DII Men's Outdoor Track and Field: Chico State is a decathlete factory
On the first weekend in May, Chico State junior Lane Andrews left Chico State University Stadium humbled by what he accomplished in the decathlon at the California Collegiate Athletic Association Track and Field Championships.
Andrews not only won the decathlon, he broke a 32-year-old meet record with a score of 7,263, which automatically qualified him for the Division II Championships May 25-27 in Bradenton, Florida.
“It is really cool actually,” Andrews said. “All the events just lined up. It put me in a position to break it, which I didn’t think I could do beforehand, but it worked out. I know any other Chico State athlete could have broken that record. I was just fortunate enough to do it at conference.”
Andrews knows as well as anybody the decathlete factory Chico State track and field team has become over the years.
When Andrews arrived in the 2013-14 school year, he saw a veteran group of decathletes that proved to be the best in the NCAA regardless of classification. Led by J.P. Smith, who won his third straight national title in the decathlon, Teddy Eisenbaumer and John Brunk, the Wildcats were awarded the Webb Cup.
The Webb Cup, named after retired Tennessee track coach Bill Webb, started in 2013 to honor schools that have quality depth in the decathlon. The Webb Cup goes to the school that leads the nation in the decathlon.
“When Lane arrived, he was immersed in an amazing culture,” said Chico State track coach Oliver Hanf. “He was exposed to it from day one.”
Any of the top three decathletes from 2014 could have set the conference meet record in the decathlon. But at the CCAA meet, Hanf wants to maximize the points to help the Wildcats win the team title so many times he puts his top decathletes in individual events.
That was the strategy again this season. Helped by the growth of Andrews and the continued improvement of several junior college transfers from a year ago, Hanf has another group of decathletes that come close to rivaling the 2014 team.
In order for Chico State to win the CCAA team title, Hanf once again put some of his top decathletes in individual events. It worked. Chico State won its 13th CCAA title in the last 14 years.
“We have a motto of having a big core of decathletes,” Hanf said. “Hopefully, each year you have one or two or more that get to nationals. They qualified early so at the conference meet, they don’t do the decathlon at conference and you can get more points in the other events.”
Because of the success of seniors Phillip Bailey, Jason Dunn and Aaron Martin, they weren’t needed in the decathlon.
Simply put, Chico State is extremely deep with high-quality decathletes. Bailey’s score of 7,630 ranks first in Division II and Dunn is second at 7,494. Martin is fifth at 7,315 and Andrews is sixth with his score at the conference meet.
“I wouldn’t be close to where I am today without these guys,” Andrews said. “Having the opportunity to train behind J.P. Teddy and John my freshman year and then Aaron, Phil and Jason now, it is incredible, a great opportunity.”
How important was Andrews’ score at the CCAA meet?
“He kind of changed our history a little bit,” Hanf said. “He’s our conference record holder now. We looked at the conference record and thought a Chico State athlete should hold it.”
When Martin, Dunn and Bailey arrived at Chico State, somebody joked that they sounded like a law firm.
“Somebody recently thought Lane Andrews is doing his best effort to become a junior partner in the law firm,” Hanf said. “Now that he scored an automatic mark, I think he is a full-fledged partner in the firm.”
There is no joking around when the decathletes at Chico State train for their events. Andrews said he likes the decathlon because he is always working on different events.
“I would probably get sick and tired of running hurdles if that was the only thing I did,” Andrews said. “Doing 10 events, you always have something to work on.”
It is a mindset, Hanf said. And Hanf should know. He did his Master’s thesis on the decathlon.
“It is a culture, a way of thinking, a lifestyle,” Hanf said. “The amount of work, commitment and dedication are beyond what you can describe. It is so much more than that. What separates these guys, is their mindsets. Being at that elite level, you think it, breathe it.”
Hanf plans to use all his top decathletes at the national meet.
“They are all doing it,” Hanf said. “It is not a secret. They want to score a lot of points. We are in this for a trophy. There are a lot of good schools in there. We have to put our best foot forward.”
Based on his major, Andrews can figure all the angles on what it will take for Chico State to compete for a national championship. Andrews is majoring in mechatronic engineering.
“It is a mix of electrical, mechanical and a little computer science,” Andrews said. “It is basically mechanical engineering with a focus on automation.”
On the track, Andrews is once again part of a group that can do something special that could long live in the Chico State trophy case.
“It was crazy to think we could repeat what we had in 2014,” Hanf said. “That bar was set so high. But this year’s point totals are spot on to that year.”
Lincoln University men’s track and field Co-MIAA champions
Lincoln University, ranked third in the USTFCCCA top 25, broke two meet records and tied Central Missouri for first May 5-7 at the MIAA Track and Field Championships. Each team scored 135 points.
Trailing by four points entering the last event, the 4x400 relay team of senior Darran Hunter, sophomore Faedion Royes, sophomore Kevon Robinson and junior Miguel Barton took first with a meet record of 3:09.70. Central Missouri took third in the event to forge a tie.
Royes also set a meet record in the 400-meter dash with a time of 46.27.
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