To be named the world’s greatest athlete is an honor coveted by many but only bestowed upon the person who wins the Olympic decathlon — and for good reason. The decathlon requires an insane amount of skill and tests almost every athletic ability imaginable. On Thursday and Friday, two Bears will be representing the Cal track team at the California Multi’s Meet — the first outdoor decathlon of the season — in what promises to be a true physical test for all its participants.
The Multi’s Meet is divided into a decathlon — 10 events — for men, and a heptathlon — seven events — for women, spanning across two days. The decathlon consists of the 100-meter sprint, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter sprint, 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and the 1500-meter race. Similarly, the women’s heptathlon is comprised of the high jump, shot put, 100-meter hurdles, 200-meter sprint, long jump, javelin throw and 800-meter race. For both men and women, scoring is based on points awarded for each event.
“It’s a good measure of overall athleticism,” said director of track and field Tony Sandoval. “On the decathlon, people consider the decathletes the most well-rounded athletes in athletics.”
Representing Cal will be senior Jaci Powell on the women’s side and senior Andrew Cruikshank on the men’s side. They will be up against a field of six women and 12 men, who are participating as individuals. At last year’s Multi’s Meet, Powell placed second with a total of 4995 points and won the javelin throw. Cruikshank has participated in a number of both indoor and outdoor events, but has yet to stand out in a competition. Not only does the Multi’s Meet require extraordinary athletic skill, but it also involves versatility. While Powell and Cruikshank may not have had the chance to impress in individual events at earlier meets this year, their unique combination of athleticism and versatility makes them poised to perform well at the Multi’s Meet.
“Most people only have one, maybe two, decathletes per team, because it’s a very demanding event,” Sandoval said. “Most people would rather just focus in on one or two events, rather than having to do all 10.”
In addition to the Multi’s Meet, a select number of athletes will be headed to Sacramento on Saturday for the Hornet Open Meet. While the Hornet Open may be a relatively insignificant meet on Cal’s schedule, it is important for the team to make use of the opportunity. With several athletes not having been part of the indoor season, this meet presents the chance for them to get some experience.
“It’s what I call a ‘technical meet,’ ” Sandoval said. “We’re going to see where we’re at in terms of our preparation.”
With the important tri-meet — pitting Cal against Virginia and Michigan — approaching, the Bears are taking advantage of their current break. In practice, they’ve added volume to their training, as many of the athletes haven’t competed in the past two weeks. In fact, the reason Sandoval decided to send members of his team to Hornet Open Meet is because without it, many athletes would have gone three weeks without a competition.
Kapil Kashyap covers track and field. Contact him at [email protected].