June 22, 2003
PALO ALTO, Calif. - Sunday marked yet another career day for former Vol Tom Pappas, Tennessee's most decorated decathlete, as he bettered legendary Dan O'Brien's USA Outdoor Championships meet record in the decathlon. Pappas won his third U.S. decathlon title and locked up a spot on the U.S. team for the World Championships with his career-best score of 8,784. Meanwhile, former Vol Tim Mack took the last U.S. qualifying spot for the World Championships in the pole vault with his third-place, 18-8.25 clearance at Stanford's Cobb Track and Angell Field.
With his 8,784 winner, Pappas topped O'Brien's meet record of 8,726 and shattered his own previous lifetime best of 8,585. Pappas' score moved him past such luminaries as Bruce Jenner, Steve Fritz, Chris Huffins and Dave Johnson on the all-time decathlon list.
"I'm relatively healthy and I am on a real high after this meet," Pappas said. "I think it's going to take this score to win at the worlds. My goal was to make it on the world team and win. I didn't have a goal for points. I am very pleased. After the long jump, I thought I had a chance for a big score.
Pappas didn't win any of the five events Sunday but finished in the top three of events six through nine to post an insurmountable lead. Runner-up Bryan Clay scored 8,482, a whopping 302 points less than red-hot Pappas, now competing for Nike. Pappas took third in the 110m hurdles to start his day with a 14.13 time. Next up, he took second in the discus with a 150-5 effort. In the pole vault, Pappas tied for second with a 17-0.25 clearance. He nabbed third in the javelin with a 199-4 heave. Needing to finish the meet-capping 1,500m run in 4:57 to break O'Brien's meet record, Pappas clocked in at 4:48.12 to take 12th and easily rewrite his name on the top of the list.
However, Vol Stephen Harris wasn't so lucky as the Tennessee captain took
16th with 7,093 points, more than 1,000 points below his lifetime best. He
met misfortune in the skies over the pole vault pit with a no height on the
eighth of 10 events. Harris passed on the opening height of 13-5.25 before
taking three misses at 13-9.25. The rest of his day was respectable, however.
Harris' second-day marks include a fourth-place, 14.44 in the 110m hurdles, a
15th-place, 130-10 in the discus, no height in the pole vault, 12th-place,
175-5 in the javelin and 10th-place, 4:46.51 in the 1,500m run.
Meanwhile, former Vol Chad Smith finished 15th with 7,100 points. Smith took 17th in 17.98 in the 110m hurdles, eighth with a 140-7 in the discus, fifth with a 16-0.75 in the pole vault, 16th with a 167-4 in the javelin and 15th in the 1,500m run with a 4:57.80.
Tennessee also got some good news in the pole vault to counterbalance Harris' tough break. Former Vol Mack, now competing for Nike, pierced the California sky for an 18-8.25 clearance in the pole vault. Mack took third, the last spot on the U.S. team for the World Championships in August. Champion Jeff Hartwig of Nike also cleared 18-8.25 but got bumped up on misses. Mack passed at 17-10.5 before clearing 18-2.5 on his second attempt. Mack needed three attempts to clear 18-6.5, but just one leap to surpass the 18-8.25 bar. Mack missed three chances at 18-10.25.
However, former Vol Lawrence Johnson came into the competition at 18-8.25, but no heighted.
Sunday's action concludes the USA Outdoor Championships.