On Sunday, Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star released the Top 100 sports figures of 2011 list.
Credited with overseeing Arizona's throwers, Craig Carter begins his seventh season as a member of the Arizona staff. Since arriving in Tucson for the 2006-07 season, he has changed the face of collegiate throwing on the national and conference scene.
In 2012, Carter guided Julie Labonté to All-America status at the NCAA Indoor Championships. She took third place with a toss of 58-2.5 in the women's shot put. Labonté also won her third-straight Mountain Sports Pacific (MPSF) Championship. Labonté redshirted the outdoor season in order to prepare for the 2012 Olympics. Labonté won gold medals in the shot put and the discus at the Canadian Olympic Trials, punching her ticket to London. (She would only compete in the shot put at the Olympics; she did not meet the Olympic "A" Standard in the discus.) Labonté was the first track and field athlete in Arizona history to represent Canada in the Olympics. In the preliminary round of the Olympics, Labonté took 22nd place with a toss of 57-4.25.
Carter also coached Baillie Gibson and Alyssa Hasslen at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Gibson finished in 12th place in the discus and ninth place in the shot put. Hasslen earned a sixth-place finish in the women's shot put. Hasslen set the second-best mark in the country during the 2012 collegiate season, posting a personal-best mark of 60-2.5. Hasslen's toss ranks as the second-best mark in Arizona history and the 14th-best throw in collegiate history.
Carter led Tyler Johnson to All-American status during the 2012 season. Johnson took eighth place at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, becoming the first Wildcat to earn All-America accolades in the men's hammer throw since 1997. Johnson's personal-best toss of 213-5 is the third-best mark in Arizona history. Johnson also earned All-Pac-12 honors, taking fourth place at the Pac-12 Championships.
Taylor Bush began her career at Arizona as a sprinter but soon found out she would not be competitive at the college level in the sprints. Head coach Fred Harvey suggested she try throwing the hammer. Carter did not object and so they began training for her to compete in the hammer throw. In 2012, the final year of Bush's campaign at Arizona, she set the school record in the event, posting a mark of 209-3. She earned a fourth-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships, her third-straight All-Pac-12 accolade. At the NCAA Championships, Bush earned an 11th-place finish.
Carter is currently coaching the No. 1 female shot putter in the U.S., Jill Camarena-Williams, who is also a volunteer assistant. Since working with Carter, she has won seven indoor and four outdoor national championships. In 2011, she set the American indoor record with a toss of 65-2.25. She went on to also set the American outdoor record with her throw of 66-2.5. She is currently ranked No. 3 in the world.
In 2012, Camarena-Williams broke her own American indoor record with a mark of 65-3.75. She took fourth place at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, posting a mark of 63-9.5. Outdoors, Camarena-Williams posted the sixth-best mark in the world, throwing 65-0.5 at the Tucson Elite Classic. She took home the gold medal at the U.S. Olympic Trials, punching her ticket to London for her second-straight Olympiad. Camarena-Williams threw 59-9.5 in the preliminary round of the shot put competition. She suffered a back injury before the Olympics and was nearly unable to compete.
Named the 2011 U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association (USTFCCCA) National and West Region Women's Assistant Coach of the Year, Carter's throwers dominated the scene in 2011. Julie Labonté swept the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor titles in the shot put while setting Canadian National Records in both throwing events. She also swept the conference titles in the shot put at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Indoor Championships and the Pac-10 Outdoor Championships. Labonté set a new school record in the indoor shot put with her toss of 57-9 at the MPSF Indoor Championships.
At the 2011 Pac-10 Outdoor Championships, Carter's female throwers went 1-2-3-5-6 in the shot put, 2-3-4-6 in the discus and 5-6 in the hammer. Freshman Baillie Gibson scored valuable points in all three throwing events. She went on to earn All-America honors outdoors in the discus and shot put to go along with indoor All-American accolades in the shot put.
On the men's side, in 2011, UA throwers earned two All-America certificates and seven All-Pac-10 honors. At the 2011 Pac-10 Outdoor Champions, the men finished 2-3-6 in the shot put, with Bozidar Antunovic's runner-up finish and throw of 59-7.5 and 4-6-7 in the discus. Antunovic also won the MPSF Indoor Championship in the shot put with his throw of 58-5.25.
At the 2011 World Championships, Camarena-Williams made history as the first American woman to ever medal in the shot put at the World Championships. She marked a throw of 65-8.25 on her fourth attempt and recorded her second-best performance ever, only behind her throw that tied the American record earlier in the summer.
Camarena-Williams has competed on Team USA at the 2006 World Cup, the 2007 World Championships, the 2008 Olympic Games, the 2009 World Championships, the 2010 World Indoor Championships, the 2010 Continental Cup and, most recently, the 2011 World Championships.
Carter started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Utah State before leaving to teach and coach at the high school level. He returned to Utah State two years later to be the head throwing coach. During that time, he coached several NCAA indoor and outdoor qualifiers, 25 Big West Champions, 53 All-Big West performers and was part of five men's conference championships and seven women's conference championships. Under his direction at Utah State, Olympian James Parker was an eight-time All-American in the hammer and weight throws and an All-American in the discus throw.
An accomplished competitor in his own right, Carter was a two-time NCAA All-American in the weight and hammer throws while competing for Utah State. He was also voted Big West Athlete of the Year and was an 11-time All-Big West performer. Carter was a recipient of the Utah State University Outstanding Athlete Robins Award. Carter was given the coveted Wayne Estes Award - the most prestigious award ever given by Utah State University - to a student/athlete exemplifying all-around excellence.
Upon graduation, Carter continued competing and qualified for the USA Championships for six-straight years (1992-1997). His highest finish was seventh in the hammer throw at the 1996 Olympic Trials before retiring and focusing on coaching.
He earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Utah State University. Carter is married to Jo-Anne Bouwhuisand they have four children: Cameron, twins Mark and Makenzie and Ragan.