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Freshman Captures Heptathlon

Johnson passes reigning champion in final event to become Arizona State's first NCAA track champion since '96.

June 11, 2004|From Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Arizona State freshman Jacquelyn Johnson used a burst of energy down the stretch of the 800 meters to win the heptathlon Thursday at the NCAA track and field championships.

The 19-year-old from Yuma, Ariz., edged defending champion Hyleas Fountain of Georgia, who held a slim lead going into the 800, the last of the heptathlon's seven events.

Johnson finished with 5,807 points, 204 more than her previous best. She had personal bests in the 100-meter hurdles, javelin and 800. Fountain, bothered by a sore right hamstring, was second with 5,785.

Johnson is the first freshman to win the heptathlon since Sheila Tarr of UNLV in 1984.

"She's awesome," Fountain said. "She's going to be doing some great things. People are going to have to watch out for her."

With the 800 remaining, Fountain led Johnson by 21 points. Johnson had to beat Fountain by 2.4 seconds to win. She finished in 2 minutes, 19.60 seconds -- 3.22 seconds ahead of Fountain's 2:22.82.

The freshman's winning surge began as she completed her final turn.

"To tell you the truth, I didn't know how far she was behind me," Johnson said, "but I just knew I had to go, so I just went.

"I got that last bit of energy. I was like 'I'm almost done. Let's just get out there. You're going to hurt, so just hurt.' "

Johnson is Arizona State's first NCAA track champion since Pal Arne Fagernes won the men's javelin in 1996.

Fountain said she's confident her injury will heal in time for the U.S. Olympic trials next month.

In the women's 100-meter preliminaries, Lauryn Williams of Miami won her heat in a wind-aided 10.94 seconds, the fastest time under any conditions in the world this year.

Williams, pushed by wind of 2.8 meters-per-second, advanced to a finals' showdown with Louisiana State's Muna Lee, who won her heat in a wind-aided 11.01 seconds. Williams, a junior, ran the world's fastest wind-legal 100 this year at 11.01 seconds at the Gatorade Classic on April 10.

In the men's 100, Marc Burns of Auburn led all qualifiers with a wind-aided 9.99 seconds. Tyson Gay of Arkansas won his heat in a wind-aided 10.01.

The NCAA games committee rejected an appeal to the disqualification of the Texas women's 400-meter relay team for using an improper exchange zone marker while winning its qualifying heat on Wednesday. The disqualification was a major blow to Texas' hopes for a team championship on its home track. With Texas out, UCLA moved on to the finals. Before the ruling, the Bruins had missed the finals by six-thousandths of a second.

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