For the last couple weeks, the wallpaper on Steele Wasik’s cell phone had the number 7,000.
That represented the points he wanted to record in hopes of capturing the AAU Junior Olympic national title in the decathlon.
Wasik did that and then some last weekend, as the Medina resident dominated the competition in registering 7,037 points en route to winning the 17-18 age group championship at Eastern Michigan University.
Despite having more than enough points to win the title heading into the final event, the 1,500-meter run, the 17-year-old was going to do anything to accomplish that goal.
“I knew I had the total to win it, but I also knew it would’ve hit me a week later that I didn’t get my goal,” Wasik said. “It all came down to the 1,500. It was nice because some of the other athletes were out there cheering me on.”
The incoming St. Edward senior, who is being recruited by a host of major college track programs, needed to clock a 4:52 to get to the 7,000-point plateau. That was 11 seconds faster than his previous personal record in the event.
Wasik went out and recorded a time of 4:47.44 to place fourth in the event. Overall, he beat Benjamin Johnson of Nashville, Tenn., by 1,314 points.
The time in the 1,500 was one of six career-best performances over the two days, which also included five individual event wins and two runner-up finishes.
“It was perfect,” Wasik said. “I had to work for it both days and the ending was one of those you always hear about.”
Despite rain and spring-like conditions at EMU’s Olds-Marshall Track at Rynearson Stadium, the 6-foot-5, 190-pounder came out and posted wins in the 100 dash (11.32) and long jump (21 feet, 5¼) before finishing his busy day with a trio of personal-best performances in the shot put (2nd place, 42-6¾), high jump (1st, 6-7) and 400 (1st, 49.02).
That put him on pace for the 7,000-point goal as he had 3,883 points to lead Chris Davis of Collierville, Tenn., by 532 with five events to go.
“I was happy with the first five events, especially because it was pouring down rain and windy,” Wasik said. “No one wanted to be out there, so to high jump and long jump like I did and finish with the fastest 400, it gave me a lot of confidence.”
Despite winning just one event on the final day, clocking a 14.25 in the 110 hurdles, he posted career bests to place second in the discus (135-4) and third in the javelin (144-1). He also cleared 10-11 to take third in the pole vault.
While it was a grueling two days against 28 athletes from across the country, it was a celebration of the dedication Wasik has put into the decathlon since last summer. He dropped high school football and basketball to work on the 10 events, all for the feeling he had last weekend.
“Having the title of national champion means a lot to me,” he said. “It shows that all the hard work paid off. It proves to a lot of people that I’m a national-caliber athlete and it sets me on that course. I have the potential to go somewhere.”
Wasik will now take some time off to visit a few colleges, including Stanford and Oregon, but he’s already setting new goals.
“I want to win the New Balance Indoor Nationals in the pentathlon, win the indoor state meet for Ed’s, beat (former Berea standout and current Ohio State runner) Donovan Robertson’s state record in the 300 hurdles and win the state outdoor meet.
“Lastly, with how well I did in this decathlon, I’m confident I can come back next year and break the record (of 7,379).”
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.