May 7, 2011
TUCSON, Ariz. - Husky junior Jeremy Taiwo can now lay claim to being the best all-around athlete in the Pac-10 Conference, as he captured the decathlon title today at the Pac-10 Multi-Event Championships at University of Arizona's Drachman Stadium. Taiwo is the first Husky to wear the crown since Mike Ramos in 1986, who won the title on his way to a national championship.
Taiwo thrived despite a grueling two days in the Arizona heat, as he surpassed his previous career-best point total by over 200 points, scoring 7,742. Were it not for an elbow issue that caused Taiwo to throw the javelin with his opposite left hand and thus place last in that event, Taiwo could have broken the elite 8,000 point barrier, which no collegian has done this year. But Taiwo was so strong in every other area that he could survive his ambidextrous attempt in the javelin.
A Renton, Wash. native and Newport High product, Taiwo won the decathlon at the 2008 Washington State Multi-Events Championship. He will put 10 points on the board for the Huskies to work with when they head down to Tucson next weekend for the rest of the Pac-10 Championships. Taiwo was the Pac-10 runner-up a year ago and placed third as a freshman.
Coming off of five PRs on Friday and a career-best 4,215 opening day points, Taiwo knew he'd still be in for a battle with Oregon All-American David Klech if all went according to plan. But his phenomenal first day put him at ease.
"The first day was really fun for me. I started off how I wanted to, going under 11 (seconds in the 100m dash) and 24-feet in the long jump finally, and then I just kept it rolling," Taiwo said. "I tried to just have fun, stay relaxed, and I knew if I came out on top on day one, then winning would be that much easier."
Still, having the lead didn't make him sleep any easier, as Taiwo confessed to not being able to get any sleep Friday night. "I don't know what it was. I was just going from the floor to the bed trying to fall asleep but it didn't happen. So I had to come here and muster up some energy for the hurdles and then go through the motions a bit in the other stuff."
He found the necessary energy to start Saturday in the 110-meter hurdles, running a season-best 14.41 to take second overall, but Klech closed the gap as expected with a 13.94.
Taiwo had his first average event in the discus, throwing just 118-10, though that was still fifth out of all competitors. The pole vault would prove to be crucial, and the vault was the event that undercut Taiwo's title chances at the NCAA Indoor meet in March. Today he was rock solid, clearing 15-9 ¾, his best in a multi and near his overall PR, which tied for third and was two feet higher than Klech could clear, creating some separation.
That led to the javelin, where Taiwo chose to throw with his left hand due to an elbow injury. He managed just 107-feet, 9-inches (his right-handed PR being 176-2) but knew as long as he got any points on the board, he'd have a good chance to hold the lead with a good final 1,500-meter run.
"Not trying to sound overconfident, but I trusted my athletic ability enough to still be able to win even if I threw with my left hand, so I wasn't feeling like taking a risk," said Taiwo.
At the Mt. SAC Relays in April, Klech had beaten Taiwo in the final 1,500m run by 17-seconds. With greater stakes tonight, it was a different story. Even though he could have coasted in several seconds back and still been assured of the win, Taiwo chased down and passed Klech on the final lap to finish second overall in 4:18.69 and clinch the victory in style.
"He's a tremendous competitor and we had a lot of fun with everyone out there," Taiwo said of Klech. "When it came down to the (1500m) I knew I could sit back and just run close to a 4:30, but my mom said don't just try to follow him, go beat him, so I realized I had a little bit more with 150-meters to go and he wasn't really pushing it so I figured I might as well finish the race well."
Husky senior Andrew Ferleman wrapped up his final collegiate decathlon in 12th-place, scoring 6,281 points and getting his biggest point total in the 110-meter hurdles where he was fourth overall in 15.25 seconds for 820 points.
The women's heptathlon also wrapped up today with the final three events. Sophomore Sarah Schireman moved up to finish ninth for the second year in a row, but set a new career-best in the process with 4,657 points. That ties exactly with Shelley Pascoe (1991) for seventh on the school's Top-10 list. Freshman Shelby Williams completed her first conference multi-event in 10th-place with a season-best 4,372.
Schireman, an Everett native, made her biggest gains in the javelin today, as she threw a 14-foot personal best mark of 107-4. She carried that momentum to another PR in the 800-meters, as she placed third in the final event in 2:26.63. Williams had a PR in the long jump to start the day, going 17-0 ½. Her 81-4 javelin throw was also a four-foot best.
Next week the rest of the Huskies will head to Tucson and Taiwo will be on that trip as well, looking to score in some open events, as conference titles seem to take a backseat in his mind when the real prize is grabbing team points whenever possible.
"Hopefully I can just rest up and then come back Pac-10s and score more points for my team," said Taiwo on his way back to the hotel. "That's really all I want to do."