FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. —
Indiana State now has a women’s NCAA champion in track and field in four of the past five years.
Indiana State senior Felisha Johnson closed out her 2013 indoor season Friday by claiming the NCAA national title in the women’s weight throw, her second in three years, and breaking the school record twice in the process. Kylie Hutson won consecutive indoor titles in pole vault in 2009 and 2010.
Johnson was fourth in 2012 after winning the 2011 title indoors.
“It made me work harder. I really wanted to win. I was disappointed last year. Over all the breaks [from school] I just kept working out harder than ever,” Johnson said.
ISU women’s coach Angie Martin was impressed.
“Fe did a tremendous job today,” Martin said. “She really composed herself and had some great throws … .”
Five of the six throws by the Sycamore senior were longer than 70 feet as she dominated the competition. Johnson, who had set the Indiana State record twice already this season, established a new mark with her third throw of the competition when she went 76 feet, 81⁄2 inches.
But she was not done yet.
Johnson’s next throw went 76 feet and her fifth 72-13⁄4. She saved the best for last, breaking the school record for the fourth time this season and winning the competition with a heave of 77-2.
ISU’s throws coach, Erin Gilreath, celebrated with Johnson on the 10-year anniversary of Gilreath’s NCAA title in the same event — and in the same building — for the University of Florida.
“It's kind of neat. I feel like I'l remember this one a lot more than mine as an athlete,” Gilreath said. “It's nice to coach somebody who's such a phenomenal athlete. I like the challenge of it too. Every day it's a challenge to try to help her.”
Beth Rohl of Michigan State finished second with her best throw going 73-21⁄4. Brittany Waller of Clemson was third at 70-10 with Chelsea Cassulo of Arizona State fourth at 69-8. Illinois State’s Brittany Smith was fifth at 69-71⁄2.
Johnson’s winning throw is the fifth best in collegiate history and gives the Missouri Valley Conference three of the top five collegiate marks.
Three of the top four marks were established at the NCAA indoors in previous years led by former Southern Illinois thrower Brittany Riley, who posted the top mark of 83-101⁄4 at the 2007 championships. Candice Scott of Florida threw 79-33⁄4 in the 2005 championships, while Jenny Dahgren of Georgia went 78-101⁄2 in the 2006 championships. Former SIU athlete Jeneva McCall went 77-101⁄2 during the 2012 season.
Johnson will seek her second national title of the 2013 championships today when she competes in the women’s shot put.
ISU junior Greggmar Swift advanced to today's finals in the 60-meter hurdles, running a time of 7.72 in Friday's first semifinal heat. He has the seventh fastest time of the finals qualifiers. Florida junior Eddie Lovett posted the fastest time in the semifinals with a time of 7.53.