Williams wins NCAA heptathlon title
Kendell Williams scored 5,854 points to edge San Diego State senior Allison Reaser 5,836 for the heptathlon title at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field championships late Friday.
Williams, a former Kell High School standout, became the first freshman to win an NCAA title in the event since Arizona State’s Jackie Johnson in 2004, and only the third in history.
The heptathlon’s final event, the 800, provided a frightening end to Williams’ title run. Holding her 200-point lead, Williams took off to complete her two laps, but she got tangled up on the second lap and fell to the ground. She managed to return to her feet but dropped to 20th in the 800 with a 2:28.59 for her final 711 points. This allowed the race winner, Reaser (2:12.08), to surge closer to her in the final standings.
Williams’ heptathlon crown is the first for the Lady Bulldogs since Hyleas Fountain, a 2008 Olympic silver medalist, won in 2003 and only the second in history. It is the 13th NCAA outdoor title in history for the Georgia women as the team has now won at least one in each of the last two years.
Williams also became the first competitor since Oregon’s Brianne Theisen in 2012 to sweep the NCAA pentathlon and heptathlon titles.
During the first day of the heptathlon, Williams made her presence known in the 100 hurdles by setting an NCAA championship and collegiate record. She finished with a time of 12.99 seconds, which bested the old record of 13.02 set in 1997 by BYU’s Tiffany Lott.
In the second day, Williams won her third event of the meet after tallying a mark of 20 feet, 1 ½ inches on her first of three long jumps. Her mark, which fell between the distances of her other two long jump performances this year, gave her 890 more points and extended her lead to 236 points.
The win wrapped up a phenomenal freshman year for the former Lady Longhorns star. Indoors, Williams, who was named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) National Women’s Field Athlete of the Year, set the collegiate and World Junior record in the pentathlon while claiming the 2014 NCAA title with 4,635 points.
Williams’ outdoor campaign was highlighted by being named the USTFCCCA South Region Women’s Field Athlete of the Year thanks to an American record of 6,018 set to win the Bulldog Heptathlon. She captured the SEC heptathlon title by 350 points.
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