For the second year in a row, the Gustavus track and field program has crowned a national champion in dramatic fashion. This year, it is senior Janey Helland, who came from behind in the final event to win the NCAA Division III national title in the heptathlon, following last year’s dramatic finish by Max Hanson to win the 800 meter national title. Helland, who trailed Emma Dewart of Ithaca by three points heading into the seventh and final event of the heptathlon, registered a career best time of 2:19.47 in the 800 meter run allowing Helland to finish 46 points ahead of Dewart for the national title with a tota of 5,061 points. It is the seventh individual event title claimed by Gustavus at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the history of the men’s and women’s track and field programs.
“I knew I had given everything I had in the 800, but I just wasn’t sure if it was going to be enough. It turned out that it was. I am really a bit shocked right now. It is a great feeling.” stated Helland on the phone just minutes after finding out that she had won the national title.
Gustavus heptathlon coach Heidi Selzler mapped out a plan at the beginning of the second day and Selzler was confident that Helland could come all the way back and win the title. She stated, “Janey came out and turned in a solid performance in the long jump right away and you could see her confidence grow. After that, everything just fell in to place.” Selzler added, “Janey is such a competitor, she knew what she had to do and she just went out and did it. I am very proud of her.”
Helland and Dewart, a junior from Ithaca College had battled head-to-head in the pentathlon at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March and Dewart edged Helland for the national title by nine points. This time it was Helland, however who battled back to edge Dewart for the heptathlon title.
Helland’s total of 5,061 points shattered the school record of 4,762 set in 2008 by Kaelene Lundstrum. She becomes only the fifth heptathlete to score over 5,000 points at the NCAA Championships in Division III history and her total is the sixth highest ever registered at the national meet. Helland posted personal best efforts in five of the seven events including a time of 15.60 in the 100 meter hurdles, an effort of 5 feet, 4 1/4 inches in the high jump, an effort of 35 feet, 8 inches in the shot put, a toss of 123 feet, 4 inches in the javelin, and a time of 2:19.47 in the 800 meter run.
Event by event totals for Helland included a 15th place finish (out of 22) in the 100 hurdles (15.60 – 764 points), a tie for second in the high jump (5′ 4 1/4 – 771 points), sixth in the shot put (35′ 8″ – 587 points), tenth in the 200 meters (26.52 – 752 points), 1st in the long jump (18 feet, 5 1/4 – 735), 2nd place in the javelin (123′ 4″ – 621 points) and 2nd in the 800 meter dash (2:19.47 – 831 points).