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US decathlon 2014 review


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  • US decathlon 2014 review

    The years 2012-13 were good for American male multi-event athletes. At the top end of the event Eaton established himself as one of the all time greats and in a different level to all other current competitors. Hardee, although not further progressing was still the clear world number 2 (when healthy). Behind the big two no less than 5 young (born in 199x) decathletes broke 8,000 points and few others were on the verge of breaking this barrier. Even without Eaton, it seemed like 2014 would follow suit and shape up to be another wonderful year for US decathlon. However, in reality this year turned out to be one of the worst years since the beginning of this century. The table below illustrates this point by presenting the number of performances above 8200, 8000, 7850 by American decathletes in the period 2001-2015. The number in brackets presents the number of young (celebrated their 23 birthday or less in that year) performers.

    2014: 1(0), 3(2), 5(3)
    2013: 3(2), 6(5), 9(8)
    2012: 2(0), 3(1), 9(5)
    2011: 2(1), 5(5), 8(6)
    2010: 3(1), 5(1), 5(1)
    2009: 3(1), 5(2), 6(2)
    2008: 3(0), 8(2), 9(2)
    2007: 3(1), 4(1), 7(1)
    2006: 3(1), 4(1), 9(4)
    2005: 1(0), 2(0), 6(1)
    2004: 4(0), 8(2), 11(3)
    2003: 3(1), 5(2), 7(3)
    2002: 2(1), 5(2), 9(5)
    2001: 3(0), 5(1), 7(2)
    This table demonstrates that last year was a record year for performances of young athletes in all three categories (above 8200, 8000 and 7800). The overall performance (“old” and young) is slightly below the Olympic years of 2008 & 2004 but better than the rest of the years. In contrast, this year is the second worst year in the last 14 years (after 2005).

  • #2
    Individual performances.
    Although there is still a while to go here is a first look at the main contenders to represent the US in decathlon. As often the case in decathlon many in my list will be injured and some will fail to return to good form. But still, taking the relatively long time it takes to become a top decathlete, chances are that the American team in Rio will come from one of the leading decathletes today. So, here are my top 10 favourites for a place on the plane to Rio - how they fared in 2014 and my hopes for next year.

    1 Ashton Eaton - Since 2012 AE is at a level that no other decathlete in the world is even close to approaching. While the rest of the world is struggling to break 8,600 an injured AE scored 8,800 in Moscow 2013. Today, AE is arguably the most dominant athlete is his event (maybe with the exception of Adams in the women SP.)
    2014 - AE took a summer off and decide to relax on one of the ‘easiest’ events in T&F the 400h (and ran an impressive 48.69).
    Next year wish least: 1) WR in Gotzis 2) Gold in the WCH 3)~50 in the DT 4) ~5.50 in the PV (I know - I am greedy)

    2. Trey Hardee - The twice world champion turned 30 this year and Rio (if he makes it) will most likely be his last Olympic games. Since Eaton rose to greatness in 2012 Hardee seems to have lost some of his form and may struggle to improve on his decathlon PB (8790). Still Hardee seems to be in good enough form to be a medal favourite, possibly Silver behind Eaton.
    2014 - was sort of a mixed bag for Hardee. One the one hand he completed his first decathlon since 2012 Olympic performance with a win at Gotzis (8519) and USATF (8599). On the other hand 2014 marked the second year in which Hardee failed to break any of his PBs in any individual event. His LJ seems to be off as he jumped only 7.49 (+2.2) and another three times below 7.35 (PB 7.88 and another 8 jumps above 7.70) which suggests a potential lost of close to 150 points.
    Next year wish least: 1) Silver in the WCH 2) break (at least) one of his PBs.

    3. Gunner Nixon - last year Nixon marked himself as America’s best young potential for future glory in decathlon with impressive performances in Gotzis and the World Championships. At the end of the year he was ranked second behind Eaton and in the top spot among young Americans with a mark of 8312 points.
    2014 - started the season in a good form with PBs in the SP (15.03 vs. 14.68), DT (43.32, 42.38) and 110h (14.13 +3.0, 14.51) for a total improvement of ~90 points. However, as I was starting to think about ~8500 in the American championship he got injured and didn’t compete in the rest of the season.
    Next year wish list: 1) return to full health 2) improve PB in decathlon to ~8500 points 3) ~5.00 PV and ~65 JT

    4-6. Jeremy Taiwo - Last year broke his PB in 8 (!) of the 10 events in decathlon and set a PB of 8239. Like many others young American decathletes he is very good in the jumping and running events (Best mark HJ - 2.25) but struggles in the throwing events. An injury in the last WCH prevented him from competing this year.
    2014 - didn’t compete.
    Next year wish list: 1) return to full health 2) improve throws - 13.7, 41, 53 is simply not good enough

    4-6. Curtis Beach - a few months ago I found an old post in which GH predicted that Eaton will be the next thing in decathlon. One of the comments asked whether young Curtis Beach isn’t an even greater prospect? Four years later and Eaton is “the thing” but Beach is still only a prospect. The winter of 2014 was full of promise to Beach that won the NCAA while breaking his PB by 50 points. Everything went wrong in the first competition of the summer when he needed to withdraw and never returned to full form since. Towards the end of the summer we learned that Beach went into surgery in his right elbow that (arguably) prevented him from improving in the long throws.
    2014 - severely underperformed in all competitions due to multiple injuries - SB 6997 in the decathlon.
    Next year wish list: See Taiwo plus a personal wish that he will be the fourth member to the WCH

    4-6. Japheth Cato - at the beginning of 2013 I had a long argument with 26mi235 about the potential of Cato in the decathlon. I pointed out Cato’s horrible throws (at the time worse than Beach) as the main reason to doubt his potential. Since then his throws have improved to Beach’s level but more impressive was his improvement in the other events. This winter Cato proved that he is one of the best jumper to ever compete in decathlon with two huge PBs is the HJ (2.19) and the PV (5.55) plus a good PB in the SP (13.49). However, an injury before the NCAA meant that we were unable to watch the much anticipated duel against Beach.
    2014 - Like the previous three he was injured most of the season and didn’t complete a full decathlon.
    Next year wish list: 1) See Taiwo 2) jump close to his PBs in the HJ and PV in the decathlon

    7. Garrett Scantling - At long last an uninjured decathlete that had a good 2014. GS was the ‘darling’ of the small multi-event community (mainly because of Marlow). The reason that I rank GS behind Taiwo, Beach and Cato is not because he is less talented than the above but simply because with the NCAA finals being so close to the American trials I cannot see him making the American team before he graduates.
    2014 - started with a bang with a PB in the decathlon of 8169 (old PB 7973) and four individual PBs in Athens (1500, PV, DT, JT). The rest of the season was much quieter with a single PB in the 110h.
    Next year wish list 1) score 8200+ in the decathlon 2)LJ 7.50+ 3) sub 4:40 in the 1500

    8-9. Dakota Keys - when Keys scored his 8000 points in 2013 I thought that this was the best he can do. This year he came back with a further improvement in almost all 10 events. However, the best Javelin thrower in all of America needs to find more firepower if he is to compete with those ranked above him.
    2014 - Broke his PB in decathlon by 50 points and broke seven (!) individual events (most by small margin) for an improvement of 200 points in his sum of PBs.
    Next year wish list - 1) another improvement across the board 2) large improvement in at least one event (e.g. LJ with a current PB of 7.45 or 100 10.94)

    8-9. Zachery Ziemek - double Z is another decathlete who had a good year In 2014. Broke his decathlon PB and several individual events while looking all the time like a 8,000+ athlete. Like Scantling unlikely to challenge for a spot in the US team before he graduate from college (especially given Wisconsin over used of their multi-event athletes).
    2014 - Broke his decathlon PB by 120 points (7,981). Few large improvements in his individual events including very good LJ (7.73 vs. 7.34) and a good DT (47.44 vs. 44.45). Overall he broke his sum of PBs by close to 300 points which is the best of all ranked athletes.
    Next year wish list 1) another large improvement like 2014’s 2) return to the days of 5.40 PV

    10. Kevin Lazas - got the last place in my ranking before athletes with higher credential (Murphy, Horn) and those that started shinning this year (McCune, Dick, Morgan). Since the winter of 2013 Lazas has struggled with both injuries and personal problems. But if he will return to form this year he may put a challenge for Rio 2016.
    2014 - still below par with only 7512 SB, broke only one PB in the JT (62.18 vs. 60.08).
    Next year wish - 1) The return of Lazas of winter 2013

    Out of the list - there are several decathletes that I left out of the top 10 list (and thus giving my track record one of them is likely to make it to Rio). Isaac Murphy (PB 8068) and the ever fighting Grey Horn are the two most likely athletes to be the dark horse. Morrison and Bahner may also surprise with a comeback. However, I think that none of them are good enough to make it. Similarly, one of the new guys on the block may surprise but I cannot see them ready in time for Rio.
    Last edited by olorin; 09-27-2014, 01:01 PM.


    • #3
      Beach has perhaps taken the biggest step towards improving his lot, hooking up with John Godina's group in Phoenix, as reported several weeks back.


      • #4
        Thanks, olorin, for the informative and helpful post.


        • #5
          Originally posted by DecFan View Post
          Thanks, olorin, for the informative and helpful post.
          But I'm going long on the Scantling stock.
          8300 2015, 8500 2016 for a Oly team spot. :-)


          • #6
            Originally posted by Atticus View Post
            But I'm going long on the Scantling stock.
            8300 2015, 8500 2016 for a Oly team spot. :-)
            8500 in two years will make Scantling a collegiate record holder. This is possible but at the top end of my own prediction. The problem for Scantling is that even if he will have a PB of ~8500 points before the trials he is still unlikely to be a favourite for the team. Both Eaton and Hardee (if healthy) are likely to score more. Nixon and one of the next three ranked in my list (Taiwo, Beach and Cato) are also likely to be in ~8500 shape before Rio. With the NCAA only couple of weeks before the trials Scantling will be in a major disadvantage compared with the rest. Note, that Scantling sum of PBs is 230 points behind Nixon and ~150 points behind Taiwo and Beach. I like Scantling but I will short-sell you his stocks :-)


            • #7
              I hope that Beach has recovered from that bad arm.


              • #8
                Originally posted by olorin View Post
                I like Scantling but I will short-sell you his stocks :-)
                I may have been a tad hyperbolic, but I have faith!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by beebee View Post
                  I hope that Beach has recovered from that bad arm.
                  His Tommy John was in June; number I see most commonly bandied about is a full year before complete recovery.


                  • #10
                    Unfortunately, I do not think Cato is going to make that level; he finished the season probably with injuries or protecting the injuries he had picked up earlier. Other than his jumps on a couple occasions it was not a good year from him. [Observation, no inside info]


                    • #11
                      Cato was the hardest to ranked. On the one hand, he suffered severe injuries in the last two years that kept him from progressing in the decathlon (his PB is only 7616). On the other hand, he has so much talent that one feels (well at least me) that two years injury free (and competing less) can see him in the fight for the ticket to Rio.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by gh View Post
                        His Tommy John was in June; number I see most commonly bandied about is a full year before complete recovery.
                        Worth noting that Trey Hardee had Tommy John in September of 2012 and was already throwing reasonably near his best by the next June.