STORY WRITTEN BY KERITH GABRIEL, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER - JUNE 8, 2023 - STORY
While he’s not dealing with breathing in whatever is floating around our skies from Canadian wildfires, Philly decathlete Kyle Garland is competing with bated breath as he looks to claim an NCAA Division I outdoor track and field title — in the searing Texas heat.
Thursday marks the second day of the men’s decathlon, and Garland will once again take part in five events as temperatures are expected to exceed 90 degrees at Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, the site of this year’s championships.
Here’s the rundown on Garland, why what he’s trying to do is not for the average athlete, why this week is significant, and how this Philly kid could add his name to NCAA record books — again.
Who is Kyle Garland?
Garland has been throwing, running, leaping, and hurling himself in track and field meets since his days at Germantown Academy. However, as a Georgia Bulldog, he has found considerable success as a heptathlete and decathlete, qualifying for the 2022 world track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., after setting the NCAA record in the decathlon. He entered the outdoor championships as the reigning NCAA indoor champion in the heptathlon.
How is the decathlon scored?
A decathlon consists of 10 events, scored in a formula in the World Athletics rule book that takes 182 pages to explain. The Cliffs Notes version is that each event is scored based on the athlete’s finish and then is factored into a cumulative score. The highest total score is the winner.
What is Garland’s path to the title?
In his quest to be the outdoor champion, Garland took part in the 100-meter run, the long jump, the shot put, the high jump and a 400-meter run on Wednesday and was second overall to Leo Neugebauer of Texas. On Thursday, he’ll compete in the 110-meter hurdles, the discus, pole vault, and javelin and then finish up with a 1,500-meter run, not scheduled to take place until — 9:56 p.m. Philadelphia time, according to NCAA listings.
On Wednesday, Garland finished second in the 100 to Neugebauer, who prevailed in 10.61 seconds. Garland was two-hundredths of a second behind. Garland was second in the long jump as well at 7.72 meters; Nebraska’s Till Steinforth was the winner at 7.87 meters. In the shot put, Garland finished first, throwing a distance of 16.39 meters. Garland and Neugebauer tied for first in the high jump at 2.04 meters. Garland ran the 400 meters in 47.78 while finishing in seventh place.
Just how good is he?
Garland will end his senior season as one of the most successful athletes in recent years for Georgia’s program. He set an NCAA record in the indoor heptathlon by scoring 6,639 points at the indoor championships in March. At the Southeastern Conference outdoor championships, Garland had the second-best performance by a college decathlete in NCAA history, finishing first in all but two of the events (javelin, 1500 meters). Many say he’s a shoo-in for the Bowerman Award given to the outstanding male and female track and field athletes in the nation.
What’s next for Garland?
After the NCAA championships, he most likely will be vying for a place in the 2023 world championships in Budapest, Hungary, which start Aug. 19. Then the goal would be an invitation to Orlando, Fla., in February for the USA Track and Field Olympic trials ahead of the 2024 Games in Paris next summer.