LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Bates senior David Hardison jumped from eighth to fifth place over the final two events of the decathlon on Friday at the NCAA Division III Track & Field Championships, scoring a career-high 6,541 points and winning his first All-America honor.
Hardison's (South Portland, Maine) feat offset three of his teammates missing out on finals on Friday: senior David Pless (Atlanta, Ga.) in the hammer throw, and senior James LePage (Cumberland, Maine) and junior Mark McCauley (Cumberland, Maine) in the 800.
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 becomes 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.
In the preliminary heats of the 800 meters, LePage, the third seed in the event, finished third in the first of three heats, one place away from automatically making the final. The two-time All-American's time of 1:52.87 trailed heat runner-up Sean Royer of Wisconsin-La Crosse by .34 seconds, and LePage settled for 12th place overall.
McCauley, the sixth seed, ran in what would be the fastest heat of the day, and was also the top finisher to miss the finals, taking fifth in the race at 1:51.98, good for 11th place overall.
Pless fouled on his first two attempts in the first round of the hammer throw, forcing him to make the third one count. His heave of 57.10 meters, or 187 feet and 4 inches, vaulted him to 13th place from last, but it was 4 feet and 11 inches short of the ninth and final qualifier into the second round. It is only the second time Pless has missed a final in an NCAA Championship event, in his 11th opportunity.
Bates will have a busy final day of NCAAs on Saturday, with junior Mike Martin (Slatersville, R.I.) in the finals of the 3,000-meter steeplechase at 2:10pm Central, senior Nick Barron (Kirkwood, Mo.) in the finals of the 1,500 at 3pm, and Pless and sophomore Sean Enos (Lynnfield, Mass.) in the shot put starting at 4pm.
Enos uncorked a huge personal record on his final effort in the discus throw to vault past five athletes, including friend and teammate Pless, to claim fourth place and his first All-America honor on Thursday.
Pless also reached the finals and placed seventh for his ninth career All-America honor, two more than any other male athlete in Bates history. Pless made the finals on his third and final effort of the preliminary round, at 51.67 meters, then moved up to third place briefly on his first effort in the finals, 52.84 meters, or 173 feet and 4 inches.
Enos, whose previous career-best in the discus was 167-3 (50.97 meters), went 50.86 meters on his first attempt of the day, good enough for the ninth and final spot in the finals. Enos improved to a personal-record 51.36 on his penultimate attempt, after fouling twice in a row, but he remained in ninth going into his final attempt. Enos stepped up on his final try, going 174-9, or 53.27 meters, 2.30 meters beyond his PR when the day began. It is the first time he has ever defeated Pless, his close friend and training partner. (Video: Sean Enos 2013 NCAA Discus)
Enos becomes Bates’ third-ever All-American discus thrower, joining Pless and Peter Goodrich ’89, and the 31st All-American athlete in Bates’ outdoor track and field history. Pless became Bates’ first-ever two-time All-American in the event.
Barron provided another highlight for Bates in the trials of the 1,500 meters, running the seventh-fastest time in the field, at 3:52.66, to reach the finals, which are open to the top 12 times in prelims. Barron was the 18th seed among 20 athletes entering the race.
Hardison stood in 12th place among 20 competitors halfway through the two-day decathlon event, which concludes on Friday. He led off the day with a personal-record time of 11.35 seconds in the 100-meter dash, ninth-fastest in the field of 20 decathletes, for 784 points, and he finished strong, with the second-fastest time in the 400 meters, and another personal record, at 50.25 seconds, good for 803 points. Hardison has 3,400 points, just eight shy of 11th-lace Maxwell Dunne of St. Thomas (Minn.) and 22 shy of Tufts’ Michael Blair.
Martin made it a nearly perfect day for the Bobcats in the final individual event of the night, the trials of the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Running in the second of two heats, Martin finished in 9:11.82, the 13th-fastest time among 20 competitors overall.