Why would six dog-tired teenagers weary from an entire season of track and field competition pass up a postseason vacation to go all-Jim Thorpe and enter a decathlon?
But a group of Payson High School athletes did just that by entering the Arizona Decathlon Championships held May 17 to 18 at Queen Creek High School.
The decathlon is widely considered the most grueling competition in sports because it involves 10 track and field events over the course of two days.
Opening day events include the 100 meters, discus, pole vault, javelin and 200 meters.
The 100-meter hurdles, long jump, shot put, high jump and 1500 meters are contested on the second day.
The events are so demanding that the winner of the Olympic Decathlon is traditionally called the “World’s Greatest Athlete.”
As punishing as the decathlon is no matter what the level, a field of 43 athletes from around the state turned out for the Arizona boys competition and nine for the girls.
From Payson High in the boys decathlon, Richard Nielson was ninth, Logan Morris 10th, Payson Bobier 21st, Kyle Brown 28th and Brian Skinner 29th.
In the girls field, Danya Svir was fourth overall.
Bobier turned in probably the most remarkable performance among the PHS boys, winning the 1500 meters in 4:43.19.
Rendering the feat even more impressive is that during the course of the regular season, Bobier did not compete in long distance running, instead he focused on the 400 meters and the relays.
Morris also turned in a commendable 1500 effort taking third in 4:44.65.
The 100 meters turned into another showcase for Bobier to show off his talents.
In it, he turned on the afterburners to take third in 11.16.
Also in the dash, Morris and Nielson ran identical times of 11.81 to tie for 17th.
Brown’s best decathlon effort was a first place in the discus with a toss of 124 feet, 2 inches and a second in the shot put with a heave of 40 feet, 9.5 inches.
Also in the shot put, Skinner was 12th (34 feet, 9 inches) and Bobier 15th (34 feet, 4.25 inches).
The javelin renders the decathlon particularly tough for Arizona high school athletes because the event is not a part of regulation track and field meets. Which means, the PHS students who entered the decathlon had limited or no experience in the event.
Nonetheless, Nielson was third (134 feet, 2 inches), Skinner fifth (123 feet, 4 inches) and Brown 17th (112 feet, 1 inch).
In the pole vault, Nielson did coach Bo Althoff proud soaring over the bar at 12 feet, 5.5 inches to tie for fourth.
Vaulting 11 feet, 5.75 inches, Morris tied for ninth.
Morris also showed particularly well in the high jump tying for sixth with a leap of 5 feet, 9 inches.
Skinner went over the bar at 5 feet, 5.75 inches and was second among the Payson contingent, 13th overall.
The 110-meter hurdles proved particularly tough for the PHS athletes with only Nielson doing well with a 15th place finish in 17.35.
In the long jump, Nielson leaped 18 feet, 7 inches to garner 17th. Skinner was 22nd (17 feet, 9 inches) and Brown 23rd just .25 of an inch behind Nielson.
At the conclusion of decathlons, points are calculated on times and distances.
Nielson’s total of 5,230 was 1,352 off the winning score racked up by decathlon champion Timothy Duckworth of Scottsdale Arcadia.
Svir’s best performance in the 10 events was a gold medal victory in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet, 1 inch.
The next highest jump was 4 feet, 5 inches by Mesa Mountain View’s Kyndal Stewart.
Svir, a junior at Payson High, racked up second place finishes in the 400-meter dash (1:03.70) and 1500 meters (5:55.89) and was third in the javelin (83 feet, 6 inches).
She was fifth in both the discus throw (49 feet, 1 inch) and shot put (22 feet, 1.50 inches).
In the pole vault, she struggled to an eighth place showing at 6 feet.
Svir’s point total of 4,528 was 293 off the pace of decathlon champion Kija Bramwell of Mesa Mountain View.