for the aches and pains. There’s more of that than before.”
Record efforts – Hornet Stadium records were broken in four events, including Lewis-Smallwood in the discus. The others: Inika McPherson in the women’s high jump (6 feet, 63/4 inches) and Duane Solomon in the men’s 800 meters (1 minute, 44.30 seconds) and Ajee’ Wilson in the women’s 800 (1:58.70).
Ringing endorsements – Jeremy Fischer is among the many hoping for a USA Championship return to Sacramento. Fischer, the personal coach for jumpers Brittney Reese, the women’s long-jump champion, and men’s triple-jump champion Will Claye, knows the venue, having competed in the high jump in the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials. Sacramento regularly bids against other cities, such as Eugene, Ore., for such events.
“We love Sacramento,” Fischer said of his view and that of his athletes. “They’ve done a fantastic job. It’s a fantastic track, a fantastic facility. We hope that it comes here many more times.”
Said 400 hurdles champion Johnny Dutch: “I love Eugene with all my heart, but it’s refreshing to run somewhere else on the West Coast. A lot of us love it here.”
Added Lewis-Smallwood: “Sacramento holds a lot of magic. It’s a wonderful place, and I’m so glad we’re back.”
Powerful pipes – Kristen Burns performed another beautiful rendition of the national anthem Sunday in perfecting her own version of a sweep double. The St. Francis High School student who also did the anthem before the Capital Shot on Wednesday.
Golden efforts – Del Oro High School senior-to-be Melissa Maneatis and Roseville’s Arturo Sotomayor were local winners in the 55th Golden West Invitational that was held at Hornet Stadum on Saturday as part of the USA Championships.
A second-place finisher in the girls pole vault at the CIF State Meet in Clovis earlier this month, Maneatis cleared 11-113/4.
Sotomayor, also a senior-to-be, won the boys 800 in 1:52.74. It was a nice recovery from not reaching the medal stand at the CIF state finals. Sotomayor will run in the Junior Outdoor Championships next month in Eugene.
Aspyn Walton of Woodcreek was second in the boys 200 in 21.97 and fourth in the 400 at 48.50. Isabella Fauria, a 12-year-old who just finished her sixth-grade year at St. Rose School in Roseville, was second in the 3,200 in 11 minutes, 9.94 seconds.
Follow the Bee’s Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.