The NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships represented the end of another fantastic year for the Bates men's track and field and cross country programs.
The Bobcats followed the three days of the meet through to a ninth-place finish as a team, with a fighting spirit exemplified as much as anyone else by senior decathlete David Hardison, who has been the consummate hard-working "gym rat" through four hard years of training. Hardison vaulted from eighth to fifth place over the final two events of the decathlon to claim his first All-America honor.
Bates sent a team-record seven athletes, none of them in relays, to the championship meet, and returned home with four All-America honors, including the school-record ninth and 10th such honors in the illustrious career of David Pless (Atlanta, Ga.), as well as sophomore Sean Enos's (Lynnfield, Mass.) first career All-America plaudit, for placing fourth in the discus throw.
Hardison (South Portland, Maine) made his return trip to NCAAs (he placed 19th in the decathlon at the 2012 championship) a triumphant one, a remarkable final statement of an inspirational career. Hardison, the 10th seed in the event among 20 competitors going in, set personal bests in the final two events of the decathlon, the javelin throw and the 1,500 meters, a day after setting two other personal records. The New England Division III decathlon champion launched a personal-record javelin throw of 166 feet and 2 inches, or 50.66 meters, exceeding his previous best by 2.29 meters. Incredibly, it was his third personal record of the meet, following Thursday’s PR’s in the 100 meters (11.35) and the 400 meters (50.25).
The team captain wasn’t finished with his end-of-career heroics. Hardison finished his final race as a Bobcat, the 1,500, in 4:40.17, ninth-fastest in the field but 1.17 seconds faster than he had ever run the distance before. His PR entering the race was 4:41.34, established in 2012.
Hardison started the day with the fourth-fastest time in the field in the 110-meter high hurdles, at 15.27 seconds.
Hardison became Bates’ second-ever All-America decathlete, following Joe Northrup ’05, who placed eighth in 2003 and seventh in 2004. He also becomes Bates’ 32nd All-American male athlete in outdoor track and field.
Hardison's superior grades over the years made him one of the six-time NESCAC All-Academic selection, an NCAA Academic All-American and a member of the Bates Scholar-Athlete Society.