Halfway home, Akinniyi holds down heptathlon lead

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A career-best opening day has Dorcas Akinniyi holding down the lead in the women's heptathlon at the Big Ten outdoor championships in Bloomington, Ind.

The redshirt freshman racked up 3,357 points on the opening day of competition and holds a 121-point lead over second-place Alecia Beckford-Stewart of Illinois with four events in the books.

Akinniyi's first-day total has her 99 points ahead of the pace she set in her first heptathlon at the Mt.SAC Relays in April, when she established her career-best total of 5,245 points.

She headlined an outstanding opening day for the Badgers in the event, with sophomore teammate Jessica Flax third with a four-event score of 3,222 points and senior Jenny Soceka fourth at 3,164 points.

Akinniyi opened the competition by dropping two tenths of a second off her previous personal-best in the 100-meter hurdles, clocking a time of 14.15 that was second-fastest in the field.

Only Flax, who clocked a 14.04, was faster in the opening event. Soceka cut nearly a quarter-second off her previous best mark in the event, finishing in 14.22 to give the Badgers the three fastest times in the field.

Akinniyi was the class of the field in the high jump, as she cleared a personal-best 5 feet, 10 inches to run her two-event total to an impressive 1,910 points. Flax posted a mark of 5-3, while Soceka cleared 5-1 3/4.

Flax and Soceka led the charge in the shot put with the top two marks, with Akinniyi's toss giving UW three of the top four performances. Flax threw 39-2 1/2 to pace the field, with Soceka throwing a personal-best 39-0 1/2 and Akinniyi posting a mark of 37-8 1/2.

Akinniyi finished off the day the way she began it, by putting up a personal-best performance with a time of 25.74 in the 200 meters.

Soceka had the second-fastest time in the field at a lifetime-best 25.27, with Flax crossing in a personal-best 25.35 -- a time that clocked in half-second better than her previous best -- despite running into a headwind.

The performance has Flax up 187 points over her previous best first-day score.

The heptathlon concludes Saturday with the long jump, javelin and 800 meters, beginning at 9:15 a.m.
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