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Awesome Akela wins NCAA heptathlon

SHERRYLYN TOPPIN, [email protected]

Awesome Akela wins NCAA heptathlon

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AKELA JONES became Barbados’ first ever female individual NCAA Division 1 champion when she won the heptathlon at the Track and Field Championships today in Eugene, Oregon.

In just her second ever outing in the discipline, Jones finished with 6 371 points. She fell just short of the meet record of 6 440 points set three years ago by Brianne Theisen, but became Barbados’ first individual NCAA Division 1 champion since Obadele Thompson when he did the sprint double in 1997.

Victor Houston also won the decathlon in 1996.

The Georgia pair of Kendell Williams and Quintunya Chapman were second and third respectively, with 6 223 and 6 147 points.

With that performance, the Kansas State junior also met the qualifying standard for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China and set a new Barbados record.

In April, in her first every outing, Jones earned 6 049 points for the Barbados record and improved on that performance by 322 points.

She also jumped from 25th on the IAAF Top Lists to No. 10 in the world in the event.

Right up until the final event, the 800 metres, she was on course to set a new meet record, with several personal best performances keeping her among the top performers.

Needing a minimum of 770 points, Jones earned 700 with a time of 2 minutes 29.43 seconds. If she had been able to duplicate her personal best 2:21.62 from April, the record would have been hers.

As it stands, she has another year to tackle the record and it caps a very satisfying meet for the 20-year-old who finds herself in very good company.

Jones broke a 30-year collegiate record yesterday when she earned 4 023 points for a first-day performance, replacing the 3 942 set by three-time Olympic gold medallist Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1985.

Theisen, now Theisen-Eaton (married to Olympic decathlon gold medallist and world record holder Ashton Eaton) is the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist and holds a silver medal from the 2013 World Championships. She is world leader with 6 808 points. 

On Monday, Jones, head coach Cliff Rovelto and fellow athlete Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye received Division 1 Outdoor regional awards from the United States Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association.

Jones and Otuonye were named female and male Midwest Field Athlete of the Year, respectively, and Rovelto Midwest Women’s Coach of the Year.  

Akela’s Heptathlon Profile

Event              Mark                Points

100M Hurdles   13.10 seconds (0.9 wind) 1 109

High Jump      1.84 metres       1 029

Shot Put         14.85 metres     851

200 Metres    23.45 (3.2 wind)    1 034

Long Jump     6.53 metres (3.3 wind)   1 017

Javelin           38.13 metres         631

800 Metres     2:29.43 minutes    700