SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A record-breaking performance in the high jump Friday vaulted Vanderbilt sophomore Josie Hahn into medal contention in the heptathlon at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Hahn, a native of Clinton, Tenn., who finished second at the Southeastern Conference Championships three weeks ago, used the high jump performance to vault into seventh place overall after four events of the seven-discipline heptathlon. The heptathlon closes Saturday with the long jump, javelin and 800-meter run scheduled at the Sacramento State University facility.
Hahn, who could not go above 5'8" during the 2003 outdoor season, established a new school record of 5'10.75". She made the successful leap, which added 1.5" to her former team record, on her second attempt. Hahn also broke her previous record minutes earlier, making a pressure-packing clearance on her third and final attempt at 5'9.75".
The record performance vaulted Hahn from 21st to fourth in the standings after she started the competition with a mild disappointment, running the 100-meter hurdles in 14.93. After the high jump, Hahn closed with solid performances in the shot put and 200 meter dash to accumulate 3,257 points. Hahn's shot put toss (39'1.25") and 200 meters (26.29) were just shy of personal best performances.
Hahn trails sixth-place Tamara McGill of Pittsburgh by just one point (3,258), Mary Varga of Akron by just three points, and Fiona Asigbee of Missouri by 20 points. The SEC outdoor champion, Hyleas Fountain of Georgia, leads the competition with 3,684 points. She is followed by Angela Whyte of Idaho (3,567) and Ellannee Richardson of Washington State (3,432).
Hahn's work is far from done if she plans to secure points with a top eight finish Saturday. If she gets a solid performance in the long jump to open the event Saturday, she could challenge for a top five placing because the heptathlon closes with two of her finest events, the javelin throw and 800-meter run.
Hahn faced a similar situation recently at the SEC Championships. In fourth place entering the final day, she uncorked a personal best in the long jump, then won the javelin and 800 meters to claim the runnerup position.