NORMAN- The first day of the 16th J.D. Martin Invitational belonged to junior Makayla Stephens, who took three of the five events of the pentathlon.
In doing so, Stephens recorded a personal best in the 60-meter hurdles (8.88) and shot put (37-7.25, 11.46m).
“I’m super pleased with her hurdles,” said fourth-year head coach Jim VanHootegem. “We thought that that was coming and it’s good to see her get in the 8.8 range. It’s a good breakthrough for her.”
After finishing second in the 60-meter hurdles to open up the pentathlon, she went on to tie for first place in the high jump (5-6.50, 1.69m) and won outright the shot put and long jump (18-1, 5.51m) portions. In the last event, the 800-meter run, it seemed that the day and her illness finally caught up to her. She finished seventh with a time of 2:42.87 after leading the first three laps. Still, her lead heading into the final event was enough to carry her to her first career pentathlon win. She ended the event with 3645 points, less than 200 points short of her career best, and places her fifth among the Big 12 pentathlon results to date.
“I thought she had a very solid day in the high jump, probably even better than she’s been practicing,” VanHootegem continued. “It’s nice to see her be able to go to the meet and put that together. The shot put and long jump are still events that she can do better in. She did well enough today. In the 800, she had some breathing issues and maybe went out a little fast. That was really unfortunate because she lost a lot of points in that regard.
“She did a great job under the weather. I think that she showed, and we preach, that you don’t always have to feel good to perform well. And just because you feel good, it doesn’t mean you’re going to perform well. I definitely think it was a worthwhile experience for her. She can now go back to individual events while looking forward to Big 12s.”
Senior CeCelia Jackson started off the day strong for the Sooners, winning the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.69. She finished tied for fourth in the high jump (4-11.50, 1.51m) and fourth in the shot put (31-10, 9.70m) before pulling out of the competition. She ended the pentathlon in 11th place with 2118 points.
“She kind of tweaked a knee at the Nebraska meet and was just trying to manage that this week,” explained VanHootegem. “When she went back to the high jump today – she got hurt in the high jump at Nebraska - so when she finished the hurdles and went to the high jump, it kind of got irritated again. She tried to throw shot put but we eventually realized it was better to be smart. We never like to not finish a competition, but you also have to be smart, too. I know she is disappointed in doing that, but we have to look ahead.”
While the pentathlon ended today for Jackson and Stephens, there are three more events for junior Steven Jazdyk to complete tomorrow morning in the heptathlon. He currently sits in second place with 2660 points, 224 points behind first place.
His day started off with a victory in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.07, before finishing last in the long jump (20-7.75, 6.29m), third in the shot put (38-1.50, 11.62m) and last in the high jump (5-8, 1.73m).
“He’s still got to let it happen a little bit more and just believe,” the head coach stated. “There’s no doubt about how hard he trains or how bad he wants it, but sometimes we think he tries a little too hard in the competition. We want him to just let it flow a little bit more and be more relaxed. There are things we still see improvement on and it’s just a matter of him relaxing more when he competes.”
The heptathlon will begin at 9 a.m. with the 60-meter hurdles and will continue with the pole vault and 1000-meter run. At 10 a.m., the women’s weight throw will begin and the mile run at noon will be the first running event.
Live results from the meet will be available at PTI Timing. A full recap will be available after the meet at Soonersports.com. Be sure to follow Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (OU_Track) for meet updates.