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Track & Field: Davis, Willis unable to make U.S. team

Bruce Brown • bbrown@theadvertiser.com • July 7, 2008  

The triple jump came down to fractions of an inch on Sunday’s final day of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, and Walter Davis was the odd man out.  

Davis, the 2005 world champion and former LSU All-American from Beau Chene High School, was trying to make his third Olympic Team and had the best jump of 55-3 in qualifying last Friday.

But on Sunday, Davis’ best effort of 56-5.25 was one centimeter, a half-inch, behind the 56-5.75 of Rafeeq Curry for the third and final spot on the U.S. roster.

The news wasn’t any better for former UL All-American and Iota High product Lawrence Willis, who placed seventh in the competition with a 54-6.50 achieved on his third attempt.

Willis entered the Trials with a career best of 55-8.

Northwestern State’s Kenta Bell, on the other hand, punched his ticket for the Beijing Olympics with a runner-up showing in the event.

Bell produced a leap of 56-6.50 on his first attempt of the day, a mark that led all competitors until Aarik Wilson came through with a 57-2.25 on his final jump for the victory.

Bell was grateful to record his best jump in some four years.

"I have had every injury that you can probably name and this is the best jump I’ve had since 2004," he said. "I am probably the oldest guy by three or four years on the runway, so to come out here and get it done is a great feeling.

"I expect to medal in Beijing. The first time I ever went to Beijing I won with the University games, so I think this is my place."

In the men’s javelin, Sulphur product Christopher Hill (4th, 244-5) and Destrehan’s Leigh Smith (5th, 243-7) were on the outside looking in behind winner Bobby Smith (249-6), runner-up Mike Hazle (248-7) and third-place Brian Chaput (248-1).

In women’s competition, former LSU star Lolo Jones stunned the field with a victorious 12.29 in the 100-meter hurdles, while LSU-ex Muna Lee added a runner-up finish in the 200 (21.99 to Allyson Felix’s 21.82) to an earlier qualifying win (10.855) in the 100.