Georgia junior Kendell Williams set two collegiate records and won her third straight national pentathlon championship during the opening day of the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala.
The pentathlon is the first scored event at the meet so thanks to Williams’ finish and Xenia Rahn’s seventh-place finish, Georgia (12 points) is in second behind Arkansas (15) on the women’s side.
Williams highlighted the meet early by topping her collegiate record in the pentathlon’s 60-meter hurdles with an 8.09 and equaling a 12-year-old school record to start the five-event competition.
Then, she wrapped up the competition scoring a total of 4,703 points, which topped her own collegiate record and gave her three in a row in the pentathlon at all three of the NCAA indoor meets she has competed in during her Georgia career. This marks Williams’ fourth NCAA title, including her 2014 heptathlon crown outdoors.
Williams’ final score of 4,703 also makes her the first collegian to score more than 4,700 points and only the fourth American all-time to accomplish the feat.
Also of note, Rahn, a graduate transfer from North Carolina, exploded for a career-high 4,268 to finish seventh place for an expected First Team All-America certificate and two more points for Georgia. This tied the No. 3 spot in the UGA record books, equaling Lucie Ondraschkova’s score from the 2014 NCAA meet.
At 8:10 p.m. ET on Friday night, Williams is scheduled to return to the track and compete in the open long jump. On Saturday, Williams is slated to compete in the open high jump.
Earlier in the day on Friday, senior Garrett Scantling (3,527 points) took the heptathlon lead after four events on the men’s side. Sophomore Karl Saluri (3,305) is in seventh while senior Maicel Uibo is holding onto the final scoring spot in eighth (3,274) with three events to go on Saturday.
In the pentathlon, Williams wasted no time reminding the crowd at the CrossPlex facility who was the two-time defending champion. Lining up in the fourth section, Williams shot to a collegiate record time of 8.09 to win the event and score 1,109 points.
This bested her record time of 8.10 set at the 2015 NCAA Championships. Williams’ time also matched Hyleas Fountain’s school record set at the 2004 Nationals. Williams came into the competition with the country’s 32nd-fastest time of the year and left with the nation’s seventh best in 2016.
Coming in with the nation’s top pentathlon score this year, Kansas State’s Akela Jones tripped and fell in the hurdles and finished last in the hurdles with a 10.98 for only 540 points.
While Jones set an all-time collegiate record in the pentathlon high jump (6 feet, 6 inches) to win, Williams walked away from the pit with the third-best outing of her career. She cleared 6-1.25 on her second attempt to score 1,054 points and finish second in the event. Williams held a 56-point lead in the overall competition at this point.
The suspense built in the pentathlon shot put after Williams opened with a 38-foot throw, which was more than three feet below her career best, and then followed with a foul. On her last attempt, Williams answered with a career-best toss of 44-5.50 to finish second and score 764 points.
Similar to the shot, Williams saved her best performance for last in the long jump. The two-time defending SEC champion started with a foul, had a second attempt of 19-9.75 and then peaked with her second-best effort of the year (20-10) for third place and 959 points.
Jones had another all-time collegiate mark in the pentathlon long jump of 22-3.25, but pulled out of the 800 after starting the race.
Williams wrapped her third consecutive NCAA title by keeping pace in the 800. Running a 2:24 to start the year and a 2:17 at the conference meet two weeks ago, she split the difference with a 2:20.47 for ninth place. Her 817 points in the event helped give her a 271-point cushion in the final event of seven over Arkansas’ Taliyah Brooks.
Rahn blasted out of the blocks in her opening event to clock the eighth-fastest time in school history and win her heat with her fastest finish at Georgia. Her time of 8.42 scored Rahn 1,035 points to finish sixth to start.
Rahn slipped to ninth place after her 5-6 clearance in the high jump. The Dormagen, Germany, native had three clearances on her first three tries and finished with 830 points.
In the shot put, Rahn came away with her top effort on her second throw of 42-8 for 727 points. She managed a fifth-place finish and kept herself in scoring position as the multi-events neared their finale.
Rahn landed in the pit’s sand three times after reaching 19-3.25 or better in the long jump. She scored 871 points and was seventh overall with a personal-best mark of 19-11.
Rahn saved her final personal best of the day in the 800 as she finished two spots behind Williams in 11th place. She ran the fastest time of her career (2:21.34) to tally 805 points and hold on to her seventh-place finish. This completes Rahn’s collegiate career and she finishes as a four-time First Team All-American (indoor and outdoor combined).
Live stats and full results from this weekend’s meet will be posted at georgiadogs.com.
Updates from Georgia’s track and field and cross country program can always be found on Twitter/Instagram (@UGATrack).