NCAA record holder Hardee posts Olympic standard in decathlon
AUSTIN, Texas -- Trey Hardee reached the Olympic decathlon qualifying standard Thursday in the Texas Relays, the event where he set the NCAA record in 2006 before his career was derailed by injuries.
Hardee, now competing as a professional, finished with 8,371 points in his first decathlon in almost two years. He set personal records in the discus (172 feet, 10 inches) and pole vault (17-2 3/4).
"Angels were lifting me over the bar," Hardee said. "It was amazing."
Hardee was at the University of Texas when he set the NCAA decathlon record of 8,465, the third best mark in the world in 2006 in a performance that established him a potential international threat in the event. But injuries, including one to his wrist that required surgery, soon knocked him backward.
"That's life. It was just a matter of keeping faith," Hardee said.
Hardee said this week's performance should get him on track to potentially qualify for the Beijing Olympics at the U.S. trials.
"I put myself in good position going into the trials by getting that standard out of the way. All I'm doing now is training for the games and the trials," Hardee said.
Hardee only recently returned to training with the discus.
"I knew I was capable of throwing that far but you never know," he said. "That was above and beyond what I thought I could do."
Florida State freshman Gonzalo Barroilhet was the top collegiate finisher in the decathlon with 7,828 points.
Julie Pickler, a Washington State graduate now competing as a professional, won the women's heptathlon with 5,990 points. Pickler also won the event in 2006. Abbie Stechschulte of Indiana was the top college finisher with 5,661 points.
In the men's 3,200 relay, Texas won in 7 minutes, 17.63 seconds, topping last year's world-best mark of 7:18.43 run by Southern California on the same track.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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