Duke In Hunt To Score In Decathlon

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas field events coach Dick Booth described Jimmy Duke as a 150-pound decathlete who couldn't outrun three out of shape novices, but competes like few athletes he's ever coached.

Duke, a 5-8 senior, has brought the same energy which has been vital to Arkansas' late successes by sitting in seventh place after day one of the decathlon Thursday.

Duke is in his first meet back after suffering a foot injury which forced him to pull out of the Texas Relays in early April.

The injury compromised his entering Thursday's decathlon as he is also scheduled to compete in Sunday's pole vault final.

But if one knows anything about Duke, who finished fifth at last year's SECs in the event, he was going to lace up his cleats and compete.

"It was between him and John (McDonnell)," Booth said. "In my best judgment he would have gone straight to the pole vault.

"His training is off a little bit. His conditioning is a little off."

After five events, Duke sits in seventh place with 3,371 points.

He ran the 100 in 11.48 seconds. His long jump was measured at 21 feet, 1 1/4 inches. He threw the shot 36-11 3/4 and high jumped 5-11 1/2. Then, in the final event of the day, Duke ran the 400 in 51.97.

"I was 95 percent so I felt it was a safe risk," Duke said. "In hindsight, if we would have lost (the meet) by two or three points, I would be upset if I wouldn't have done an event I could have done easily."

Tennessee's Chris Helwick, the 2005 decathlon champion, holds a mild lead over LSU's Darion Powell with 3,913 points. Powell has 3,831 points.

Helwick set a season-best mark in the high jump with a leap of 6-8. His better events are to come with the pole vault and the javelin, which are individual events in which he will compete later this weekend.

But there is added pressure to secure the maximum 10 points after teammate Jangy Addy has been suffering from two sore hamstrings after competing at the Sea Ray Relays in April.

Addy scored no points in the long jump, high jump and 400.

He finished fifth last year as a freshman, but will not score points for the Volunteers in what is expected to be a close meet between Arkansas, LSU and Tennessee.

"There's always that pressure," Helwick said. "It's a realistic expectation though (to finish first). But now it holds a little more importance."

Seventh place for Duke after the first day is a solid starting point as day two produces his better events. After the 110 hurdles, his least successful of the 10 events, Duke will pole vault which is expected to shoot him up the standings. He is also a consistent discus and javelin thrower as well as an accomplished 1,500-meter runner, which is the decathlon's final event.

"Jimmy is a good leadoff man for us because he does all he can with what he has," Booth said.

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