Eaton and Theisen get combined event

At the Texas Relays on Wednesday and Thursday Ashton Eaton showed just how far he has come as an athlete. At this point in his career whenever he starts a Decathlon competition he has a shot at a record or a significant milestone.

He admitted that he was not looking for a record before the competition but it is in his nature to try and get a personal record in every event he competes in. With that intent and with decent conditions at the Texas Relays he set personal bests (not records because they were wind-aided) in the 100 meters with a time of 10.34 (3.4 meter/second aiding wind – m/s) and the long jump with a best of 7.88 meters (m), 25-10 ¼ (3.0 m/s). He won those first two events and with a near-personal record (pr) throw of 13.11m, 43-0 ¼ (short of his indoor record by ¼"), that placed him second in the event he was on an incredible pace. He jumped very well in the high jump and passed at 2.05m, 6-8 ¾ (under his indoor pr of 6-11) and settled for an average performance for him with a best of 2.02m, 6-7 ½.

Coach Harry Marra said,"Hot weather caused all three to feel sluggish, despite the fact they performed well." They decided to not push themselves in the high jump, "too early in the year to fatigue the kids." Plus as Eaton said later, "I'm trying to save my legs I've got Pepsi next weekend."

Eaton ran his second best race in a Decathlon 400 meters (set the collegiate Decathlon record at 46.85 at last year's NCAA meet) with a time of 47.06 and had a personal best performance for the first day of 4494 (4367 last year on way to 8241). He was on pace for 8522 if he had reasonable performances in his other events. The collegiate record is 8465 by Trey Hardee in 2006. Eaton said, "I was thinking record after the first day but after the hurdles (wind) it was over."

On the second day he started with a time of 13.85 but the aiding wind was over 4 meters/second (4.9 m/s) and made the competition wind-illegal (the total aiding wind of the three wind-measured events was also over 6 m/s). "After that the records gone and I going to get a qualifier." NCAA and Pac-10 rules allow up to 4 m/s wind but IAAF only allows for 2 m/s aiding wind in any event. After a near two-meter pr in the Discus Throw (43.71m, 143-5) Eaton was in range of getting 8600 points. Only world champion Trey Hardee (8790) and Leonel Suarez scored over 8600 points last year. Based on Eaton's previous marks in Decathlon competitions he could have vaulted 5.20m, 17-0 ¾, thrown 53m, 173-10 in the Javelin Throw, and run 4:26.6 in the 1,500 meters and scored 8600 points. All of those had been done in the last year.

Heavy winds that ran from 10-20 miles/hour coming from the SSE and high 70 degree temperatures (30 more than what Eugene had been since 2009) wore on the all of the Ducks. In the post-meet interview the wind was affecting the microphone. In the pole vault none of the competitors were close to their bests and many were way off. Eaton cleared 4.60m, 15-1 and passed to 4.90m, 16-0 3/4, and only two competitors cleared that height. "I had trouble navigating the pole." Eaton threw 52.19 171-3 in the javelin throw and a run of would get Eaton 8400 points (pr was 8241w). Eaton like everyone else struggled in the 1,500 and Eaton was fourth in the race at 4:41.73 (his worst mark since). He had a pr, albeit wind-aided, at 8310w and had four personal bests (one a pr in the Discus Throw).

At the same time Brianne Theisen had a tremendous competition was on pace to break the 6100 barrier for much of the meet (pr at 6086 from last year's NCAA meet). She ran a wind-aided 13.69 (3.7 m/s) in the 100 hurdles, won the high jump at 1.80 m, 5-10 ¾ (passed at 1.83m, 6-0), and was one inch off her pr in the shot put at 12.62m, 41-5. She ran the 200 meters in 24.34 that was aided by a 3.5 m/s aiding wind. Her first day was a pr points. The second day was not as strong with a 5.87m, 19-3 ¼ long jump (5.4 m/s), 39.35m 129-1 Javelin throw (well off what she threw last year – she said "the wind was carrying it funny") and a run of 2:19.78 in the 800. She finished with 5942w points to win her first meet of the year. What a tremendous start to the season for the defending NCAA champion.

She said later, "I though I would score 57 or 58 but I didn't think I would hit 59." Things did not go well on the second day after a pr on the first and Theisen said, "the second day was not so good."

She is excited about the NCAA meet in Eugene and said, "if I just had that same first day (at NCAAs) and had that home crowd with me on the second day it would have been so much help. Better shape, home crowd, it's going to be so awesome, I'm excited."

Marshall Ackley was well off her bests from the NCAA meet but was better than his first Decathlon of last year. He ran 11.28 for the 100 meters (3.4 m/s), jumped 6.44m, 21-1 ½ (2.8 m/s), 1.84m, 6-0 ½, 50.72 in the 400 meters. He made a good start of the second day with a 15.18 (4.5 m/s) run in the 110 hurdles and had good marks in the throws of 38.70m, 127-0 in the Discus (pr) and 51.94m, 170-5 in the javelin throw to surround his 4.50m, 14-9 clearance in the pole vault. He finished with a second place finish in the 1,500 meters in 4:35.78 and finished seventh overall by scoring 7074w points for the ten events.

Eaton wants the collegiate record, "I'm gonna get that thing..and the school (record), that has evaded me." Collegiate record holder Trey Hardee was there and Eaton said Trey was saying, "good job.. He was here supporting."

Eaton may not have been trying to get a record but every time he is on the track the mature, well-coached, and physically fit athlete can get the collegiate record without making that a goal for the competition. Eaton is likely to challenge the world's bests as he develops the techniques in the technical events and if he stays healthy.

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