Senior strives to leave legacy, break school record in hammer throw

The record has stood at Minnesota since 2007.

by Megan Ryan

This weekend’s Musco Twilight in Iowa City, Iowa, may seem like a typical meet, but Jeri Johnson-Chambers views it as an opportunity.

The senior has a fairly singular goal for her final season with the Gophers — to break the school record in the hammer throw.

“I’m what, 16 feet away?” Johnson-Chambers said. “And it seems like a big jump, but if everything goes right in hammer … it can happen.”

This weekend, Johnson-Chambers said she’s aiming to best her personal record. She threw 184 feet, six inches, at the Alabama Invitational two weeks ago, which moved her to No. 7 on Minnesota’s all-time list.

The school record, set by Liz Alabi in 2007, stands at 199 feet, eight inches. Johnson-Chambers said she’s been eyeing the top spot for a while.

“There is no timeline — I just want to get it done before I graduate,” Johnson-Chambers said. “Or at least make it up there. I want to be in the record books for as long as I can.”

But Johnson-Chambers may have some competition. Sophomore thrower Devin Stanford ranks No. 8 all-time. She threw 181 feet, seven inches at the Arkansas Invitational three weeks ago.

“[The record’s] just been sitting there for years, and I’m like, ‘I want to beat it because I know Devin’s going to do it,’” Johnson-Chambers said. “So I’m like, ‘I’ve got to get it first.’”

Stanford said while she and Johnson-Chambers push each other to throw farther, she still considers Johnson-Chambers a role model.

“She’s somebody who I can, like, model my throw after,” Stanford said. “She’s really good at leading.”

Johnson-Chambers said it fuels the friendly rivalry whenever Stanford throws farther than her during meets.

“If Devin can do it and she’s younger than me, then I can do it,” Johnson-Chambers said. “For me it’s a healthy competition. I don’t think Devin sees it that way, but I do.”

Assistant coach Lynne Anderson said while Johnson-Chambers’ record-breaking goal is “way out there,” she doesn’t doubt her athlete’s ability.

“She’s very capable of doing it,” Anderson said. “She’s hinted at it in warm-ups in a meet and not put it in the competition. So we’re hoping that starting this weekend [she can put it all together].”