USATF Men’s Decathlon — The Changing Of The Guard

After 7 years of Eaton or Hardee, a new name appeared at the top: Zach Ziemek. (KEVIN MORRIS/PHOTO RUN)

After 7 years of Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee taking turns sitting in the catbird seat, a new era in U.S. championship 10-eventing dawned with a trip to the end of the alphabet as Zach Ziemek won his first national title in convincing fashion by 275 points with an 8294.

Double Z, as he has been christened by multis guru Frank Zarnowski, only trailed once during the event, and he produced a big PR in the discus to pull away from runner-up Solomon Simmons after 7 events. A rash of DQs, including two in the 400, knocked out some contenders for podium spots, but it was always only a tussle between Wisconsin grad Ziemek—whose best NCAA finish was a silver in ’16—and Simmons, who was 6th behind Ziemek that year for Eastern Michigan.

The 100 results mostly went according to form, but the long jump was hampered by consistent headwinds that kept anyone from surpassing 24-feet. Tied with Ziemek after 2 events, Simmons took the lead by 24 with a shot best of 46-11 (14.30) on his sole legal effort, but Ziemek came back in the high jump to clear 6-7½ (2.01) and take advantage of Simmons’ weakest event.

Workmanlike 400s put Ziemek (49.99) at 4169 after the first day, and Simmons (49.22) at 4094. Stanford’s Harrison Williams, who crashed out of the NCAA decathlon with a DQ in the 110H after a stellar 4311 first day, made up ground on the two leaders with his 48.16, ranking 3rd by 2 points over Tim Ehrhardt of Michigan State, who had the top clocking at 47.91. Steven Bastien and Alex Bloom, who were both in the top 6 following the HJ, came a cropper in the 1-lapper with lane violations and dropped out of contention.

As Day 2 dawned, Williams inched closer with a 14.13 in the hurdles, coming within 45 points of Ziemek, but then the leader tacked on almost 5ft to his lifetime best in the discus with a 167-0 (50.90) bomb that was more than 100 points better than anyone else in the field.

Sporting a 142-point margin before the vault, Ziemek matched Ehrhardt’s 17-6½ (5.30) clearance and his lead ballooned to more than 300 with 2 events remaining. All that was required from there was a pair of steady performances in the javelin and 1500, and that is precisely what Ziemek produced. He had the fourth-best throw at 185-6, and then cantered to a 4:47.38 in 11th to seal his maiden victory. Simmons became American No. 81 to top 8000, tallying a PR 8019, with Williams taking bronze at 7878.

“Having all the guys all together joking around, having fun, you don’t get inside your own head or get discouraged or anything,” the 25-year-old Ziemek said. “They’re there to pick you up and it makes it a lot more fun and easier to do a dec.”


USATF MEN’S DECATHLON RESULTS

(June 21–22)

1. Zach Ziemek (adi) 8294

(10.65, 23-8¾/7.23, 45-8/13.92, 6-7½/2.02, 49.99 [4169-1],

14.63, 167-0/50.90, 17-6½/5.35, 185-6/56.54, 4:47.38 [4125]);

2. Solomon Simmons (unat) 8019 PR

(10.67, 23-9½/7.25, 46-11/14.30, 6-1½/1.87, 49.22 [4094-2],

14.32, 150-2/45.78, 15-3/4.65, 199-11/60.94, 4:44.54 [3925]);

3. Harrison Williams (Stan) 7878

(10.84, 23-4½/7.12, 41-11½/12.79, 6-5/1.96, 48.16 [4061-3],

14.13, 133-3/40.62, 16-2¾/4.95, 169-8/51.71, 4:41.13 [3817]);

4. Daniel Golubovic (unat) 7702

(11.26, 21-10/6.65, 44-9½/13.65, 6-1½/1.87, 50.20 [3735-8],

14.62, 142-4/43.39, 16-2¾/4.95, 196-10/59.99, 4:36.30 [3967]);

5. Markus Ballengee (Lib) 7511

(11.19, 21-3¼/6.48, 43-10¾/13.38, 6-6¼/1.99, 50.36 [3794-7],

14.64, 144-3/43.98, 15-11/4.85, 149-9/45.64, 4:38.84 [3717]);

6. Tim Wunderlich (Shore) 7289

(11.67, 21-10/6.65, 44-9¾/13.66, 6-1½/1.87, 53.35 [3511-11],

15.46, 141-10/43.25, 15-7/4.75, 203-7/62.06, 4:45.03 [3778]);

7. Derek Jacobus (Ar) 7217

(11.02, 23-4¾/7.13, 41-4¼/12.60, 6-2¾/1.90, 49.96 [3874-6],

15.99, 121-7/37.06, 13-11¼/4.25, 169-1/51.55, 4:36.33 [3343]);

8. Trent Nytes (Wi) 7208

(11.09, 22-6¼/6.86, 43-8¾/13.33, 6-7½/2.02, 50.64 [3916-5],

15.11, 125-1/38.12, 13-11¼/4.25, 164-3/50.07, 5:01.31 [3292]);

9. Charlie Card-Childers (Rice) 7090

(11.33, 22-1/6.73, 41-10½/12.76, 6-2¾/1.90, 52.16 [3624-9],

15.34, 126-0/38.42, 14-11/4.55, 175-9/53.58, 4:52.00 [3466]);

10. Thomas FitzSimons (ABEOSB) 7078

(11.30, 20-7¾/6.29, 43-¼/13.11, 6-½/1.84, 50.99 [3550-10],

15.35, 137-9/41.98, 13-11¼/4.25, 167-6/51.05, 4:33.28 [3528]);

11. Benjamin Ose (Dart) 7011

(11.06, 21-7½/6.59, 35-9½/10.91, 5-10/1.78, 50.49 [3507-12],

15.31, 114-8/34.97, 15-7/4.75, 166-1/50.63, 4:37.41 [3504]);

12. Tyler Grob (unat) 7007

(11.25, 21-¾/6.42, 44-4/13.51, 5-10/1.78, 52.25 [3507-12],

15.63, 126-10/38.67, 15-11/4.85, 176-8/53.84, 4:57.19 [3500]);

13. Tim Ehrhardt (MiSt) 6950

(10.87, 23-5½/7.15, 42-7/12.98, 6-4/1.93, 47.91 [4059-4],

dq, 124-9/38.02, 17-6½/5.35, 152-7/46.50, 4:35.29 [2891]);

14. Steven Bastien (unat) 6817

(10.70, 23-6¼/7.17, 43-3/13.18, 6-5/1.96, dq [3228-14],

14.92, 126-4/38.51, 16-2¾/4.95, 150-3/45.80, 4:40.93 [3589]);

15. Alex Bloom (Cinc) 6357

(10.96, 22-8/6.91, 40-7½/12.38, 6-8¾/2.05, dq [3141-15],

15.15, 122-4/37.30, 14-7¼/4.45, 138-0/42.07, 5:00.45 [3216]);

… dnf—Austin Bahner (SBTC) 2237 (4)

(10.99, 22-5/6.83, 39-½/11.90, nh). □