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UAPB athlete in historic journey

by Mark Rico | June 3, 2022 at 3:10 a.m.
UAPB standout Safiya John competes in the long jump in a recent meet. (Special to the Commercial/University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff)

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff track star Safiya John has already proved that she can compete with just about anybody in the country.

In the process, she will make history as the first ever athlete from a historically Black college/university (HBCU) to ever compete at the NCAA heptathlon finals, when she hits the track next week in Eugene, Ore., as one of the top-ranked women in the country in her event.

The event will be held from June 8-11.

John sat out the West Preliminary in Fayetteville a week ago as a precautionary measure due to a minor back issue. She will be ready to compete in what could very well be her final event as a student-athlete.

John graduated in May with her coveted bachelor's degree in environmental science and now has the option of using the extra competition year granted to college students when the covid-19 induced shutdown of all athletics, or beginning her professional track career.

She could not be reached for this article.

John, who has already solidified herself as one of the most decorated athletes at UAPB, dominated the field at the SWAC Indoor Track & Field Championships back in February by securing multiple medals while breaking meet records in the women's pentathlon (3,981 points) and in the women's 60-meter hurdles (8.41 seconds).

She added a gold medal in the women's triple jump, with a distance of 12.36 meters (40 feet, 6.75 inches) and then secured two silver medals in the women's long jump with a mark of 5.92 meters (19 feet, 5.25 inches) and the women's high jump, clearing the bar at the height of 1.67 meters.

This season, John secured three first-place finishes at the SWAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.30 seconds, the women's long jump with a mark of 6.10 meters and the heptathlon with 5,602 points.

University of Florida sophomore Anna Hall enters the heptathlon event with the highest cumulative point total with 6,458 points, followed by Kristine Blazevica of the University of Texas (6,064) and Duke University's Erin Marsh with 5,946 points.

John's 5,602 points were enough to punch her ticket to the finals.

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