Olympic Trials Women’s Heptathlon — Huge Improvement For Annie Kunz

A 21-4 in the long jump was a PR by 7½ inches as Annie Kunz had her day of days. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

A 550-POINT PR catapulted Annie Kunz into exceptional territory. Her 6703 score — a total exceeded in the meet only by WR holder Jackie Joyner-Kersee — also topped a thrilling competition.

Despite oppressive heat, the 28-year-old Kunz, whose NCAA high while at Texas A&M was a 9th, had a dream meet. But she needed virtually every point to hold off favored Kendell Williams and Erica Bougard in the closest U.S. top-3 in event history, with just 36 points separating the first trio of Americans ever over 6600 in any meet. Williams PRed at 6683, just ahead of Bougard’s 6677, her second-best ever.

100 Hurdles: No one knew Kunz belonged in the fastest section. She clocked a best-ever of 12.95, aided by a 2.4mps wind and her first sub-13 time. Taliyah Brooks, who cooked a 12.61 PR earlier in the prelims of the open hurdles, was fastest at 12.85. Michelle Atherley, a Miami senior, was next fastest with a PR 12.91. Bougard (12.92) and Williams (12.95) skimmed over with good times.

High Jump: Kunz and Brooks were among a large group who PRed, Kunz at 5-11¼ (1.81) for her outdoor best and Brooks at 6-½ (1.84) to match her all-time high. Also jumping well, just off PR level, were event leader Bougard (6-1½/1.87) and Williams (6-½/1.84). After two events Bougard led Brooks by 27.

Shot: During the year Kunz had shown immense improvement with the ball, regularly surpassing 50ft (15.24). She took the overall lead with a near-PR 51-7¼ (15.73) and ’19 NCAA champ Ashtin Mahler followed with a PR 46-8¼/14.23. Bougard was solid at 40-7½ (12.38), while Chari Hawkins (45-5¼/13.85) climbed into 2nd, 123 points behind her.

200: Once again Kunz should have been in the fastest section. She flashed her first-ever sub-24 time, 23.71, to maintain the overall lead, while Atherley PRed in 23.45. In the fast section Brooks led with a windy 23.10, an all-conditions best as Williams (23.51w) narrowly missed hers just ahead of Bougard (23.56w).


Day 1 totals: Kunz 4042, nearly 100 points in the lead and on pace to achieve the 6420 Olympic Q; Brooks 3946, also on standard pace. Williams 3924 and Bougard (3912) — the only two already with Q’s — followed and were looking at scores in the 6600-point range.


Long Jump: The event matched the heat. Williams, who had joined the 7-meter club in April, led everyone at 22-1w (6.73). Kunz followed with a big PR at 21-4 (6.50), the same mark for Bougard. Pace-wise, the top 3 of Kunz, Williams and Bougard were flirting with 6500–6600, with Brooks next at 6300–6400.

Javelin: The spear had an unanticipated effect. Brooks collapsed after a warmup toss and was carted off, casting a somber mood in the unrelenting heat. We’ll never know if she could have kept pace with the lead group as the entire meet was suspended for 4-plus hours, during which Brooks was granted an appeal to attempt her throws before ultimately withdrawing.

Eventually, the leading trio all PRed, Kunz at 147-10 (45.06), with Williams (155-6/47.41) doing so twice to take the overall lead by just 2 points over Kunz at 5816. Bougard was 3rd at 5716 as all three realistically could reach 6700, a total only Bougard had previously achieved (6725).

800: Kunz finally earned a spot in the fast section. Atherley set a blistering pace in running a PR 2:08.86, giving her a score of 6352, a PR of 252 points. Bougard was next at 2:10.93, but not far enough ahead of Kunz (2:15.24) and Williams (2:16.85) as the final threesome was settled.

Afterward, Kunz searched for words to explain her monster PR, which made her the No. 5 American ever. “I never in a million years thought I could score what I scored tonight,” she said. “Hard work pays off. It really does.”


WOMEN’S HEPTATHLON RESULTS

(June 26–27)

1. Annie Kunz (unat) 6703 PR (WL, AL) (5, x A; non-JJK: 4, 4 A)

(12.95w, 5-11¼/1.81 out PR, 51-7¼/15.73, 23.71 PR [4042], 21-4/6.50 PR, 147-10/45.06 PR, 2:15.24 [2661]);

2. Kendell Williams (Nik) 6683 PR (6, x A; non-JJK: 5, 5 A)

(12.95, 6-½/1.84, 43-½/13.12, 23.51w [3924], 22-1/6.73w, 155-6/47.41 PR, 2:16.85 [2759]);

3. Erica Bougard (Nik) 6667

(12.92, 6-1½/1.87, 40-7½/12.38, 23.56w [3912], 21-4/6.50, 153-4/46.75 PR, 2:10.93 [2755]);

4. Michelle Atherley (Mia) 6352 PR

(12.91, 5-7¾/1.72, 42-6¼/12.96, 23.45 [3776], 20-7/6.27, 130-1/39.65, 2:08.86 [2576]);

5. Ashtin Mahler (Tracksm) 6273

(13.79, 5-8¾/1.75, 46-8¼/14.23, 24.47 [3669], 19-10¼/6.05, 168-4/51.30, 2:17.74 [2604]);

6. Chari Hawkins (OnAC) 6236 PR

(13.18w, 6-½/1.84, 45-5¼/13.85, 24.36 [3856], 19-6¼/5.95, 137-6/41.92, 2:18.67 [2380]);

7. Maddie Holmberg Nickal (PennSt) 5895

(13.72, 5-5¼/1.66, 41-8¾/12.72, 24.74 [3444], 20-7¼/6.28w, 129-0/39.33, 2:17.36 [2451]);

8. Juanita Webster-Freeman (SBTC) 5887

(13.97, 6-½/1.84, 41-8¾/12.72, 25.75 [3540], 17-8/5.38, 148-1/45.14, 2:13.39 [2347]);

9. Hope Bender (unat) 5867

(13.60, 5-10/1.78, 43-3¼/13.19, 24.40w [3672], 18-8/5.69, 107-3/32.68, 2:13.61 [2195]);

10. Erin Marsh (Duke) 5839

(13.09w, 5-10/1.78, 35-7¾/10.86, 23.93w [3637], 19-2/5.84, 109-7/33.40, 2:17.32 [2202]);

11. Jordan Gray (MSI) 5781 (14.20, 5-5¼/1.66, 46-2/14.07, 25.02 [3440], 20-3/6.17, 126-10/38.67, 2:21.93 [2341]);

12. Jadin O’Brien (NDam) 5671 (x, 10 AJ)

(13.96, 5-5¼/1.66, 41-6½/12.66, 24.74 [3406], 19-8¾/6.01, 99-2/30.23, 2:12.34 [2265]);

13. Asya Reynolds (Ga) 5642

(13.86, 5-3/1.60, 42-4¾/12.92, 24.43 [3396], 19-7½/5.98, 113-4/34.55, 2:18.76 [2246]);

14. Erinn Beattie (unat) 4653 (14.29, 5-8¾/1.75, 35-8¾/10.89, 26.64 [3184], nm, 117-0/35.66, 2:15.52 [1469]);

15. Lindsay Flach (MSI) 2834 (16.28, 5-½/1.54, 39-3¼/11.97, 28.32 [2611], 11-10/3.61, nm, dnf);

… dnfs—

Taliyah Brooks (Asics) 4908 (12.85, 6-½/1.84, 41-4¼/12.60, 23.10w [3946], 20-10½/6.36, dnc),

Riley Cooks (Ois) 1560 (15.70w, nm, 46-8/14.22, dnc), Anna Hall (Ga) (dnf, dnc).

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