INDIANAPOLIS – Former University of Arkansas Lady Razorback multi-event specialist Gi-Gi (Miller) Johnson was the headliner at the USA Track and Field Championships on Friday as she dominated the heptathlon field on the first day of competition to the tune of 3,765 points and a first-place standing.
Johnson was the winner of three of the day’s four events including both running disciplines to tally a monstrous first-day score that puts the elusive 6,000-point mark within reach. Johnson holds a 130-point lead over the top ranked Hyleas Fountain who stands in second and Fiona Asigbee lurks in third just 19 points behind Fountain.
“It’s always nice to see your former athletes doing well,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “The number of athletes that we have competing at this event has grown considerably over the past five or six years and this season we have six ladies getting it done. When you consider that the likes of Deena Drossin and Nicole Teter aren’t here for various reasons, it’s even more impressive.”
Johnson opened the day with a time of 13.04 in the 100-meter hurdles, four-tenths of a second ahead of the field for a score of 1,118 points. The second event for the group was the high jump, one of Johnson’s weaker events when she was a Lady Razorback. Perhaps the sign of great things to come, Johnson cleared a very competitive 5 feet, 7 ¾ inches, to tie for fourth among all the competitors and earn another 879 points.
The shot put was another event in which Johnson dominated as her toss of 44-8 ¼ was more than two feet better than the second-place mark and stretched her lead by another 40-plus points. The first day ended with the 200-meter dash, an event that Johnson barely edged Fountain. Running 23.81 into a 1.4 meters per second headwind, she was 0.2 seconds ahead of Fountain (23.83), who received a more generous headwind of 0.9 meters per second.
Arkansas’ all-time leading all-American Amy (Yoder) Begley also ran on Friday, finishing eighth in the 5,000-meter run. Competing against a relatively large 18-person field, Begley finished in 15:43.77, just a few seconds out of third place, but well behind the winner, Lauren Fleschman who ran a stunning 15:12.37.
Former NCAA 200-meter champion LaShaunte’a Moore rounded out Arkansas’ participation at the meet on Friday as she ran in the 100-meter dash. Not her specialty, Moore easily made it out of the first round which was postponed from Thursday due to thunderstorms in the Indianapolis area by running 11.40 and finishing 13th overall. The semifinals are where Moore ran into trouble as she was unable to improve on her preliminaries time and finished in 13th.
For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.