Final exams: Grzesiak passes first test in quest for title


ON WISCONSIN
<b>David Grzesiak ended the first day of decathlon competition in second place with 4,014 points.</b>

ON WISCONSIN
David Grzesiak ended the first day of decathlon competition in second place with 4,014 points.
ON WISCONSIN

May 11, 2012

Championships Central  |  Photo Gallery

BY BRANDON HARRISON
UW Athletic Communications 

MADISON, Wis. -- This weekend’s Big Ten championships mark the last few days David Grzesiak will compete as a Badger on his home track.

"It’s weird,” Grzesiak said of his final home meet. “But, at the same time, I’m ready for it.”

No matter how he felt to begin, the senior put together a day one performance to be proud of.

Beginning his day near the bottom of the leaderboard, Grzesiak persevered. Four events and two personal-best marks later, he had worked his way right back to the top.

Finishing the day with 4,014 points, Grzesiak ended the first day of multi-event competition in second place and poised to make a run at the title Saturday at the Dan McClimon Memorial Track/Soccer Complex.

“I’m only halfway through, and I’m sitting well,” Grzesiak said. “But, just having the home crowd behind you, the familiarity of the track and all your teammates competing with you on the biggest stage you can do with them is great.

“It can’t be overstated, this is one of the coolest feelings you can have.”

If he plans to take the win on his home track, Grzesiak will need to beat out leader Bjorn Barrefors of Nebraska, who tallied 4,127 points with his performances Friday.

Teammate Derek Steinbach also put himself in position for a top finish, recording 3,848 points to stand fifth through five events.

Beginning with the 100 meters, Zach Ziemek -- competing in his first outdoor championships -- finished runner-up in the event, clocking in at a personal-best time of 11.03 seconds.

Steinbach also recorded a personal-best time, finishing in 11.15 for sixth.

Grzesiak finished in a time of 11.36 seconds to place 11th.

Knowing it may not have started the way he intended, Grzesiak began to get things turned around in the long jump, and wouldn’t finish lower than seventh place the rest of the day.

“In long jump, I was not sitting pretty,” Grzesiak said. “But, I managed to do it on my third jump and pull one out.”

Pulling out a personal-best leap of 22 feet, 8 1/2 inches, Grzesiak finished seventh in the event to find an early groove, which he would remain in the rest of the day.

The ensuing loud and enthusiastic roar let out by the Brookfield, Wis., native let everyone else know he had found it and with his confidence back, he was ready to make his push.

Making noise of their own in the event, Ian Jansen and Steinbach also recorded personal-best jumps, as Jansen lunged 23-5 1/2 to finish in second place and Steinbach 22-10 1/2 to finish fifth.

Nebraska’s Bjorn Barrefors won the event with his personal-best mark of 24-10.

Steinbach was the first Badger to earn a win on the day, placing first with his personal-best heave of 47-4 1/2 in the shot put.

Making his way up the leaderboard, Grzeiak checked in at fourth in the event with a throw of 43-11 3/4.

Competing in stride, Grzesiak followed up his performance in the shot put with his first event win of the day in the high jump.

Behind his second personal-best mark of the day, Grzesiak cleared 6-11 to win the event and outdo leader Barrefors’ mark of 6-7 1/2. The performance tied the outdoor personal-best of Grzesiak’s father, Mark, who cleared 6-11 as a Badger on May 10, 1975.

“In high jump, for some reason it just kicked in,” Grzesiak said.

It was a strong event all around for Badgers, as all four competing finished with personal-bests. Ziemek placed fourth with his height of 6-6 1/4, while Steinbach and Jansen tied for 12th with their clearances of 6-1 1/2.

To finish the day and complete his climb, Grzesiak went on to take third in the 400 meters with his time of 49.47 seconds.

One of those teammates, Japheth Cato, had a strong day of his own in the pole vault.

Clearing a personal-best height of 17-3, the sophomore finished runner-up in the event to Michigan’s Jack Greenlee, who also finished with the same clearance but in fewer misses.

“Second is one of the hardest places to take,” Cato said. “But, you’ve got to remember that you’re doing it for the team.”

Cato also contended for what would have been a Badgers’ school record, taking three chances and coming closer with each one, but ultimately was not able to clear 17-7.

Regardless, he came away encouraged by his efforts and the contributions he made for his team.

“I can’t really ask for anything more,” said Cato, who ranks No. 5 all-time for the Badgers in the event. “I got a personal record, was going for the school record and finished in second place.”

Cato continues competition tomorrow in both the 110-meter hurdles and the long jump, while decathletes finish the last of their events, beginning at 9:30 a.m. with the 110-meter hurdles.

Live results and complete recap can be found at UWBadgers.com.

ON WISCONSIN
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