With every event Jake Wainwright added to his repertoire, the closer he came to becoming a decathlete.
So last summer, the conversation about him taking the leap for the Charlotte 49ers became a little more serious.
While the move is still in the experimental stages, the early returns of Wainwright sticking with the decathlon have been positive. Now the Concord native and Jay M. Robinson graduate has aspirations of taking his talents to the national level.
The decision may be made in the days leading up to the event, but Wainwright, a junior, just might represent the 49ers in the decathlon in this weekend's Atlantic 10 Conference's Outdoor championship meet.
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Field coach Bob Olesen said the decision would be determined by his projection of Charlotte's need for team points in each individual event. Wainwright could be asked to participate in the decathlon or in his traditional hurdle, relay, and jumping events.
At Robinson, Wainwright won the high jump at the 4A state meet as a senior, the Bulldogs' first state championship in any sport. He was also a strong hurdler.
Wainwright enrolled at UNC-Charlotte in the spring of 2008, missing the previous fall semester because of his commitment to the National Guard. He joined the 49ers in the middle of the indoor season and finished third in the high jump at the conference's outdoor championship meet.
By the following season, Olesen was picking up that Wainwright could help the team in other events. The sophomore began competing in the 400-meter hurdles and the long jump, which became Wainwright's best event.
At the A-10 Outdoor championship meet in 2009, at UNCC, Wainwright broke the conference meet record with a long jump of 24 feet, 9 and one-quarter inches, a foot longer than his previous personal best.
Olesen started checking off all the events he knew Wainwright was or could be competitive in: hurdles, long jump, high jump, 400-meter run and probably the 100-meter dash, since Wainwright proved his speed with his long jump sprint.
"So now we're covering half the events where he could be a conference-level performer in those individual events," said Olesen. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to think he could make that leap. We could teach him to throw something and push him around the track four times for the 1,500 meters. He has the potential to really put something together in the decathlon."
Wainwright would have tried out the heptathlon (seven events) in the indoor season, but an ankle injury set back those plans. He stuck with his open events, finishing second in the long jump and fourth in the high jump at the A-10 Indoor Championships. He ran a leg on the 1600-meter relay team that took first place.
Wainwright opened his career as a decathlete at home Mar. 18-20 at the 49er Classic. He excelled in the jumping, hurdling, and running events but finished in the bottom half of all three throwing events (discus, shot put, and javelin) and the pole vault.
Overall, Wainwright placed second in points. His next outing, at Tennessee's Sea Ray Relays, wasn't as impressive. The throws were again his kryptonite, as he placed 11th out of 12 competitors.
The training regimen for a decathlete is much different than it is for other athletes. Wainwright finds himself practicing longer hours, to cover all the events, and with multiple coaches. With the A-10 meet coming up, Wainwright thinks it could be a proving ground.
"I would like to (defend) my conference title in the outdoor (meet)," he said. "But if I don't get to do that I know I have a good chance to be the conference champion in the decathlon. I'd like to get a shot at that since I've already achieved one goal. And I think I can go farther with the decathlon than the long jump itself. I think I could probably place in nationals."
Olesen and Wainwright have already had discussions about him redshirting next year to give him time to improve in the throws and pole vault. By the time he's a senior, Wainwright could be one of the top overall collegiate athletes in the country.