If a Mt. Rushmore of Chico State athletes existed, someone would be studying a photo of J Patrick Smith and sharpening their giant chisel right now.
Smith became the third two-time NCAA Champion in Chico State Athletics history (among the 13 current programs) Friday – joining golfer J.J. Jakovac (2002 & 2004) and distance runner Scott Bauhs (2007 10,000-meter champion & 2008 5,000-meter champion) – by winning his second consecutive national title in the decathlon Friday at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl in Pueblo, Colo.
Smith broke his own school record, the stadium record, and came within 33 points of an all-time Division II top-10 score with 7,612 points, easily outdistancing second-place Justin Balczak (7,387).
The junior from Santa Barbara also logged a USA Outdoors Track & Field Championships B Qualifying Standard. His total is the 12th highest in the nation this year. So he could be headed to the USA Outdoors Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, June 20-23.
“It’s a dream of mine to compete at that level with those guys,” said Smith. “It’s really a benchmark in my career.”
Smith tied the NCAA Decathlon Championship record in the long jump Thursday with the third longest personal-record leap in Chico State history: 24-feet-7.25. That, and his win in the 100-meters, put him atop of the leaderboard to stay. Friday, he uncorked a 20-foot PR in the javelin (the fourth of five events) with a throw of 191-feet-2 to virtually seal the deal.
“That pretty much sewed things up for him to run a conservative 1,500, which is important when you’re up here at altitude,” said Hanf. “It was just guts and going for glory.”
It was also a shocking result as far as Smith was concerned. He PR’d in the javelin in his first event of the season, but has been regressing ever since.
“It was incredible,” said Smith. “Javelin was the last thing I expected to PR in.”
Smith registered PRs in five of the event’s 10 disciplines: 100 meters, long jump, 400 meters, discus and javelin. He also posted a season-best effort in the high jump.
“That was super-awesome,” said Hanf. “Not only did he answer the call as the defending champion, but now he’ll be going for a three-peat.”
Smith’s the ninth back-to-back Division II decathlon champion ever. He has a chance join Abilene Christian University alum Camille Vandendriessche as the only three-time winner of the event next season. Ironically, some of his biggest competition will likely come in the form of his own teammates.
John Brunk finished fourth at the 2012 NCAA Championships but redshirted this year and has one season of competition remaining.
And Theodore Elsenbaumer’s hopes to dethrone Smith were dashed when he failed to record a height in the pole vault Friday – a heartbreaking turn of events. He was in third place before what is usually one of his best events. But after passing on the first eight heights (along with a number of other competitors) he failed three times at 12-feet-5.5 and did not register a score.
Elsenbaumer’s PR in the event is 15-feet-1.
“Teddy’s first comments to me after the vault were: ‘Coach, can we figure out if there’s still a way for me to get eighth?’” said Hanf. “He was a man. He was very courageous.
The junior from San Francisco City College nearly did. He finishing ninth, just five points out of eighth place and All-America honors.
He went out very aggressively in the 1,500 and led for much of the race. But the winds and altitude eventually wore him down.
“It was a very inspiring effort,” said Hanf. “He put himself out there at risk and it got real painful. He just kind of crashed and burned at the end.”
Had he cleared 15-feet-1 and finished the final two events the same way, Elsenbaumer would have finished second overall with the second best score in school history.