One for the Record Books
Falcon decathlete becomes two-time national champion
In less than 45 days this spring, Chris
Randolph ’06 hammered Seattle Pacific
University’s decathlon record — twice.
On April 13, 2006, he broke the 36-year-old
Falcon high point set by Steven Gough ’70.
Then, on May 26, the NCAA Field Athlete of
the Year trounced his own record by 260 points
and won the decathlon for the second year in a
row at the NCAA Division II Track and Field
Championships in Emporia, Kansas.
So when the new graduate from Lone Tree,
Colorado, says, “I’m pretty darn average all the
way across,” it’s hard not to laugh. Explains
Karl Lerum, Seattle Pacific’s head track and
field coach, being “average all the way across”
in a decathlon is an advantage over a competitor
who is stellar in, say, seven events but tanks
in three. “Chris and I talk about his finding a
state of mind where each event is important,
but not as important as the broader goal of
completing an entire decathlon,” he explains.
It’s working. A psychology major and two-time
academic all-conference selection, Randolph
holds Great Northwest Athletic
Conference (GNAC) records in six of the 10
decathlon events; he also accounts for numerous
SPU individual and team records. In
2005, he won the NCAA
national championship with
7,309 points. But he wasn’t
done — not by a long shot.
In April 2006, at the
Mount SAC Relays in Azusa,
California, he scored 7,612
points to break Gough’s
record of 7,520. “That was a
big mark,” says Jack Hoyt, former Seattle
Pacific head track and field coach who now
coaches at California Polytechnic State University.
“It was a historic record and one that
many others had tried to break.”
Two weeks later, Randolph also clipped
more than a half-second from the 400-meter
record set in 1968 by John Glancy ’70, now
director of graduate admissions at Seattle
Pacific. SPU assistant track and field coach
Doris Heritage, two-time Olympian and
five-time world cross country champion, saw
those records created: first
Gough’s and Glancy’s set
more than 30 years ago, and
then Randolph’s record-book
reset in 2006. “If ever anyone
beats your record, you want
it to be Chris,” she says.
“Spiritually, academically, and
athletically, Chris is someone
we want to represent our school.”
In Emporia for the 2006 national championships,
Randolph not only won the decathlon
crown for the second time, but also earned
the meet’s highest score — 7,872 — in nearly
20 years. Six of his marks were personal
records, including three that rate among Seattle
Pacific’s all-time top five.
“Chris did an incredible job of executing,”
says Lerum. “He had the pop in his legs, and it
was fun to sit back and watch. He’s risen to an
entirely different level of athlete.”
Randolph began his running career early.
Along with his sister, Beth Randolph Langlais
’05, he was raised by a single father. His
mother died on his 6th birthday due to complications
from a botched surgery. To help his
son deal with his mother’s death, Randolph’s
father — who ran marathons and half marathons
— took him running, using the time to
let his son air any frustrations.
“He has always been my hero,” Randolph
says of his dad. The first time the son outran
the father? “I was a sophomore in high school,
bouncing down the road, and I saw my dad
slapping his feet down hard on the pavement,
huffing and puffing,” he remembers, grinning.
In his senior year in high school, Randolph
placed second in Colorado in the high jump,
and he was on the second-ranked 400 meter x
400 meter relay team. Without money for college,
though, Randolph planned to join the
Peace Corps. But his sister, then an SPU freshman,
encouraged him to visit campus. He did
and was so impressed that he explained his
track feats to Coach Hoyt and asked for a
scholarship. Hoyt, an Olympic-level decathlete,
had limited scholarship money available,
but knew it was unusual for an athlete to excel
in both the high jump and the 400-meter dash,
which take very different athletic skills. After a
call to Randolph’s high school track coach,
Hoyt offered a modest scholarship “to open the
door for him” — if he competed in the decathlon.
“What’s the decathlon?” Randolph asked.
Sensing “God’s call” to attend Seattle
Pacific, Randolph left Colorado. “When I
came out here, I was 6’ tall and weighed 148
pounds,” he remembers. “I was a little cross
country guy.” He began training harder than
ever before, but the first time he threw a javelin,
it did flips in the air. Then he grew two
more inches and added 36 pounds of muscle.
“Chris is a tireless worker, and he spent more
time training than any athlete I had ever seen in
my years with SPU athletics,” says Hoyt.
Randolph’s scores automatically qualified
him for the 2006 AT&T U.S.A. Outdoor
Track and Field Championships in Indianapolis
in June. In Autumn Quarter, he will take
a position as SPU assistant track and field
coach, continue training with Lerum and
Heritage, and keep his sights on two longtime
dreams: the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics
and the 2012 London Games.
— By Hope McPherson
— Photo by Chad Coleman
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