INDIANAPOLIS – Former University of Arkansas national champion and multi-time all-America Gi-Gi (Miller) Johnson can now add USA Champion to her growing resume as she dominated the field in the heptathlon to win her first USA National title.
Johnson scored 6,183 points over the two-day schedule, to come up just nine points shy of her career best, but more importantly, upset the favorite coming into the meet Hyleas Fountain by 35 points. With the victory, Johnson becomes the second former Lady Razorback to win a USA title joining the elite company of Deena (Drossin) Kastor.
“What a meet,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “Gi-Gi was on top of her game in every event and needed to be to get the win. We knew that she was a special athlete when she competed for us and this is just proof of that. We are very happy for her and wish her all the best as her professional career continues.”
Starting the day with a 126-point lead, Johnson got her competition started on the right foot when she uncorked a sparkling long jump of 20 feet, 4 ¼ inches. Picking up 912 points, Johnson held an 11-point lead over Fountain in the overall standings despite finishing fourth overall because of an even better leap of 21-6 ¼ by the favorite which garnered 1,027 points.
Being ahead by the slimmest of margins didn’t bother Johnson as she entered the javelin arena. Stepping up to the challenge she was credited with a toss of 133-0 which placed her fourth in the overall standings once again, but her toss earned her another 677 points, 63 more than Fountain. The javelin competition gave Johnson a 74-point lead heading into the final event, the 800-meters.
Needing to stay within five seconds of Fountain in the final run, Johnson used the favorite as a pace setter and sat on the other’s moves. Completing the grueling two-lap race in 2:19.56, Johnson gave up ground to Fountain over the final lap, but kept herself within the timeframe needed to earn the victory.
Other former Lady Razorbacks to step onto the track on Saturday included Christin Wurth-Thomas in the 1,500-meter run and LaShaunte’a Moore in the 200-meter dash. Wurth-Thomas’ stock has risen steadily since her victory at the Prefontaine Classic in 2005 and she entered the competition as a runner to watch. She didn’t disappoint the crowd as she ran at the front of the pack for most of the competition, but finished fifth overall with a time of 4:12.82, just two seconds off the winner, Treniere Clement.
Moore’s 200-meter dash preliminary run was eerily similar to her 100-meter dash run as she once again finished 13th. Running 22.96, Moore looked solid around the curve and down the stretch, but finished fourth in her heat earning one of the competition’s time qualifiers for the second round to be contested on Sunday.
The USA Championships conclude on Sunday afternoon with the 200-meter dash and pole vault competitions which feature Moore and current Lady’Back Jodi Unger and former star April Steiner. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.