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Posted: March 6, 2009  : Add to Mixx!

Athletics: Olympians to clash at USA Indoor Combined Events Champs

INDIANAPOLIS - 2008 Olympian and defending women's champion Diana Pickler will face two Olympic teammates, and Jake Arnold will return to defend his men's title this weekend at the 2009 USA Indoor Combined Events Championships, held at Eddie Smith Field House on the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

The third-place finisher in the heptathlon at the 2008 Olympic Trials, Pickler will be challenged by fellow Olympic heptathlete Jacquelyn Johnson and Olympic high jumper Sharon Day, who owns a pentathlon personal best of 4,276 points and a heptathlon career best of 5,642 points set last year. Johnson enters the competition with the highest pentathlon personal best in the field of 4,496 points. Pickler has the second best PR in the field with 4,378 points from last year's championships.

The 2008 women's indoor pentathlon title came down to a battle between Pickler and her twin sister Julie, who was the NCAA heptathlon runner-up in 2007. Julie, who will challenge her sister again this weekend, posted the highest scores in the last two events in 2008 (long jump, 800m), but fell short of Diana's winning total by 82 points.

Other contenders to keep an eye on in the women's competition include 2006 USA Indoor Pentathlon champion Lela Nelson and 2007 runner-up Bridget Ingram.

The women's pentathlon competition consists of the 60m hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and 800 meters.

A two-time NCAA decathlon champion who finished fourth in that event at the 2008 Olympic Trials, Jake Arnold put on an impressive display last year in either posting the best mark or equaling the best performance by other competitors in four of the seven events contested in the men's indoor heptathlon.

Arnold held the lead after Day 1 of the competition with 3,220 points, and tallied 5,851 points for the win. 2001 champion Stephen Moore was the runner-up, trailing Arnold by 57 points. 2007 runner-up Chris Boyles was third with 5,688 points, with Joe Detmer finished fourth with 5,603 points.

Arnold will face a challenge from Mustafa Abdur-Rahim, who owns a decathlon personal best of 8,175 points and an indoor heptathlon best of 5,883 points, which is only 26 points shy of Arnold's indoor heptathlon PR. Others to keep an eye on and their heptathlon PRs include Olympic Trials seventh-place finisher Chris Helwick (5,917) and Joe Detmer (5,761).

The men's indoor heptathlon consists of the 60m dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60m hurdles, pole vault and 1,000m run.

The men's heptathlon will begin Saturday at 1 p.m. On Sunday the women's pentathlon will kick-off the action at Noon, with the final three events of the men's competition beginning at 1 p.m.

For more information on the 2009 USA Indoor Combined Events Championships, visit USATF.org.

About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.

For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org.


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