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Cobb native Kendell Williams clinches second Olympic berth in heptathlon

Jun. 28—Overcoming blistering heat that soared into the triple digits, Cobb County native Kendell Williams guaranteed herself a return trip to the Olympics after finishing second in the heptathlon Sunday at the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon.

Williams, a Kell High School graduate and seven-time NCAA champion at Georgia, scored a personal-best 6,683 points to finish as the runner-up to Annie Kunz (6,703). They will be joined in Tokyo next month by Erica Bougard (6,667).

The 26-year-old Williams was third entering Sunday's final three events — the long jump, javelin and 800-meter run.

She made an emphatic statement early on, winning the long jump with a wind-aided mark of 22 feet, 1 inch to move into second, then took the lead with a second-place mark in the javelin (155-6).

With the record-setting temperature in Eugene at 105 degrees, the USATF suspended competition in the trials shortly after 3 p.m. local time. The suspension came after Taliyah Brooks collapsed on the track during her warm-ups for the javelin and was transported to a hospital.

Brooks, who was in position to contend for a top-three finish, returned to Hayward Field and was allowed by the USATF to re-enter the competition, but medical officials ultimately denied Brooks the chance to compete, forcing her to withdraw.

The heptathlon resumed just after 9 p.m. local time, with the temperature still at 99 degrees, and Williams finished eighth in the 800 with a time of 2 minutes, 16.85 seconds.

Kunz, who came into the trials having not recorded an Olympic standard score, overcame Williams for first place by finishing sixth in the 800 (2:15.24).

Jordan Gray, a Ball Ground native and former Kennesaw State standout, finished 11th overall, improving by one spot her placement entering the day. The 25-year-old finished seventh in the long jump (20-3), ninth in the javelin (126-10) and 14th in the 800 (2:21.93).

Williams, who finished 17th in the heptathlon at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, will be one of the two Cobb County natives representing the U.S. in track and field at the Tokyo Games, joining Marietta hammer thrower Daniel Haugh.

Also set to be in Tokyo is Marietta native Emily Sonnett with the U.S. soccer team, Kennesaw native Jane Campbell as an alternate for the soccer team and Smyrna native Matt Simpson in the Paralympics for goalball.