USATF Women’s Heptathlon — The Smart Money Was On Bougard

Erica Bougard easily lived up to her billing as the overwhelming favorite. (KEVIN MORRIS/PHOTO RUN)

Erica Bougard was one of the safest bets of the meet, coming in with a nearly 600-point advantage over her closest competitor. After a win at Florence and a PR 6725 to take 3rd at Götzis, the 24-year-old Mississippi State product had her eyes set on capturing her first national outdoor title.

Showing the same form that scored her a big PR in the 100H in Austria, Bougard was dominant in Des Moines, clocking 12.96 to take a 55-point lead over Alex Gochenour as the only one to crack the 13-second barrier. She added to that margin in the high jump with a relatively subpar 6-½ (1.84) clearance, while Gochenour endured a near disaster in the form of a third-attempt make at 5-3 (1.60) that dropped her to 12th in the standings.

Gochenour roared back in the shot, blasting a 48-8 (14.83) to add almost a foot to her lifetime best and move back to fourth overall. An even bigger PR by Annie Kunz, who added 18 inches to her previous best, elevated her to 2nd behind Bougard after 3 events, 136 points adrift. Unmatchable speed propelled Bougard to a 23.67 in the 200 to close out the first day with 3866, putting her 250 points ahead of Lindsay Schwartz, with Kunz 3rd another 7 back.

Threatening weather awaited the field coming into Day 2, and Gochenour made the best of swirling winds to uncork a PR 20-4¼ (6.20) into a 1.4 breeze to win the long jump. Bougard managed a 19-9½ (6.03) in the second round, 2ft below the PR she set at Götzis, as only 3 surpassed 6m (19-8¼). That cut her lead over Gochenour to 227, and Riley Cooks edged into 3rd overall.

Needing only a fair throw in the javelin to virtually assure herself of victory, Bougard had one legal toss of 132-3 (40.31) to up her score to 5398. Texas senior Ashtin Zamzow dominated the competition with a 166-0 (50.60) in the third round that was more than 25ft better than the next finisher and moved her up 7 spots to 4th behind Gochenour and Cooks.

Going to the front from the gun in the climactic 800, Bougard dragged the field through 400 in 63.18, and then held off challenges from Allison Reaser and Schwartz to win in 2:11.08 and end up with 6347 points. Schwartz notched a PR 2:11.91 behind Reaser’s 2:11.26, but her season-best 5933 couldn’t catch Gochenour (6003), who was the only other finisher over 6000. PRs went to Zamzow (5853) in 6th and Cooks (5825) in 8th.

“I’m exhausted; it’s my third heptathlon of the year,” Bougard said. “I wanted my score to be better, but I am just happy to get the win. The first day was really rough for me and got my spirits down a bit. My second day was better, and I finished strong. I knew I had enough to win, so I focused on technique.”


USATF WOMEN’S HEPTATHLON RESULTS

(June 23–24)

1. Erica Bougard (Nik) 6347

(12.96, 6-½/1.84, 40-11¾/12.49, 23.67 [3866-1], 19-9½/6.03, 132-3/40.31, 2:11.08 [2481]);

2. Alex Gochenour (unat) 6003

(13.33, 5-3/1.60, 48-8/14.83, 24.59 [3586-5], 20-4¼/6.20, 129-10/39.57, 2:18.35 [2417]);

3. Lindsay Schwartz (ABEOSB) 5933

(13.60, 5-7¾/1.72, 43-8¾/13.33, 24.30 [3616-2], 18-8¾/5.71, 122-9/37.42, 2:11.91 [2317]);

4. Allison Reaser (Arete) 5901

(13.53, 5-4¼/1.63, 37-3¼/11.36, 24.29 [3389-12], 20-¼/6.10, 134-4/40.95, 2:11.26 [2512]);

5. Annie Kunz (CVE) 5881

(13.84, 5-7¾/1.72, 48-½/14.64, 24.94 [3609-3], 19-0/5.79, 128-2/39.06, 2:19.04 [2272]);

6. Ashtin Zamzow (Tx) 5853 PR

(13.91, 5-7¾/1.72, 40-6¼/12.35, 24.93 [3447-10], 18-7¼/5.67, 166-0/50.60, 2:22.95 [2406]);

7. Alissa Brooks-Johnson (WaSt) 5850

(13.91, 5-6½/1.69, 41-2¼/12.55, 24.79 [3437-11], 18-9¾/5.73, 139-8/42.58, 2:12.51 [2413]);

8. Riley Cooks (Falcon) 5825 PR

(13.47, 5-6½/1.69, 43-5/13.23, 24.35 [3587-4], 19-4/5.89, 138-9/42.31, 2:28.61 [2238]);

9. Madeline Holmberg (PennSt) 5780

(13.93, 5-3/1.60, 45-9/13.94, 24.17 [3478-7], 19-2/5.84, 131-3/40.01, 2:19.23 [2302]);

10. Emilyn Dearman (unat) 5759

(13.57, 5-6½/1.69, 42-6¾/12.97, 25.13 [3482-6], 18-10/5.74, 121-9/37.10, 2:14.93 [2277]);

11. Nikki Larch-Miller (SBTC) 5597

(13.58, 5-5¼/1.66, 40-10½/12.46, 24.70 [3452-9], 18-9¾/5.73, 121-2/36.94, 2:24.17 [2145]);

12. Juanita Webster-Freeman (SBTC) 5480

(13.81, 5-11¼/1.81, 39-½/11.90, 25.74 [3470-8], 17-10¾/5.45, 117-8/35.87, 2:26.59 [2010]);

13. Rose Jackson (TND) 5429

(14.70, 5-½/1.54, 39-6/12.04, 24.11 [3182-14], 18-2½/5.55, 119-8/36.47, 2:12.24 [2247]);

14. Shaina Burns (TxAM) 5254

(14.39, 5-4¼/1.63, 42-1½/12.84, 26.33 [3181-15], 18-1½/5.52, 114-3/34.82, 2:21.78 [2073]);

15. Alyssa Thompson (Az) 5155

(14.85, 5-1¾/1.57, 35-6/10.82, 25.41 [2996-16], 17-5¼/5.31, 138-10/42.33, 2:21.59 [2159]);

… dnf—Kendall Gustafson (UCLA) 4878 (6)

(14.30, 5-8¾/1.75, 40-4¾/12.31, 25.35 [3389-12], 18-10/5.74, 139-10/42.63, dnc). □