Battling windy and cooler conditions during the second day of the heptathlon Thursday at Myers Stadium, Central High graduate and Texas A&M senior Jena Hemann produced a trio of career best marks in the final three events to generate a score of 6,002 points as runner-up in the Texas Relays multi-event in Austin, Texas.
Hemann’s performance is a new school record for the Aggies, topping the previous mark of 5,811 points set by Daphne Fitzpatrick at the 2011 Big 12 Championships. With a previous best score of 5,531 during the 2013 Texas Relays, Hemann added 461 points in setting her career best.
“That’s an outstanding performance by Jena,” Texas A&M head coach Pat Henry said. “She did some things today she knows she’s been able to do. Now she’s gained confidence in herself and I think she’s ready to score even higher than what she did today.”
Hemann also improved upon the best A&M score set in Austin, which was a 5,642 by Kalleen Madden in the 1993 Southwest Conference meet, as well as the best Aggie total in the Texas Relays, with the previous best being a 5,638 established by Fitzpatrick in 2011.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
“I was definitely shocked to score 6,000 points, that’s for sure,” Hemann said. “When people talked to me about scoring 5,800 and possibly breaking the school record I was thinking that’s a 300-point difference from my previous best score. That’s kind of outrageous.
“Then to score 6,000 points, I started tearing up actually when I heard them announce it. I didn’t know I was that close to getting over that barrier.”
Arkansas junior Alex Gochenour won the Texas Relays heptathlon title with a collegiate leading 6,027 points, finishing just 25 points ahead of Hemann. Gochenour and Hemann currently have the second and third best scores on the 2015 world list, trailing a 6,102 from New Zealand’s Portia Bing.
In third place was UTEP’s Jallycia Pearson (5,527) while the Razorbacks also finished fourth and fifth with Taliyah Brooks (5,482) and Leigha Brown (5,473).
After holding a 247-point lead over Hemann at the end of the first day, Gochenour’s lead was whittled down to a scant eight points heading in the final event, the 800 meters.
With a significant tailwind, Hemann long jumped 19-6 ¼ (5.95) for 834 points while Gochenhour went 20-7 (6.27) for 934 points. At that stage of the heptathlon Gochenour led Hemann 4,691 to 4,344.
In the javelin Gochenour managed a toss of 102-2 (31.14) into the wind for 498 points. Hemann, meanwhile, threw an impressive 160-1 (48.80) to tally 837 points. The swing in points had Hemann challenging for the Texas Relays title in addition to threatening the Aggie school record.
“From practices I knew I could PR in the javelin pretty easily this season and to get a mark like that was nice,” Hemann said. “I talked to Coach (Kris) Grimes and Coach (Juan) De La Garza a lot about trajectory and making sure I was slicing through the wind. As long as you don’t lose the tip, they say you should do well.
“After the javelin I was excited when I saw my score. I relaxed a bit knowing I could get the school record if I run what I normally run in the 800, but I was wanting to beat Alex so my nerves were kicking in. I was relaxed and focused on what I needed to do to get that done.”
The difference of eight points in the scoring table for the heptathlon 800 meters is just half a second. Hemann only needed a 2:35.00 to better the A&M record by two points.
“When we started the 800m my thought was to stick with Gochenour, but she has a slower start than I do,” Hemann said. “So, then I rethought that process and decided to run my own race. She was in front of me right after we broke in on the backstretch of the first lap and she had a teammate right next to her.
“When she started to pick up her pace to finish a bit stronger in the final 200m, I was trying to stick with her and she kind of pulled away from me. She did help me to finish as strong as I did, so there was a plus with that aspect.”
Gochenour clocked 2:18.95 (838 points) in the final event as Hemann followed in 2:20.16 (821 points).