A week after spending most of his time in bed attempting to shake off flu-like symptoms, Steele Wasik showed no signs of being sick Saturday afternoon at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York City.
The Medina resident and St. Edward High junior placed fifth in the pentathlon to earn All-American status in front of a packed crowd at the New Balance Armory.
“It was a really rough week,” Wasik said. “Saturday was the first day I felt well enough to compete.”
It showed, as Wasik came up seven points shy of his personal goal with 3,693 total points in the event, which consists of the 60-meter hurdles, long jump, shot put, high jump and 1,000 run.
His day was highlighted by matching a personal record in winning the high jump.
“To be an All-American is the coolest thing,” Wasik said. “It means I performed at the top tier against the top athletes. The level of competition here, you can’t get it anywhere else.
“To be successful on this stage with this pressure and earn the title of All-American is great.”
Wasik’s day opened with a second in the 60 hurdles in 8.13, but after showings of eighth- and 10th-place in the long jump (20-feet, 1 inch) and shot (41-1½), respectively, he felt the pressure heading into the high jump.
The 6-foot-5, 190-pounder, who won the bronze in the decathlon at the AAU Junior Olympics in Houston last summer, dominated the field in one of his staple event en route to clearing the bar at 6 feet, 7 inches.
“It all was riding on that event,” Wasik said. “People just started getting out and I was feeling good. It all came together.”
Despite missing his first two attempts at 6-3, Wasik went on to go to perfect the rest of the way to win the event by an inch.
The win gave Wasik 813 additional points and put him in second heading into the final event of the day — the 1,000 run.
Far from his favorite event, Wasik knew it was going to be a challenge.
“I knew going in that I’m not a distance guy,” he said with a laugh. “I lost all of my endurance coming in being sick all week. It was mixed emotions because I was second coming (into the event), but I knew I wasn’t going to be second coming out.”
Wasik finished 13th in the final event, clocking 2:58.48.
“It was all stacked against me,” he said. “I was last guy in the high jump, so the rest of the guys had more recovery time. I just kept a time in mind and tried to reach it.”
In all, he earned All-American status with a score of 3,693 —just 197 points off the pace of champion Marlon Humphrey of Hoover, Ala.
“I would definitely say it’s an honor,” Wasik said. “This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Everyone is watching you and there is so many distractions there.
“I want to thank my parents and coaches, because without them I wouldn’t be here.”
Wasik will compete in the high jump, 60 hurdles as a leg on the Eagles’ 4×400-meter relay Saturday at the OATCCC Indoor State Championships in Akron.
Fellow St. Edward standout and Liverpool Township resident Anthony Young also made the trip to the Big Apple, competing in the 60 and 200 dashes.
Like Wasik, Young competed in just two indoor meets locally before making the trip due to various illnesses.
Despite all that, Young, who committed to Indiana to play football and run track, placed ninth in the 200 (22.04). His time was just 0.9 seconds off the cut for the finals, which was reserved for the top eight.
“It feels pretty good, especially since this was my first true meet back,” he said. “My goal was to make top 10 in the country, and I did it after coming to New York with limited training and limited competition.”
On Saturday, he clocked 6.98 in the 60 to finish 11th and qualify for Sunday’s semifinals, where he finished 17th in 7.04. He missed a qualifying spot for the finals by 0.10 seconds.
“I want to try and help my team repeat as Indoor and Outdoor champs and three-peat in the 60 and 200 indoors,” he said, “I want to repeat in the 200 outdoors and finally get that 100 dash title, which once I get into shape and get my form down, I think I can get.”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.