Event: Big West Conference Multi-Event Championships; Sac State Open
Where: Anteater Stadium – Irvine, Calif.; Hornet Stadium – Sacramento, Calif.
When: Friday and Saturday, all day; Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
Who to watch: When Will Guthrie and Robert Neely get into their blocks for the 100m, they will be the first Aggie decathletes to compete at the Big West Championships.
While the main contingent will contest the conference championships a week later, Guthrie and Neely are looking to put some early points on the board to give the Aggies a shot at a Big West title.
“I’m very excited going into Big West,” said Guthrie. “This will be my first decathlon that actually counts for something. The goal is to score some points for the team and get us started off right in conference.“
Did you know? While no current Aggie decathlete competed at the Big West Championships last year, UC Davis was well represented in the event at that summer’s Olympic Trials.
Former Aggie great Matt Chisam finished 15th, scoring a total of 7,429 points. More recently, Chisam took fourth at the USA Track and Field Indoor Heptathlon Championships, tallying 5,443 points.
Preview: This weekend is all about points.
Unlike other events, the decathlon uses a point system, where the result of each of the 10 events – 100m, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m on day one; 110m hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1,500m on day two – are converted to points.
But more importantly, it is about scoring points for the team as it enters its second-ever Big West Championships.
“The goal is to PR and get as many points for the team as possible,” said Neely. “It feels great being the first ones to compete Division I for Davis. Will and I are just going to go out there and try to start it off right.“
The battle for team points will be tough, as the fourth seed is only 248 points ahead of Guthrie’s personal best of 5,824 in eighth. The top eight athletes score points for their teams.
While seeded outside the scoring, Neely isn’t far behind with a personal best of 5,763 in ninth. Both Guthrie and Neely have only competed in one decathlon, so their potential is not necessarily reflected in their seed marks.
“I may have only competed in one decathlon,” said Neely, “but I don’t think it’s a factor now that I have one under my belt. We train so much and have become so familiar with the events that I don’t feel at any disadvantage.“
Guthrie realizes he will have to step up if he expects to score, but is confident he can get the job done.
“To do that I’ll need to top 6,000 points, and that is definitely what I expect out of myself,” Guthrie said. “I feel like I’m peaking at the right time in terms of health and performance, so I’m ready to go.“
In addition to Guthrie and Neely at the Big West Multi-Event Championships, the Aggies will be sending some athletes to the Sac State Open for tune-up work and mark chasing to prepare for conference competition next week. There they will face top universities as well as clubs, including No. 12 California, No. 17 Stanford and Horsecow.
– Alex Wolf-Root