Madison sports fans will be presented with a special opportunity May 11-13 when the Big Ten Outdoor Track & Field Championships come to town. Some of the best athletes in the country, kids who can run, leap and throw better than any college football or basketball players, will be strutting their stuff at the McClimon Complex. And the athletic royalty among them, the best of the best, are the multi-event athletes.
These are the men who compete in the decathlon, a collection of 10 events (sprinting, distance running, jumping, throwing) spread over two days. The women's version, the heptathlon, is seven events.
Dorcas Akinniyi, a UW junior ranked 12th in the country, won the conference heptathlon in 2010 but failed to clear the qualifying height in the high jump at last year's conference meet. Teammate Jessica Flax, a senior ranked eighth, took advantage and won the title, setting up a possible tiebreaker this year. They'll be joined in the field by UW sophomore Deanna Latham, ranked 18th. The trio finished first, second and third, respectively, in the Big Ten indoor meet's pentathlon, with Akinniyi going on to finish second at nationals.
There's a similar story on the men's side, where UW sophomore Jay Cato is the 19th-ranked decathlete in the country, followed closely by senior Dave Grzesiak at 22nd. Like Akinniyi, Cato is coming off a Big Ten indoor title (Grzesiak was second) and runner-up finish at the NCAA indoor meet.
This Saturday's Wisconsin Open meet, also at the McClimon Complex, won't feature the heptathlon or decathlon, but the athletes will compete in a couple of events against the specialists. At next weekend's championships, the multi-events take place on Friday and Saturday. See uwbadgers.com for a complete schedule.