SACRAMENTO, Calif. – On a hot day in northern California, senior Beyonka McDowell threw the shot put 44 feet, 6 ¾ inches to win the competition in the heptathlon at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, Calif., for the University of Arkansas Lady Razorback track team.
McDowell’s effort in the shot put earned her 766 points and propelled her from 21st overall to 12th in the competition and placing her in striking distance of a top eight finish. Uncorking the throw on her first attempt, McDowell had three very good throws on way to the win, but none that could exceed her throw that beat the field by more than a foot.
“Beyonka had a very good shot put and that put her back in the race,” Arkansas head coach Lance Harter said. “The heptathlon is an event that ebbs and flows so anything can happen. The shot put is one of her specialties and even though she didn’t throw her absolute best, she was still much better than her competition. With a good solid day tomorrow, she could get herself back into a scoring position, but we’ll have to see.”
The heptathlon began with the 100-meter hurdles, a specialty for McDowell, but she hit the ninth hurdle which slowed her down to 13.89 seconds and an eighth-place finish. Looking as though she would run a season best in the event, McDowell’s stumble probably cost the Vallejo, Calif., native three or four tenths of a second, a difference that could have placed her in anywhere from the lead to fourth place.
The second event of the day was the high jump and McDowell soared over the first four bars she attempted. Starting at 4 feet 10 ¼ inches, she cleared 4-11 ½, 5- ½, and 5-1 ¾, before recording her first miss at 5-3. McDowell had three very good looks at 5-3, but clipped the bar each time taking her out of the competition with 701 points.
McDowell’s heptathlon competition ended with the 200 meters and she continued to improve personally when she ran 25.49 to finish 19th in the event. The 842 points in the 200 placed her in 13th overall, just 85 points from the top eight with a solid second day on the horizon.
Arkansas was shut out of the scoring in the 100-meter hurdles when senior Kasia Williams ended her Lady Razorback career with a ninth-place finish in the event. Running 13.43, Williams again looked strong at the start and through the first half of the race, but she hit a hurdle late which through her off stride just enough to let Heather Heron of San Diego State and Candice Davis of Southern California to catch her at the tape. Despite the scoring setback, Williams did take Arkansas’ second all-America honor of the meet.
“I’m really disappointed for Kasia,” Harter said. “She has been so consistent all year long and to have this happen in her final race is really a shame. Unfortunately at this level you have to be perfect if you want to succeed and any mistake really counts against you.”
The NCAA Championships conclude on Saturday at the Alex G. Spanos Track in Sacramento, Calif. For more information about Lady Razorback track or about Arkansas women’s athletics, please go to www.ladybacks.com.