Paul Suellentrop

WSU notes: Former Shocker Austin Bahner targets summer decathlons

Wichita native Austin Bahner, WSU’s record-holder in the decathlon, has competed in the Thorpe Cup the past two summers.
Wichita native Austin Bahner, WSU’s record-holder in the decathlon, has competed in the Thorpe Cup the past two summers. The Wichita Eagle

Austin Bahner is easing into his busy season as a post-collegiate decathlete with hopes of staying fit through the summer.

“I feel like I’ve been healthy, for the most part all year, so I feel like I’m the fastest I’ve been,” he said. “This is the strongest I’ve been.”

Bahner, 23, started his training later in the winter and took a more gradual approach to peaking with hopes of avoiding hamstring problems that slowed him in the past. He opened the season with a 7,579-point performance in mid-April, a mark that ranks him No. 21 in the world.

“I’m focusing on the summer this year, instead of the conference meets and everything when you’re in college,” he said.

Bahner, from Heights, completed his career at Wichita State last season with the school’s decathlon record of 7,847 points.

As a senior, he won the He won the Missouri Valley Conference decathlon with 7,131 points. Last summer, he finished seventh in the USA Track and Field Championships and did his second tour with the Thorpe Cup team in a dual with Germany. As a junior in 2013, he finished 10th in the decathlon at the NCAA Outdoor Championships and 14th in the heptathlon in the NCAA Indoor Championships.

The good start to the season allows Bahner to again think big for this summer. He can return to the USATF meet by hitting 7,800 points, a total he will try to reach in smaller meets this spring. Also in his sights are a return to the Thorpe Cup and spots in the Pan Am Games and the World Championships in Bejing in August. The qualifying standard for the World Championships is 8,100.

With his legs feeling good, Bahner is optimistic about increasing that points total. His performances in the 100-meter dash, the long jump and the discus continue as strengths.

“Everything that is going good is consistently good,” he said. “I ran 10.80 this year in my two 100s and they were both really low winds. In the past, I’ve fluctuated a lot. I ran my best times two years ago and last year I got stuck in the upper 10-second times and I feel like I’m improving more as I feel good.”

Hurdles and high jumps are the events that require the most attention.

“I’ve been working a lot on those two events and I feel like they’re coming along,” he said. “But I have to do it in a meet.”

Welcome to Quad Cities — Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball coaches spent Friday at the IWireless Center in Moline, Ill., home of the tournament the next three seasons.

The MVC is holding a contest to create a slogan for the tournament, which moved to its new home in the Quad Cities after eight years in St. Charles, Mo. Fans can make suggestions at the Missouri Valley Conference Facebook page. Deadline is Friday. Top suggestions will be collected for a vote by fans. The person who creates the winning slogan will receive prizes, including tickets to the 2016 tournament.

While there, MVC coaches voiced their support for WSU coach Jody Adams on Twitter. They took a picture with nine coaches holding Adams aloft outside the arena with the hashtag: MVC4Jody. Southern Illinois coach Cindy Stein added the message: @ValleyHoops WBB coaches support @coachjodyadams.

Adams is the subject of an inquiry into her program by the university administration after four players recently decided to transfer. Those players, and others, describe an atmosphere of anger, isolation and personal insults that has caused several athletes to transfer during Adams’ tenure.

Adding distance — Former WSU distance runner Aliphine Tuliamuk-Bolton will run her first marathon on Sunday in the Pittsburg Marathon.

This year, she finished second in the Sand Blas Half Marathon in Puerto Rico with a time of one hour, 12.51 minutes, third in the Cherry Blossom 10-mile run in Washington, D.C. (49.20 in a race reduced to 9.39 miles) and won the Carlsbad Half Marathon in San Diego (1:11.48).

Former Shocker Kellyn Taylor is featured in the current edition of Runner’s World. Taylor, in January, ran her first marathon and finished as the top American with a time of 2:28.40 in the Houston Marathon.

Reach Paul Suellentrop at 316-269-6760 or Follow him on Twitter: @paulsuellentrop.