Franklin Field's precarious winds and short High Jump apron were not conducive to big scores in the Decathlon events, but winning a Penn Relays Champion's Watch is a big score.
Few meets rival the history and tradition of the Penn Relays. Even though the big crowds wait for the weekend's events, the Decathletes and Heptathletes still vie for the Gold Watch and the venerable title of Penn Relays Champion. This year two Division III student-athletes claimed the titles - Ithaca's Emma Dewart in the Heptathlon, and CNU junior Richard Roethel (Farmingville, NY) in the Decathlon.
Photo Credit: The Penn Relays Office
Roethel started out with a very solid 11.19 run in to a 1.1m/s headwind, but on the other side of the stadium, the changing winds played havoc with the Decathletes' Long Jump approaches. Roethel finally landed a modest 6.43m/21-1.25 jump and headed out of the stadium to the throwing venues. The junior didn't quite find his best Shot Put rhythm, but his 12.67m/41-7 throw was a Decathlon PR by about 8".
Back in the stadium for the High Jump - Roethel's best individual event - he had to contend with a short apron as well as the gusting winds. His first turn steps were still on the field-turf surface which made for a tentative lean and then a late transition on to the take-off area. While he matched the best efforts of his competitors, the 1.98m/6-6 clearance was well short of his expectations. Still, with a 51.39 lap for the final event of the day (just a half second off his PR), he finished with 3691 points and a comfortable Day 1 lead.
Day 2 started with a mild aiding wind (0.8m/s) for the 110m Hurdles. Roethel beat the field by nearly half a second with his 15.44 to extend his lead. He gave up a little ground in the Discus, but his 35.43m/116-3 was just 3' shy of his best and kept him close to his PR pace for the Decathlon.
Event number 8, the Pole Vault, had been problematic for Roethel under the best of conditions since breaking a pole at the Indoor National Championships. The varying winds were no help. With his closest rival suffering a no-height, Roethel wrenched his way over 4.10m/13-5.25 to match his Decathlon best. Now with a lot of breathing room, he launched a big PR 55.32m/181-6 in the Javelin and entered the 1500m with a shot at his lifetime best score and the 7,000 point barrier. After strong start on pace, he flagged a bit to 4:53.53 and fell just short of his PR. His 6971 points, though, were plenty for the win and ranked him #1 on the year in Division III so far.
The Captains will lean on Roethel's multi-event talents as they look to defend their Mason-Dixon Title at Gwynedd-Mercy College on May 5th and 6th.