Oberlin Heptathletes Find Success in All-Ohio Meet


Photo courtesy of Lily Jurman

Hill and Vaughn showed a variety of skills during the meet.

Last weekend, two members of the track and field team traveled to Delaware, Ohio, to compete in the North Coast Athletic Conference Heptathlon at Ohio Wesleyan University. Third-year Hayden Hill and first-year Celia Vaughn earned the team 13 points over the two-day competition, with Vaughn earning a sixth-place finish and Hill coming out on top with 3,757 points.

First introduced at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, the heptathlon is a competition in which athletes, typically competing in the women’s division, participate in seven events: the 100-meter hurdles, the long jump, shot put, and the 200-meter run on the first day, and the broad jump, javelin throw, and 800-meter run on the second day. The event requires participants to be proficient in all areas of track and field and the training regimen is different from that of athletes who only run or only throw. Athletes like Hill and Vaughn work with multiple coaches on their teams who specialize in different areas of track and field.

“We have throws practice twice a week on top of our regular practices,” Hill wrote in an email to the Review. “We hurdle twice a week, high jump and long jump once a week, and do sprint work three times a week. We also lift, do tempo workouts, and perhaps most importantly take rest days!”

Heptathletes are allowed one false start in the track events. Two false starts result in disqualification. In the shot put, broad jump, long jump, and javelin, each athlete is given three attempts.

“The heptathlon is my favorite event to coach,” Assistant Track and Field Coach for Sprints and Hurdles Ben Wach wrote in an email to the Review. “I love that it’s unsolvable. Because what is required to be good at each event has effects — some positive and some negative — on each other event, every improvement creates new opportunities and new challenges. Getting to work through that process with people as resilient and hard-working as Hayden and Celia is as interesting, engaging, and fun an experience as I can have as a coach.”

In the competition last weekend, Hill put on a quality performance, winning the shot put, 200-meter run, and 800-meter run. She also posted personal records in shot put, the 800-meter, the 100-meter, javelin, and long jump, which all together add up to five of the seven events. Hill’s efforts earned her the NCAC Field Athlete of the Week award, and she is looking to build on her momentum in the NCAC Outdoor Track and Field Championship this weekend.

Vaughn, who just began training for the heptathlon this year, had a successful weekend, coming in sixth place overall. As the two heptathletes competing for Oberlin, Hill and Vaughn spend much of their training time with one another. In an email to the Review, Vaughn expressed her admiration for Hill’s dedication and commitment to the heptathlon.

“Hayden is such a naturally gifted athlete,” Vaughn wrote. “I got to watch her get better every practice, and it’s wonderful to have someone as incredible as her to look up to everyday. She’s so observant, kind, and diligent.”

Vaughn’s trademark has become her signature yell during her events, which she attributes to a much-needed release of anxiety and tension, especially following a bad event.

“At the end of the first day Hayden asked me ‘Do you use anger to fuel you?’ and I said, ‘Do you ask that because I yell in my events?’” Vaughn wrote. “I think of it as expelling all negative thoughts. Everyone says it reminds them of [Clare Tiedemann, OC ’22,] and I like to think it’s keeping her legacy alive even though I didn’t know her well. I asked Hayden if she was using anger now to fuel her, and she was like, ‘Oh yeah, after my high jump I wanted to take the anger into shot put.’ … She did and it was incredible. … After using anger, she kept PRing insane amounts, and I’m so glad she found something that worked so well for her!”

Vaughn and Hill’s bond has helped propel them to the top of their conference, and the support they have for each other and among the rest of the track and field team has made a world of difference in their development and success.

“That bond among the team is the most important ingredient to each person’s success here,” Wach wrote. “Success in track and field requires competing at the very edge of your body’s capacity — having the support of 80 other people who are invested in your success makes finding that edge so much easier.”

Track and field culminates its season at the NCAC Championships this weekend at Ohio Wesleyan University.