Winslow’s Tionna Tobias capped a remarkable weekend Saturday by winning the heptathlon at the Big Ten Conference Championships with the 2nd-highest score in Iowa history.
Tobias scored 5,640 points, the 15th-highest score by an American woman this year according to the World Athletics database and the highest score by a New Jersey woman in seven years.
The only higher score in Iowa history was recorded by Jenny Kimbro, who set the school record of 5,679 points when she won the 2019 Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, Calif.
Tobias’s score is No. 2 ever by a South Jersey woman and looks like the 2nd-highest ever by a New Jersey high school graduate.
Before she became a full-time hurdler and Olympic silver medalist, Nia Ali of Pleasantville scored 5,870 points at the Azusa (Calif.) Combined Events Invitational. That was Ali’s last heptathlon ever.
Millville’s Bryanna Craig, a freshman at Purdue, who was 6th after Day 1, finished very strong and placed 2nd with a lifetime-best 5,460 points for a 1-2 South Jersey finish in Bloomington, Ind.
More on Craig in a minute.
Tobias began with a very strong Day 1 and had a 218-point lead over Indiana’s Hope Purcell going into Saturday.
She opened with a PR of 13.20 in the 100-meter hurdles – that’s No. 2 in Iowa history behind Paige Magee’s 13.17 and was worth a whopping 1,094 points – and then cleared 5-7 ¼ in the high jump for 867 points.
After a 34-5 in the shot, she closed out Day 1 with a PR 23.97 in the 200 for 984 more points.
Day 2 began with another one of Tobias’s best events, the long jump, and she hit a near-PR 19-11 ¾ for 877 points, which gave her 4,348 points through five events and a 250-point over Penn State freshman Maddie Pitts, who moved into 2nd.
Tobias got through the javelin with an 89-8 on her final attempt, so she went into the closing 800 with 4,821 points and a 297-point lead over Michigan’s Theresa Mayanja, who had moved into 2nd.
Basically, she just needed to get around the track in the 800 without incident for the win, but Tobias PR’d again with a 2:19.61 – her first time under 2:20 and her 3rd PR of the weekend – for 829 points.
Tobias’s previous PR was 5,124 points at last year’s Big Ten Championships in Minneapolis, where she finished 6th.
Tobias is the first Iowa woman to win the Big Ten heptathlon.
As for Craig, she improved her PR from 5411 points to 5460 and moved up to No. 4 junior (under 20) in the world.
On Friday, Craig hurdled 14.22 for 947 point, high jumped 5-6 for 830 points, threw 34-9 ½ in the shot for 569 points and then added 890 points with a quick 24.97 in the 200.
She opened Day 2 by long jumping 18-6 for 741 points and then threw 111-4 for 552 points before finishing very strong with a monster 2:12.34 for 931 points, moving up from 4th to 2nd in the final event.
Craig PR’d in the shot put and 800 but came very close to her PRs in the high hurdles, 200 and long jump.
Craig’s 5460 points is 6th-highest in Purdue history and depending on what happens over the weekend at other meets will likely make her the No. 2 freshman in NCAA Division 1 behind Pippi Lotta Enok of Oklahoma, the World Under-20 champion from Estonia.
So she’s the No. 1 U.S. freshman in the country.
These are the highest heptathlon scores Lambo and I could find by New Jersey high school graduates:
5,870 … Nia Ali [Pleasantville], Azusa Combined Events Invitational, Azusa, Calif., April 14, 2016
5,640 … Tionna Tobias [Winslow Township, Iowa], Big Ten Championships, Bloomington, Ind., May 12, 2023
5,490 … Amber Williams [Roxbury, Florida], Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, Tallahassee, Fla., April 22, 2005
5,460 … Bryanna Craig [Millville, Purdue ], Big Ten Championships, Bloomington, Ind., May 12, 2023