College Sports

Versatility is a virtue for Stevick

This is Casey Stevick’s challenge: He needs to be good at hurdling, high jumping and pole vaulting. Add throwing the shot, javelin and discus. And long jumping, sprinting and distance running.

This is the challenge of being a decathlete.

And Stevick, whose father was a national-caliber javelin thrower and brother a collegiate distance runner, is a mix of runner, jumper and thrower.

As a result, Stevick, the soft-spoken and competitive athlete from Olympia, is ranked second in the NAIA in the decathlon. As a sophomore at Azusa Pacific University, Stevick scored a personal-best 6,781 last month at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif.

“Casey’s strength as a decathlete is tied to his consistency all around,” Azusa coach Kevin Reid said. “He doesn’t have one big event. He’s very consistent.”

Stevick has increased his personal best in the decathlon by a couple of hundred points since arriving at Azusa Pacific from Olympia High School.

“At nationals, he should crack 7,000 point barrier,” Reid said.

At a recent meet, Stevick posted four personal bests on the first day of competition. He had PRs in the 100 meters (11.23 seconds), long jump (22 feet, 101/2 inches), high jump (6-4) and the shot put (46-71/2). If he tops 7,000 points in a couple of weeks at the NAIA nationals in St. Louis, he’ll become the 16th decathlete at Azusa to top that mark.

Stevick is following a rich tradition of decathletes at the California school. Dave Johnson won a bronze medal in the decathlon at the 1992 Olympics. Bryan Clay won silver in the 2004 Olympics and a gold in the 2008 Olympics.

Clay still trains at Azusa Pacific in the mornings. Stevick trains in the afternoons. Clay occasionally works with Stevick.

But nobody has to push Stevick to work harder.

“He’s one of those guys you actually need to pull the reins back on,” Reid said. “I don’t need to push him and push him. He’ll always go above and beyond.”

Getting in practice for 10 events each week isn’t easy. Reid, who has coached at Azusa for 16 years, has Stevick practice first-day events on Monday and the remaining five events on Tuesday. Then he mixes it up the rest of the week.

“Getting him comfortable is different than single-event guys,” Reid said. “You want to get them comfortable with what they’re doing, but they never get enough practice. It’s really fitness-based.”

Reid said Stevick has the potential to top 8,000 points.

“If he stays with it, he has the tools to do that,” Reid said.