GENEVA, Ohio -- A second-place finish in the long jump helped Lewis & Clark sophomore Noah Avery finish in 14th place after the first day of decathlon events at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships at SPIRE Institute on Thursday.
Avery set a career-best jump of 21 feet, 10 inches (6.65m) in his first attempt at the long jump, the decathlon's second event, and tied for second with Jeremy Lee of Wisc.-Stevens Point. Tobias Muellers of Williams won the event with a mark of 22 feet, 8.5 inches (6.92m).
"I had a lot of confidence in that event," said Avery, who finished third in the decathlon at the Northwest Conference Championships Multi-Events. "We've been practicing that a lot and that just carried over."
The NWC Championships concluded about 45 days prior to the NCAA Championships starting, so Avery has had a big layoff between his last decathlon and Thursday's. He did compete in some of the decathlon's events individually since Apr. 10-11.
Overall, Jack Flood, the nation's top qualifier, leads the event with 3,611 points. Avery has 3,258 points, 97 behind the top 10. Avery entered the event with the nation's 19th-best point total. He leads both George Fox competitors who finished ahead of him at the NWC Championships.
Through the first five events, Avery has three top-10 finishes. Avery was near the top five in shot put, placing sixth with a throw of 38 feet, 5.5 inches (11.72m). In the high jump, he was seventh with a leap of 6 feet, 0.5 inches (1.84m).
"He had a really good first day," said Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Keith Woodard. "It's always interesting to see how the first-time student-athletes respond to all of the atmosphere and hype and everything. Noah's handling it really well."
"There are top-notch athletes here," said Avery. "There's a lot at stake. People want to get that national championship.
"I came in ranked number 19, and I'm higher than that right now, so I'll keep at it and see if I can knock out a few more."
Day two of the event is scheduled to begin with the 110-meter hurdles at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Friday.
"Hurdles are crucial for him. We need to get that race going," said Woodard. "He's been looking great on the pole vault lately in practice, so hopefully we can get a big mark in that. He can compete and duke it out with those who are really close to him."
A high quantity of rain fell throughout the competition on Thursday, reminiscent of some of the worst precipitation days in the Pacific Northwest. The weather moved the high jump inside and caused havoc with events like the shot put.
"Shot is usually a strong event, but with bad weather and a slick ring, it held everyone back," said Woodard. "Long jump was a standout for today with the big PR and that got him going a little bit again. The other events were solid. "
Coming into the NCAA Championships, Avery had set a new personal record in all of his decathlon events this season - except the long jump. His season best came at the NWC Championships, where he finished 10th in the conference. On Thursday, he finished second in the country.
Avery said rest and focus will be key on Friday, which features the discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500 meters in addition to the hurdles.
"Get some sleep. Ice. Refocus. Replan. Breakdown the events and take it one step at a time," said Avery.
"It's a lot of fun watching Noah get after it and have Lewis & Clark represented by a great student-athlete like him," said Woodard.
The top eight finishers receive recognition on the podium at the decathlon's conclusion. Avery is 123 points out of eighth position entering Friday and 257 points out of third place.