INDIANAPOLIS – University of Arkansas freshman Gunnar Nixon has been named USA Track & Field’s Athlete of the Week after setting a world junior record in the indoor heptathlon over the weekend at the Razorback Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark., and reached an NCAA automatic-qualifying mark.
In the first multi-event of his collegiate career, Nixon scored 6,022 points to pass the 5,953-point mark set by Michael Kohnle of West Germany in 1989. Nixon’s performance also gives him the American junior record, Arkansas school record and makes him the only junior competitor age 20 and under to pass the 6,000-point mark in a heptathlon.
Nixon recorded personal bests in each event in the first day and credited that in reaching the world mark. Nixon was unaware of what the world record was until his coach told him shortly before the 1,000 meters, which was the final event of the competition.
“The first day rolled off pretty smooth,” he said, mentioning he only needed to run 2:46 in the 1,000m to set the record, which was well slower than his personal best of 2:37. “After the first day, I had breaking 6,000 points in mind. I had no idea what the world junior record was. I thought it would have been a little bit higher. Hopefully this is just the starting point. I have two more heptathlons this year and I know I can do better.”
Now in its eleventh year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on www.usatf.org. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.
2012 Winners: January 5, Landon Peacock; January 11, Kirubel Erassa; January 18, Shalane Flanagan; January 26, John Nunn; February 1, Gunnar Nixon.
Week in Review - January 23-29
Sanya hogs the limelight with two WLs
Sanya Richards-Ross opened her 2012 season with a pair of world-leading sprint marks at the Arkansas Razorback Invitational, clocking 23.18 in the 200 to down Kimberlyn Duncan of LSU, and adding a 51.45 in the 400.
2011 World Championships finalist Brigetta Barrett of Arizona sailed to a personal-best 1.97/6-5.5 to take the high jump, while Stanford's Aisling Cuffe nabbed an American Junior indoor record in the 3K with her 9:15.56.
Besides the WJR in the heptathlon by Gunnar Nixon (see AOW), Texas long jumper Marquise Goodwin notched the best jump in the world this year with an 8.10/26-7 effort. In the heptathlon high jump, Nick Ross of Arizona set a hept WR with his 2.24/7-4.25 clearance.
A world-leading 7:50.14 gave Stanford's Elliott Heath the win in the 3K.
Eaton up the track...and field
There's a new star Eaton on the scene, this time in the hurdles. Syracuse's Jarret Eaton moved to =2nd on the collegiate all-time list in the 60H with a sizzling world-leading 7.49 at the Penn State National Invitational. Eaton had set the WL in the semis with his 7.54. Only Reggie Torian of Wisconsin (7.47) has ever run faster as a collegian.
Ashton Eaton, heretofore the better-known Eaton as the decathlon silver medalist at the '11 World Champs, didn't disappoint, either, popping a personal-best 8.04/26-4.5 in the long jump at the Texas A&M Mondo Challenge.
Roberts dashes to world lead in 400
Gil Roberts, who has only outdoor eligibility remaining for Texas Tech, zipped to a world-leading 45.99 in the 400 at the New Mexico Invitational, and just for good measure he dropped an American-leading 20.63 in the deuce.
Hoffa's hefty put tops world list
2007 world champion and '11 5th-placer Reese Hoffa blasted a world-leading 21.87/71-9 in the shot put at Chemnitz, Germany. It was the 10th-best toss of Hoffa's illustrious career, which has featured seven World indoor and outdoor championships berths as well as a pair
of Olympic Games.
HSR in dash for Florida star
Last summer's Pan American Junior 100 champ Marvin Bracy of Orlando clipped .06 off the previous national prep record in the 55 with a 6.08 at the Carnes Invitational in Gainesville.