Amy Haapanen says she's all in for 2016. Karlee Bispo is leaning that way.
Two valley Olympic hopefuls, gathering themselves after nearly punching their ticket for the Games in London under way this week, already are charting their new course.
Bispo, the Downey High graduate and decorated four-year star at Texas, probably will swallow hard as she watches the Olympic swimming. Though she did not qualify for a final in any of her three competitions at the Trials in Omaha, Neb., she didn't miss by much.
"I can't really say right now. I'm leaning toward 'yes,'" Bispo said in reference to qualifying for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in four years. "I definitely want to make an Olympic team."
Haapanen of Manteca, the former field events MVP of the Big West Conference during her years at UC Santa Barbara, placed an encouraging fourth in the hammer throw at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.
"There is a lot of potential in me to throw farther," said Haapanen, a graduate of East Union High. "I'm looking forward to the future and I will keep training."
Both Bispo and Haapanen performed admirably at their respective trials.
Bispo, 22, will return to Austin next week to complete her remaining courses and receive her degree. Since the swim trials, she has relaxed at home with her family and reflected on an already busy year.
Before the trials, Bispo ended her collegiate career as one of the most decorated swimmers in Texas school history. She earned 18 All-American honors and won 18 Big 12 Conference titles. The two-time Academic All-Amercian was named the Big 12 Swimmer of the Year in 2011 and the Texas Women's Athlete of the Year in 2012.
Bispo carried some momentum into the trials in Omaha despite some issues she could not control. Texas fired women's swim coach Kim Brackin soon after the end of the season, leaving Bispo to train for the trials under men's coach Eddie Reese.
"The training and weightlifting were different, but I was happy with my decision to be pushed by the boys," she said. "I don't think there was enough time working out with him to have a huge impact."
In the 50-meter freestyle, Bispo clocked a 25.88 and placed 33rd overall. She qualified for the semifinals, however, in both the 100 and 200 free. In the 200, she posted a lifetime best 1:59.03 and missed a berth in the final by only .4.
The 100 was even closer. She placed ninth in 54.63, a drop of nearly a half-second over her previous best, but still .03 shy of a finals spot with the top eight.
Worse for her, the top six in both the 100 and 200 advance to the Olympics and form the American's pool of swimmers for the relays. In the other events, only the top two qualify.
Which means Bispo missed a trip to London by an even closer margin than the stopwatch suggests. Not surprisingly, she took home some disappointment.
"I thought I had a pretty good shot," she said. "I went through a lot of changes from the end of the NCAAs (in March). I knew it would be tough."
Haapanen, 28, returned from Eugene with renewed confidence. Her career curve continued to zoom upward in the hammer throw: 14th at the Olympic trials four years ago, fifth at nationals last year, and fourth at the trials this year with a toss of 70.63 meters (231 feet, 8 inches), a lifetime best. She broke her 70-meter glass ceiling for the first time.
She missed fourth place, claimed by American record holder Jessica Cosby, by only four inches. But it wouldn't have mattered because Haapanen did not reach the "A" qualifying standard of 71.50 (231-5).
Regardless, pulling a PR at the trials by nearly a meter resonates with serious throwers. And so it did with Haapanen.
"It's a testament to my training and coaching (she is coached by Cal's John Dagata, her coach at USCS)," she said. "When I let it go, it wasn't that great a feeling for me. I didn't realize I long I'd thrown until it cleared the 70-meter line."
The competition demonstrated the evolution of the women's hammer throw in the U.S. It marked the first time five Americans had topped the 70-meter mark in a single competition. Put it another way: Haapanen's throw for fifth at nationals in 2011 (67.16) would have given her only a 10th in Eugene.
Haapanen is hungry for more.
"Now I know I have so much more improving to do," she said. "I'm doing OK but it didn't feel OK or look OK. I know I can translate my improvement into better marks."
She will give herself four years toward that end. So will Bispo
"I don't know if I had enough experience to make the team," she said. "All I can do is learn how it (not making it) happened and hope I can achieve some later goals."
Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2302.