Eugene, USATrey Hardee scored 8261 points to win his first US Decathlon championships title in Eugene on Friday (26) - a competition which offers points scoring opportunities in the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge.
The competition took place without Olympic champion Bryan Clay, who was forced to withdraw one hour before the start of the first day because of a hamstring injury suffered in training on Tuesday. (See day 1 report in ‘Related Content’ under the photo to the right of this text).
Finishing second was 21-year-old University of Oregon student Ashton Eaton with 8075, his sixth consecutive Decathlon competition in excess of 8000 points over the last 13 months. Jake Arnold captured third with 7984, as these three athletes will form the US Decathlon team at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Berlin, Germany (15– 23 Aug).
The morning of Day Two saw Hardee charge right from the gate as he needed to protect a microscopic four-point advantage over Eaton after the first day.
The Texan clocked a 13.95 in the 110m Hurdles for the only sub-14 performance by the field. Running in the same heat, Eaton kept pace well with 14.03. That marginally increased Hardee’s lead to 18 after six events, 5318 to 5304.
In the battle for the final team position, the places underwent a full scramble from the first day. Arnold, resting in sixth after Day 1, rode a 3.3 wind to a 14.17 hurdle time - the second-best of his career - and rose solidly into third place with a 93-point advantage (4989 to 4896) over Chris Randolph, who improved from fifth to fourth after a 14.88 race over the barriers.
Burt meanwhile dropped from third to ninth after a surprisingly weak 16.80 performance, while yesterday’s fourth-place occupant, Joe Detmer, fell to fifth after a 15.13 time, which left him 111 points out of third.
The three team positions began to reveal themselves after the Discus Throw, although without specific names attached to the places. As expected, Hardee moved further ahead with a 44.76m throw, to which Eaton could reply with only 41.33m (though not far from his PB of 41.79m). It left Hardee with an 84-point bulge after seven events, 6080 to 5996.
Arnold consolidated his hold on third with a solid 45.75m effort and moved to an imposing 223-point lead over Randolph, whose 39.36m fling still kept him in a distant fourth, 5771 to 5548.
Paul Terek used a 44.61m throw to rise from 10th to fifth at 5430, as he led a quintet with scores in a 50-point range. The best effort of the day came from Daniel Kinsey with a PB 48.75m.
Even with a substantial aiding wind in the Pole Vault, 5.00m was the measure of excellence today, achieved by five of the competitors. Hardee was one of them, and juxtaposed with Eaton’s sub-par 4.50m, he was able to take an eight-event lead of 234, 6990 to 6756.
The chase for the third team spot tightened as Arnold could scale only 4.70m, inferior to all of his Decathlon vaults the last five seasons save for one no-height. Randolph capitalized on the opportunity with an equal-PB 4.90m to move within 162 of a Berlin nomination, 6590 to 6428.
Both Terek - a 5.70m vaulter in open competition - and Lysian Edmonds posted 5.00m jumps to hold fifth and sixth with 6340 and 6320, respectively.
The Javelin Throw did nothing to alter the top six places, but it did serve to spread things out with only one discipline remaining.
Hardee led off with a PB 64.12m, the day’s best, and he immediately passed his next two throws. Eaton, not a strong exponent of the spear, posted a 51.46m which shot Hardee to a 424-point lead after nine events, 7790 to 7366.
Arnold all but secured the third spot for Berlin at this point with a 57.82m throw, which left Randolph 204 points away from a team position after a 55.01m.
Hardee’s considerable lead meant he could take a rest during the 1500m, and he did just that. After the first 100 metres, he was running in last place, and he never moved from that position, clocking a glacial 5:16.01, the slowest he has ever closed a ten-eventer.
All the while, Eaton was doing what he could do to close the gap, knowing full well that the title was out of reach. Kicking strongly with 150 metres remaining, he crossed the line in 4:35.45, content to be traveling to Berlin in August.
Arnold ran in his usual range in the decathletes’ ‘most loathed event’, coming home in 4:38.59 and achieving his second straight US World Championships team nomination.
To no surprise, Detmer—who owns the best-ever 1000m in the indoor Heptathlon at 2:29.42—was the fastest to run the 3¾ laps of Hayward Field with a 4:21.48.
A fatigued, smiling Hardee put things into perspective at the end. “These two days had lots of ups and downs,” he admitted. “But I was quite confident after Götzis (where he finished second, only six points behind Germany’s Michael Schrader)”.
“I knew I didn’t have to push here. I knew it would be there,” he continued. “Now I just need to get to the World Championships healthy,” indicating that he, like all decathletes, always has a list of minor aches and pains to contend with. “Little things, nothing really extremely important,” he explained.
A retrospective of the two days found him highlighting good performances in the hurdles, 400m and javelin. “The 400 was especially pleasing at the end of yesterday. It wasn’t the fastest I’ve ever run, but the way it felt was promising. I just jogged the first 200 and I felt relaxed.” Despite a PB in the javelin, Hardee said that “it wasn’t perfect, I just didn’t hit it right.”
But the 25-year-old did feel as if he were working alone much of the two days. “The guys I looked up to over the last four years—Bryan (Clay) and Tom (Pappas) —weren’t there. It’s just not as easy that way.”
Ed Gordon for the IAAF
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