Record Book Update: Historic Heptathlon & High Jump for Akela Jones
Last June, Akela Jones of Kansas State shocked the college track & field world with her NCAA Outdoor national title in the heptathlon – in just her second career go in the event.
One year later, any time Jones doesn’t make history comes as a surprise.
So it startled no one when the record books needed all sorts of revisions following the Mt. SAC Relays heptathlon last Friday, thanks to the 6,307-point total posted by Akela.
Just the score alone has several superlatives attached to it. Sixth-best score in collegiate history, tied for the second-best regular season score (i.e. prior to the NCAA Championships) in history with Jackie Johnson of Arizona State (2007), and the best score ever posted by a collegian in the month of April. That last one? It had been held by one Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Then there’s her day one score of 4,063 points. Only one other time in collegiate history had a woman broken 4,000 points through the first day of competition (the 100 hurdles, high jump, shot put, and 200) – Akela, herself, at last year’s NCAA Championships.
Included in that day one haul was a 1.95m (6-4¾) clearance in the high jump – the highest bar ever cleared by a collegiate heptathlete. And forget about just good for a heptathlete; the mark is tied for the 10th-highest in college history and is only one centimeter shy of the NCAA Championships record set by UCLA’s Amy Acuff in 1995 and four shy of the overall collegiate record set by Brigetta Barrett of Arizona in 2013.
For the remainder of the season, Jones has officially put both the heptathlon and high jump collegiate records on notice.
Who else made some history this weekend? It’s all about the DI women, as well as a historic weekend in DII and DIII.
The center of attention in last week’s update, DeAnna Price of Southern Illinois continued her march through the record books this past weekend at the Missouri Tom Botts Invitational, recording her 10th (!) all-time top-25 throw of the year. Her winning 71.82m (235-7) effort checked in as the 10th-farthest throw in college history and it marked her fifth different meet this season that resulted in a throw farther than 230 feet (70.10m). That ties Jenny Dahlgren of Georgia in 2007 for the most ever, with almost two months of throwing left in the season.
Hannah Cunliffe of Oregon became just the eighth woman in college history to break the 11-second barrier at 100 meters, running 10.99 at the Mt. SAC Relays. She’s the third Oregon Duck in the past four years to have run 10.99 or faster at Mt. SAC, joining Jenna Prandini (10.92 in 2015) and English Gardner (10.96 in 2013).
In a dual at Providence’s Ocean State Invitational, Elinor Purrier of New Hampshire and Danielle Winslow of Boston College moved to No. 21 and No. 23 on the all-time performers list, respectively. Purrier ran 9:47.17 while Winslow crossed the line in 9:48.81.
Women’s 100-meter Hurdles
In her fastest race since winning the NCAA Indoor 60-meter hurdles title, Cindy Ofili of Michigan cleared ten hurdles to win the Mt. SAC Relays in 12.66 with a barely-legal wind of 2.0m/s for the 18th-fastest time in collegiate history. Only considering performances logged in the month of April, hers was the third-fastest ever by a collegian.
Women’s 4×100 Relay
For the second weekend in a row the Oregon school record fell to the quartet of Jasmine Todd, Deajah Stevens, Hannah Cunliffe and Ariana Washington – this time with a winning 42.68 at the Mt. SAC Relays. The time is the 13th-fastest in collegiate history, and it improves Oregon’s standing as the third-fastest school ever.
Women’s Pole Vault
Alysha Newman of Miami (Fla.) became just the sixth member of the outdoor “15-foot club” in the women’s pole vault. Two more women are knocking on the door, as both Duke’s Megan Clark and Lexi Weeks of Arkansas came within two inches this weekend. Clark came the closest with her 4.55m (14-11) win at the Mt. SAC Relays, while Weeks got over 4.52m (14-10) at the Texas Invitational. Clark now stands at No. 7 on the all-time college outdoor performers list, while Weeks is No. 8. Weeks would be the first frosh to join the club outdoors after she did so indoors this winter.
Women’s Shot Put
Defending national champion Raven Saunders of Mississippi continues to excel in her bounce-back outdoor season after her shocking upset loss at the NCAA Indoor Championships this winter. She threw 18.57m (60-11¼) to win the Texas Invitational, just narrowly missing out on her third meet with a 61-foot throw this season. Only Tia Brooks of Oklahoma (2013) has ever managed that feat in outdoor college history.
Tera Novy of Southern California became just the 12th woman in college history to crack the 61-meter (or 200-foot, take your pick) barrier in the discus with her 2016 college-leading 61.10m (200-5) to win the Cal State Los Angeles Twilight on Thursday. She joins active rivals Shelbi Vaughan of Texas A&M and Kellion Knibb of Florida State, as well as former collegian Beck Breisch of Nebraska, as the only college women since the turn of the new millennium to have surpassed the aforementioned plateau.
After unleashing a 60.36m (198-0) bomb for the third-farthest throw in collegiate history earlier this March, Texas A&M’s Maggie Malone heaved another all-timer this weekend in the Texas A&M vs. UCLA dual in Los Angeles. This time she went 59.09m (193-10) to become the first woman since Rachel Yurkovich of Oregon in 2009 to log two or more throws of 193 feet in the same season.
Meanwhile in the DII ranks, two women made moves on that Division’s all-time charts. Allison Updike of Azusa Pacific broke the NCAA DII Championships record a year ago and is well on her way to another historic spring with a 53.61m (175-10) heave at the Bryan Clay Invite for the No. 4 throw in DII history. Across the country at Wichita State, Madison Wolf of Fort Hays State went 52.06m (170-9) for the No. 10 throw all-time in DII.
Men’s 100 Meters
Lamar Hargrove of NCAA Division II Tiffin ran the sixth-fastest time in DII history with a 10.17 to win his section of the Mt. SAC Relays Invitational 100 meters and finish sixth overall. Only DII record holder Darrell Green of Texas A&M-Kingsville (1983) has run fastest among DII men in the month of April at 10.08.
Men’s 400 Meters
Stillman’s Dontavius Wright is on track for a historically fast season if he keeps up his current pace. His 45.12 at the SIAC Championships this weekend is the sixth-fastest in DII history and is the fastest-ever by a DII man in the month of April. It’s also just .02 shy of the collegiate lead held by Texas A&M’s Fred Kerley.
In a race loaded with All-American NCAA DI talent at the Mt. SAC Relays, it was Adams State frosh Sydney Gidabuday who came away the winner in 13:36.83 – good for the No. 4 time in DII history. In that same race, Johnnie Guy of Southern Indiana ran 13:39.14 for the No. 10 spot in DII history.
Men’s 400-Meter Hurdles
Not only did Cal State LA’s Khallifah Rosser take the 2016 collegiate lead with his 49.27 at the Mt. SAC Relays, but he also became the No. 7 performer in NCAA DII history.
Men’s Shot Put
Garrett Appier of Pittsburg State didn’t stop at becoming just the third DII man ever to have thrown 20 meters or farther. Nope, after his 20.03m (65-8¾) heave on just his second try, he came back moments later and went off for 20.09m (65-11). Those throws are No. 2 and No. 4 in collegiate history, giving him four of the top seven in DII history overall.
It had been a little over a month since Carsyn Koch of Cedarville had won the 800-meter NCAA Indoor title, and it appears the pursuit of a matching outdoor title is well underway. She outkicked Oregon’s Annie Leblanc in her invitational section of the Mt. SAC Relays to run 2:03.58 for a nearly two-second career-best and the No. 3 time in DII history. She becomes just the fourth woman in DII history to have dipped below the 2:04 mark.
Men’s Pole Vault
Luke Winder of North Central (Ill.) has some new bragging rights at the next family gathering with brother Jake. Luke and Jake now share the NCAA Division III pole vault record after younger brother Luke cleared 5.50m (18-½) at the Don Church Twilight Meet.
Women’s Long Jump
Amber Williams of NCAA Division III UW-Platteville just missed becoming the sixth woman in DIII history to reach 20 feet, coming in at 6.08m (19-11½ ) to win the UW-Platteville Invitational with a share of the 10th-farthest jump in DIII history.