Hunter Veith last competed in the decathlon two months ago. He won the event and wasn’t particularly pleased with his performance.
“I think I left a lot of points out there,” he said.
That layoff may not seem like the ideal run-up to the NCAA outdoor championships. It is exactly how Veith and Wichita State track and field coach Steve Rainbolt planned to position Veith for a peak performance this week in Eugene, Ore.
Veith, a junior from Cheney, enters Wednesday’s decathlon ranked No. 15 among the 24 competitors. His score of 7,610 points is from an early April meet in Santa Barbara, Calif.
While it ranks second on WSU’s career list, Veith regards it as a merely acceptable effort. Since then, Veith competed in open events to stay sharp while minimizing wear on his body. He scored 27.5 points in five events at last month’s Missouri Valley Conference meet.
“His body feels fresh and healthy,” Rainbolt said. “He feels healthy within the context of how decathlon men feel. Decathlon men feel tired.”
Veith agrees. He will need strong legs and a sharp mind to move up in a field that Rainbolt regards as one of the strongest in recent memory. Texas A&M’s Linden Victor, the defending champion, holds the NCAA record with 8,472 points.
Austin Bahner holds WSU’s record with 7,847 points. Veith, Rainbolt said, can threaten 8,000 points.
“He’s running way better in the hurdles; he is pole vaulting better,” Rainbolt said. “He’s way better than 7,610.”
In the April meet, Veith high-jumped 6 feet, 5 inches. His personal best is 6-10 1/4. Veith’s strongest event is the long jump and he went 23-7 in April. His best is 25-2 3/4.
“That meet was almost all about ‘Get qualified,’ ” he said. “Now, it’s taking off all the restrictors and we’re going to see what happens.”
Veith finished ninth in the heptathlon with 5,760 points in March in the NCAA indoor championships. That experience will help this week. He is used to structure and pressure of a national meet. He understands that the atmosphere is different from a casual April meet.
“These meets are all about business,” he said. “Our only focus is track and field. It’s really cool to zone in.”
The decathlon begins at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday and ends Thursday. WSU’s Breanne Borman, Nikki Larch-Miller and Gavyn Yetter will compete in the heptathlon on Friday and Saturday.
Where: Hayward Field, Eugene, Ore.
Video: All events on ESPN3.com. Selected times on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.