Olkowski fifth midway through decathlon in Indianapolis

Track and field

June 23, 2007|By Elliott Denman | Elliott Denman,Special to the Sun

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ryan Olkowski's traveling bags are packed.

But the Calvert Hall and Penn State graduate - an elite decathlete for the past six years - has no idea what his destination will be.

Will it be the Pan American Games (July 13-29 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)? The USA-Germany decathlon challenge (date and site to be announced)? Or anywhere else he can track down a multi-event opportunity?

Midway through the men's decathlon at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships yesterday in Indianapolis, the 27-year-old is fifth with a 4,066-point total, 28 points out of third place.

Enduring disappointments and battered by injuries, Olkowski has never lived up to his potential, but this could be a breakthrough year.

"Actually, I'm not really thrilled by my performances today," Olkowski said. "I had bigger expectations, but I did what I normally do, so to be fifth halfway through the nationals, that's OK."

Olkowski reeled off marks of 10.73 seconds in the 100-meter dash, 23 feet, 2 inches in the long jump, 41-8 3/4 in the shot put, 6-5 in the high jump and 48.22 in the 400 meters.

The event is led by 2003 world championships gold medalist Tom Pappas (4,394 points), after favorite Bryan Clay, the 2005 world titlist, withdrew after four events, still feeling the effects of an all-out performance in a decathlon in Gotzis, Austria, in late May.

Paul Terek, a 2004 Olympic teammate of Pappas' and Clay's, was second at 4,234. Chris Boyles (4,094) and Ryan Harlan (4,078), in third and fourth, are within striking distance of Olkowski.

It was also an upbeat day for James Carter and Matthew Centrowitz.

Carter, the two-time Olympic 400-meter hurdler out of Mervo and Hampton University, cruised into today's eight-man final with a 48.91 win in his semifinal. He had clocked a 49.07 Thursday, leading all qualifiers.

After he stepped off the track, though, he saw former Jackson State star Michael Tinsley win the second semifinal in 48.02, over Kerron Clement, who ran 48.08. Those were the fastest times in the world this year.

They will all run in the 400 hurdles final today.

Centrowitz, a recent Broadneck High graduate who is bound for the University of Oregon, easily moved into today's 12-man final of the junior 1,500 meters with a third-place, 3:56.46 performance in his preliminary.

"Racing's always exciting," he said. "I felt pretty good. All I wanted to do was qualify, and that was fine with me. The final? I just know it's going to be fast."

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