Chris Randolph
As a student athlete, Chris Randolph was often on the track training long after everyone else left for the day. “He is relentless about his training,” says SPU’s head track and field coach Karl Lerum. Photos by Chad Coleman.
Falcon Decathlete
Turned coach turned Olympic hopeful
Chris Randolph hammered Seattle Pacific University’s decathlon record this spring — twice. In April, he broke a Seattle Pacific record that stood for 36 years. In May, the 2006 SPU Athlete of the Year trounced his own record and won the national decathlon crown for the second year in a row at the NCAA Division II Track and Field Championships in Emporia, Kansas.
“Chris did an incredible job executing,” says Karl Lerum, Seattle Pacific head track and field coach, about the second national championship win. “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.” Not bad for a guy who didn’t know what a decathlon was when he applied to SPU as a high school student from Lone Tree, Colorado.
Decathletes go head to head over two grueling days, competing in the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, and 1,500-meter run, which is just shy of a mile. They get points based on each finish, and their combined totals rank the pack.
While a high school senior, Randolph was second-ranked in Colorado in both the high jump and the 400-meter x 400-meter relay. Although he had no plans to attend college, his sister, then an SPU freshman, encouraged him to visit the Seattle Pacific campus. Randolph did and was so impressed that he convinced then-head coach Jack Hoyt that he was worthy of a scholarship.
Chris RandolphHoyt, an Olympic-level decathlete, knew it was unusual for an athlete to excel in the high jump and the 400-meter dash, which require very different athletic skills. He offered Randolph a scholarship “to get his foot in the door” — on the condition that he compete in the decathlon. “What’s the decathlon?” Randolph asked.
Sensing God’s call to attend Seattle Pacific, Randolph left Colorado. Over the next four years, the psychology major’s life-changing decision paid off. “When I came out here, I was 6’ tall and weighed 148 pounds,” Randolph remembers, grinning. “I was a little cross country guy.” But he trained harder than ever, often more than four hours a day, and it didn’t hurt that he grew two inches, and gained 36 pounds of muscle.
By the end of his senior year at SPU, Randolph held Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) records in six of the 10 decathlon events, and he held numerous SPU individual and team records. He was also named the NCAA Division II Field Athlete of the Year.
Randolph, who graduated in June 2006, has accepted a position as the SPU assistant track and field coach, but he’ll continue training for two longtime dreams: the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and the 2012 London Games.
By Hope McPherson
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