Roseburg graduate Noah Avery emerging as decathlete at Lewis & Clark
News-Review Sports Editor
Noah Avery is finding out how good he’s capable of becoming as a decathlete.
The 21-year-old Lewis & Clark College sophomore, a 2015 graduate of Roseburg High School, has turned in an impressive track and field season at the NCAA Division III school in Portland.
Avery finished third in the Northwest Conference Multi-Events, held April 10-11 at Pacific University’s Hanson Stadium in Forest Grove. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder finished with a personal best score of 6,381 points in the 10-event decathlon — the fourth-best point total in Lewis & Clark history.
Avery, competing in his fourth decathlon, set seven PRs and three season bests during the competition. His marks consisted of 11.70 seconds in the 100 meters, 54.43 in the 400, 4:57.54 in the 1,500, 16.31 in the 110 hurdles, 6-3 1/4 in the high jump, 13-3 1/2 in the pole vault, 20-9 1/4 in the long jump, 41-6 in the shot put, 106-6 in the discus and 167-5 in the javelin.
The former Roseburg quarterback won the high jump, pole vault, shot and javelin with event PRs, and finished second in the long jump and third in the discus.
“I set a personal goal of 6,250 points,” Avery said Wednesday. “I knew I needed to go in prepared and tried to give it everything I had, and it was great to see it all come together. The pole vault was probably the most pleasing ... it was around a one-foot PR and fun to win that one.
“I was able to PR in a lot of events, and David Lovitz (a junior who finished fifth in the decathlon) and Morgan Taylor (a freshman who was eighth in the women’s heptathlon) both PRd. That reflects on the coaching, and shows how good of a job they’re doing to make us perform at a high level.”
The Pioneers’ pole vault coach is Tim Bright, a former Olympian in the decathlon and two-time U.S. champion in the pole vault.
Avery said he’d never participated in the 110 hurdles, discus, javelin, pole vault and 1,500 (with a few exceptions) prior to college. He started at Lewis & Clark as a two-sport athlete, with football intended to be his primary sport following the recruiting process.
Avery played in eight games and made a couple of starts in the defensive secondary as a freshman for Jay Locey’s football team. He was limited to one game his sophomore year due to a concussion, and decided to retire from football.
“It was a very tough decision. I still love football,” Avery said.
Avery — a state qualifier for the Class 6A meet while at Roseburg High — took up the decathlon in track as a freshman and showed promise, finishing third in the NWC meet with 6,068 points. That ranked No. 6 on the school’s all-time list.
“The coaches asked me to try it out. I did, and starting loving the competition behind it,” Avery said. “You’re competing against the people involved, but also against yourself with a score and tracking battle along a two-day period. I see little improvements make a big difference, and it creates a lot of motivation as well.”
Avery came oh-so-close to winning a conference title in the decathlon this season.
He held a 153-point lead over defending champion Alex Canchola of George Fox heading into the 1,500, the final event. Despite a six-second PR by Avery in the 3 1/2 lap race, John Koch of George Fox and Koch both finished about 26 seconds ahead of him, with Canchola pulling out the decathlon title with 6,390 points and Koch (6,383) edging Avery for second.
“It was tough to hear, being that close (to a championship),” Avery said. “But credit to them (Canchola and Koch), they ran excellent (in the 1,500). I have four decathlons under my belt, and the main thing I need is more experience.”
“Noah had a great two days (at the multi-events),” said Keith Woodard, the director of track and field at Lewis & Clark. “He put it all on the line, and it was exciting to see. He’s such a tough competitor when he gets focused, and he was focused.”
Avery is hoping to land a berth in the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships, scheduled for May 25-27 in Geneva, Ohio. The top 20 on the decathlon performance list make the meet, and Woodard said Avery currently sits in 13th place.
“That would be huge for Noah to make it,” Woodard said. “You’re learning everything your first time at nationals.”
“I would love to represent Lewis & Clark over there,” Avery said. “We’re a small school, and it would be nice to have a presence on the national stage.”
The next step for Avery is working towards achieving 7,000 points in the decathlon. David Pullin holds the L-C record in the decathlon with 6,959 points set in 1980.
“He’s an unassuming kid,” Woodard said. “I like his competitiveness. Noah’s always wanting to improve and get better. It’s been fun, and we’re looking forward to two more years with him.”
Avery received a special award Tuesday, being selected the Male Athlete of the Year at the Excellence in Lewis & Clark’s Year of Sports awards.
“It’s a great honor,” said Avery, who’s majoring in English. “I’m very excited.”