FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Texas A&M junior Tyra Gittens set the record in the women’s pentathlon Thursday at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, winning the event with 4,746 points on the first day of the three-day meet at the Randal Tyson Track Center.
“Today means so much to me,” Gittens said. “When I was a freshman and looked at the collegiate record I just thought ‘Oh, my gosh, I don’t think I can do that, but I can come somewhere in that area’. As I matured, I definitely realized that it can be more achievable than I thought, and I was so happy that I was able to do it today.”
Gittens opened the day by placing second in the 60-meter hurdles in 8.27 seconds to score 1,068 points. She swept the next three events to build a commanding lead.
Gittens began the middle events with a 6-foot-4 clearance in the high jump for 1,145 points. She followed by winning the shot put with a toss of 45-5.75 for 785 points, then won the long jump with a leap of 21-7.25 for 1,033 points. That put Gittens at 4,031 total, almost 600 points clear of the field. Duke senior Erin Marsh stood in second at 3,487 points through four events with Georgia sophomore Anna Hall in third at 3,483.
Needing just a respectable showing in the 800 to claim the national title, Gittens finished in 2:28.22. The time was good for just 15th, but it meant 715 points — more than enough to win the gold medal and break the college record of 4,703 total set by Georgia’s Kendell Williams at the 2016 NCAA indoor meet.
Gittens’ mark also set the NCAA meet, A&M school and facility records as well as the Trinidad and Tobago national record. In fact, she scored the most points in the pentathlon by a woman from a Caribbean nation.
Gittens’ effort put A&M in a tie for third in the early team standings. Through 2 of 17 events, Notre Dame led the women with 13 points followed by Ole Miss (11), A&M and Louisville (10) and Georgia (8).
The men completed just one event Thursday with Florida senior Thomas Mardal winning the weight throw with a toss of 80-3. Georgia sophomore Kyle Gardland led the men’s heptathlon with 3,555 points through four of seven events.
Gittens will compete in two open events Friday, the high jump and long jump.