Odds makers might find it tough to give a Division III athlete from a hometown with a population of roughly 1,700 better than even odds to finish in the top-five in the heptathlon at the Drake Relays. But as Han Solo would agree, don’t tell Janey Helland of Gustavus Adolphus College the odds, as the senior from Mapleton Minn. turned in three strong performances in the long jump, javelin, and 800-meter run segments to finish fifth in the heptathlon at the 102nd running of the Drake Relays held in Des Moines, Iowa. Facing a group composed mostly of Division I competitors, Helland, who is also the first athlete in school history to take part in the heptathlon at the meet, tallied a career best 4,735 points over two days, automatically qualifying her for the NCAA Championships.
North Dakota State’s Whitney Carlson won the competition with a two-day total of 5,352 points. Carlson jumped Brianna LeRoy in day two after trailing her by 17 points following day one. LeRoy of the University of Utah finished runner-up with 5,090 points. Maddy Outman, competing unattached, totaled 5,006 points to round out the top three in third place.
Helland kicked off the day’s events with her second runner-up finish of the competition, recording a leap of 18’ 8” to come in second in the long jump. She then finished fourth in the javelin with a toss of 110’ 6” in the javelin and third in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:21.97. All three marks are her season-bests.
The Maple River High School product was in sixth place with 2,679 points following day one after taking second in the shot put, third in the high jump, sixth in the 200-meter dash, and eighth in the 100-meter hurdles.
Helland’s heptathlon mark is second best this season in all of NCAA Division III. Her score at Drake is just five points less than leader Reny Colton’s of Claremon-Mudd-Scripps. Colton recorded a score of 4,739 on March, 11.
With 4,735 points, Helland ranks second in Gustavus heptathlon history. She surpassed Kirsten Bland’s 1999 mark of 4,125 points and sits just 27 points behind Kaelene Lundstrum’s 2008 record of 4,762. Helland’s performances in the long jump and javelin portions are also school records for the heptathlon. She bested both her own leap of 17’ 4.27” in the long jump and Lundstrum’s toss of 100’ 2.36” in the javelin.
Janey Helland will return to St. Peter and join the rest of the Gustavus track and field team in the Drake Alternative on Saturday.