GENEVA, Ohio -- Noah Avery finished as the top Northwest Conference decathlete at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships after placing in the top 10 of five events and 14th overall. The decathlon concluded on Friday at the SPIRE Institute.
Avery ended the competition with 6,052 points to remain in 14th, his day one position. Following finishes outside of the top 15 in his first two events on Friday, Avery bounced back to place seventh the pole vault and eighth in the javelin. Those two top-10 finishes combined with three from Thursday's first day of events.
"Feels great," said Avery after the final event. "It was a long couple days, but I'm glad to be through that and have this experience. I can learn from that."
Avery was one of six underclassmen in the field. He finished ahead of all but two of the others and was just 12 points behind one of the two ahead of him.
After placing third at the NWC Championships in April, Avery ended ahead of the two competitors who beat him at the conference meet. Alex Canchola, the NWC champion, and John Koch were 17th and 18th at the NCAA Championships, respectively.
"It's always a good sign when you finish higher than the ranking that you started in," said Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Keith Woodard about Avery's performance. "He came in ranked 19th, finished 14th and beat the two George Fox athletes who beat him at the conference meet, so a nice ending to the season."
In the pole vault, Avery approached his all-time best, clearing the bar on his first try at 13 feet, 9.25 inches (4.20m). His personal best is 13 feet, 10.5 inches. Following scratches in his first two throws of the javelin, the next event, Avery threw the eighth-best mark of anyone in the field at 156 feet, 9 inches (47.77m).
"Pole vault stood out. I had a tough start and missed my first two attempts. Ended up jumping an inch under my PR, but it took a lot of jumps," said Avery, who continued by discussing the javelin. "There was lots of tension. I scratched my first two, so I had to get one. A huge relief when I got that one in."
"The pole vault was a big one," said Woodard. "That one was the second-best ever and the best he's done in a decathlon, so that was a good one. He had to come back from almost going out at lower heights and did a good job of competing."
Avery started the day with his two of his three lowest finishes of the entire decathlon. He posted a 16.99 mark in the 110-meter hurdles, an event in which he set his personal best last month during the NWC Championships Multi-Events. In the discus, Avery threw 96 feet, 11 inches (29.54m) to place 20th. His last throw was marked further but landed on the line, which made it a scratch.
Woodard believes Avery's experience as an underclassman will benefit him entering his junior and senior seasons.
"We'll work on that in fall track. We'll work on some of his technique events and his overall fitness and speed. That should build his confidence."
On Thursday, Avery was 14th following the first five events after top-10 finishes in the high jump, shot put and long jump, the last of which he placed second.
Following the final event on Friday, the 1,500 meters, the decathletes congratulated one another, smiled and posed for a picture on the south end of the track. Avery had been in Ohio and around the other competitors since Monday.
"Everyone wants to win, but once it is finished, all that tension that's built up - everyone relaxes and smiles," said Avery.
"Noah's very unassuming and down to earth, and laid back," said Woodard. "Some people misinterpret that. He's super competitive. When he decides he's going after something, he goes and does it. So, he's got that nice combination of relaxed effort that can bring out the best in you."
Avery finished 113 points out of eighth place, which qualifies for All-American status, and was just over 250 points from third place. Jack Flood of Cortland State, who had the highest qualifying mark prior to the NCAA Championships, won the title by 50 points over his teammate, Connor Christopher. Isaac Frazier of Simpson was third.