Former Goliad standout Zamzow rallies to win NCAA heptathlon

Native South Texan Ashtin Zamzow rallied from a 254-point deficit Saturday to win the title in the heptathlon at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.

Zamzow, a University of Texas senior from Goliad, took the lead in the javelin and finished with a school-record 6,222 points.

Texas A&M’s Tyra Gittens, who held the big lead on Zamzow after five events, finished second with 6,049.

Michelle Atherley of Miami placed third with 6,014.

Zamzow told ESPN that “it’s a dream come true” to claim the championship.

“Words can’t describe it,” said Zamzow, who ran as a freshman at Texas A&M before transferring.

A large contingent of fans cheered in the stands at UT’s Myers Stadium during her television interview.

Who were they?

“It’s family, friends, everybody who supported me in my dream to come to Texas and be a successful athlete,” she said. “They mean the world to me. I’m so glad they’re here with me.”

Temperatures in the mid-90s in Austin made it tough on all the athletes on the fourth and final day of the meet.

Gittens held a 4,818-4,564 lead on Zamzow entering the second event of the day and the sixth of seven events in the heptathlon.

Zamzow promptly erased the deficit with a heave of 162-7 to win the javelin, an effort that vaulted her into a 5,416-5,356 points lead going into the 800 meters, the final event.

At that point, Zamzow needed only to avoid finishing more than four seconds behind Gittens in the 800 to claim her first outdoor heptathlon title.

She covered the distance in 2 minutes and 21.31 seconds to clinch the overall championship, with Gittens crossing in 2:29.99 to finish as the runnerup.

Zamzow’s title puts quite a twist on the Texas vs. Texas A&M rivalry. Her father, Stacy, and her mother, Kalleen, both competed in track at A&M.

After Ashtin Zamzow left Goliad, she competed at A&M in the 2014-15 season and then elected to transfer.

In her first year at Texas, in 2016, she made it to the NCAA meet in the heptathlon but finished 17th. In 2017, Zamzow redshirted. Last year, she was 11th.

This year, she turned it on, winning the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays title with 6,148 points.

Competing at home in the national meet, Zamzow set personal-bests in the 100 hurdles (13.33), in the 200 (24.23) and in the long jump (19-8 ¾).

She tied her all-time best in the high jump (5-10) on the way to the ninth-best point total in collegiate history.

It was also the seventh-best heptathlon score ever recorded at the NCAA championship.

Gittens, from Trinidad & Tobago, won the Southeastern Conference title earlier this season with a score of 5,793. In high school, she won 17 state titles in Tennessee.

Clark celebrates Arkansas team title

Former Smithson Valley distance running star Devin Clark celebrated a women’s team title with the Arkansas Razorbacks. Clark is an Arkansas senior who placed seventh in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Women’s team standings

Top 10

Arkansas 64, USC 57, LSU 43, Texas A&M 38, Oregon 34, Florida 32, Alabama 29, New Mexico 27, Colorado 24, (T10) Texas, South Carolina, Stanford, Florida State, all 20.

Horton runs on Baylor relay

Former Judson standout Kiana Horton and the Baylor women finished seventh in the 4×400 relay on the last event of the day. Horton is a Baylor senior.

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