Makeba Alcide took silver in women’s heptathlon at the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Friday in Eugene, Oregon.
Competing at historic Hayward Field, the 23-year-old from Castries, Saint Lucia, a senior at the University of Arkansas, set a new national record, school record and Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) record in the two-day event, finishing second to University of Kanas sophomore Lindsay Vollmer.
Alcide was the leader after the opening day, on which four events were contested. Her overnight score was based on personal-best marks in two events, the 100m hurdles and 200m dash, and a win in her pet event, high jump, albeit with a substandard effort. Ominously, however, Vollmer had had personal-best marks in the same events, and had matched her high jump best. So it was onto day two, with sophomore Erica Bougard of Mississippi State also in the hunt.
In long jump, Makeba set an outdoor career-best mark of 6.05m on her opening trial, seventh overall. But Bougard had gone 6.25 and Vollmer 6.16 (another personal-best mark for her) to close the gap, and this in advance of Makeba’s weakest event, javelin throw. In the event, Vollmer again set a new PB, flinging the spear 46.18m (a PB again, this time by nearly four metres). Makeba’s 34.65m left her 139 points behind Vollmer (5254 to 5115) with one event remaining.
Makeba needed to beat Vollmer by nearly 10 seconds to win the NCAA title. The Saint Lucian came in with a PB of 2:13.66, the American 2:23.97, so the fight was very much on. When the dust settled and everyone had crossed the line, though, Makeba set another PB, finishing second in 2:12.05, but the Jayhawk had shaved more than four seconds off her time (2:19.36) to hold off the Razorback by 36 points, 6086 to 6050. Arizona State’s Keia Pinnick was third with 5984.
Makeba’s new heptathlon record surpasses the 5,968 she set last month at the Southeastern Conference Championships. Fortuitously, the combined wind in the 100m hurdles, 200m dash and long jump (+1.0 metres per second, +2.7 and +2.3) meant that the average recorded wind speed was 2.0, exactly the limit for the purpose of setting a record. Makeba also improved her World Championships qualifying mark, although she is still a B qualifier.
Today (Saturday) Makeba concludes an excellent career at Arkansas with competition in the open high jump, where she will go up against Olympic silver medallist Brigetta Barrett of Arizona, as well as fellow Saint Lucian Jeannelle Scheper of South Carolina.
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