What a remarkable two-day performance by Millville’s Bryanna Craig!
She’s now a national champion and a national record holder!!!
Craig, a freshman at Millville, on Saturday became the greatest freshman multi-event specialist in U.S. girls track history.
Thanks in large part to a huge personal-best throw in the javelin that propelled her from seventh place into the lead with one event to go, Craig won the heptathlon at the New Balance National Championships and shattered the national freshman record.
Craig scored 4,958 points, winning by 147 points over Brianna Smith of Cheltenham High outside Philadelphia.
There is some confusion over the previous national high school record, but Jack Sheppard’s U.S. track annual lists the mark as 4,934, set in 2014 by Tyra Gittens of Ensworth High in Nashville, although that mark was achieved out of season.
In any case, Craig now has the mark, as well as the New Jersey state record. Craig scored 4,791 in her first career heptathlon back in April at the Arcadia Invitational outside Los Angeles, where she placed second.
The previous New Jersey record — depending on what rules you want to follow was 4,931, set in 2000 by Amber Williams of Roxbury, although that was achieved with the old javelin. Tia Livingston of Union Catholic scored 4,952 in 2015, but that was in a Junior Olympic summer meet, which shouldn’t be eligible for record-keeping purposes. The highest previous score achieved in-season with the current javelin appears to be Craig’s 4,791.
In any case, this was a remarkable achievement by Craig, who PR’d in the 800, hurdles and javelin on her way to the national title.
Craig’s score of 4,958 is 9th-highest in meet history. She’s the first national champion ever from Cumberland County and the first New Jersey girl to win the national heptathlon title. She’s the 10th girl from South Jersey to win a national scholastic outdoor title.
Craig began Saturday in seventh place with 2,940 points with the long jump, javelin and 800 remaining. But she was only 177 points out of first.
She jumped 17-5 1/4 to score 645 points in the long jump to open Saturday’s competition but remained in seventh place.
But she bombed a big PR 114-4 in the javelin for 569 points but more importantly to move all the way into the lead, as none of the other top competitors were able to reach 100 feet.
Craig’s previous javelin PR was a 103-11 3/4 at Arcadia, and her 114-4 is actually the fifo-best mark in New Jersey this year by a freshman.
That gave her 4,154 points with one event left, but her lead was not a very big one.
In fact, here’s what the scoring looked like going into the concluding 800:
4,154 … ***Bryanna Craig, Millville, N.J.
4,134 … Zaria Fuller, Uniondale, N.Y.
*4,111 … Brianna Smith, Cheltenham, Pa.
4,103 … Jayla Ellis, Oakland Catholic, Pa.
*4,091 … Jada Johnson, Sharon, Mass.
4,033 … Chloe Royce, Vanier
4,022 … Avery McMullen, Centennial, Tenn.
4,006 … Holly Cassels, Fla.
So she led by 20 points, with a total of five girls within 63 points and three others within 148 points.
It all came down to the 800, and Craig responded with a two-second PR of 2:21.44 off a 67.7 first lap for 804 points.
Her time was second-fastest in the field behind a girl who wasn’t one of the contenders heading into the 800. Nobody else ran faster than 2:27, and Craig had her national title.
Here’s a look at Craig’s performances on Day 1:
—> 100-meter hurdles: Craig ran a big PR 14.65 for 888 points. Her previous PR was 14.88 at Arcadia.
—> High jump: Craig jumped 5-5, one inch off her PR, to score 795 points. She has cleared 5-6 several times, including at the Meet of Champions last weekend.
—> Shot put: Craig threw 28-0 1/4 for 434 points.
—> 200-meter dash: Craig ran 25.71 fourth-fastest of all 24 competitors, to pick up 823 points. That’s just off her PR of 25.60, which she ran in the heptathlon at Arcadia in April.
Here’s a list of all the national champions from South Jersey in the girls New Balance Nationals:
S.J. GIRLS NATIONAL CHAMPIONS
Bryanna Craig [Millville], Heptathlon [4,958]
Brielle Smith [Oakcrest], Javelin [150-5]
Jess Woodard [Cherokee], Shot Put [45-4 1/2]
Krystal Cantey [Winslow Twp.], 400-Meter Hurdles [56.83]
Winslow Township, Super Sprint Medley [1:45.07]
Winslow Township, 400-Meter Relay [40.92]
Erin Donohue [Haddonfield], Mile [4:42.96]
Erin Donohue [Haddonfield], Mile [4:48.68]
Lynlee Phillips [Shawnee], Javelin [140-6]
Nicole Hill [Oakcrest], 100-Meter Hurdles [13.72]
Dana Burnett [Williamstown], 400-meter dash [53.51]