It took just six words from the public-address announcer to sum up the dominance of Jacquelyn Johnson at the Pac-10 track and field championship at Sun Angel Stadium on Saturday: “This is going to take awhile.”
Simply announcing Johnson’s hepthathlon point total did not do the Arizona State senior justice; superlatives had to be attached. A school record. Stadium record. Pac-10 record. The best score by a collegian in 13 years.
Johnson’s 6,307 points — a victory margin of 542 — earned her a third conference title and built momentum for the NCAA championship meet in mid-June and the U.S. Olympic Trials June 27-July 6. The total is the highest in the world this year, eclipsing the 6,143 scored by Johnson in April.
“The best thing is that I improved in each event over my last heptathlon,” said Johnson, a three-time national champion. “That set a good tone. Coming into the second day, if I could do well in the long jump and the javelin, I felt that I could score 6,200.”
Johnson started Saturday by achieving personal bests in the long jump (6.3 meters) and javelin throw (48.5 meters). She played it slightly safe in the last event, the 800-meter run, but still placed third in 2 minutes, 19.33 seconds.
“The focus that she has had since the first workout this year has been remarkable, and it continues to get better,” ASU coach Greg Kraft said.
“There are no words to describe her anymore. She’s just relentless out here.”
This weekend’s portion of the Pac-10 meet featured the heptathlon and men’s decathlon; the remaining events are on Friday and Saturday.
Brianne Theisen of Oregon finished second with 5,765 points; Shana Woods of Southern California was third with 5,474. Nia Ali of USC, who was considered the biggest semblance of competition for Johnson going into the meet, was forced to withdraw due to a leg injury.
Ashton Eaton of Oregon claimed the decathlon with 7,604 points, and Rickey Moody of Washington State was second with 7,305. Kyle Hitchcock of ASU was 10th with 5,846 points.
Johnson had the extra motivation of running in front of family and friends on Saturday. The small gathering at Sun Angel Stadium chanted “A-S-U!” and cheered for the Yuma High School product as she approached the finish line in the 800.
“That helped out a lot,” Johnson said. “The people closest to me don’t get to see me do this too often. To have the Pac-10 meet at home my senior year was a blessing. It was neat to hear my name out there.”
Johnson’s plan for the summer is to have friends and family — and the rest of the world — able to watch her compete at the Olympics in Beijing.
“I’m right on schedule,” Johnson said. “Things are going really great, and I’m healthy. I can’t ask for anything better.”