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].”