July 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Track and field championships: Steele Wasik dominates hurdles

Steele Wasik has never been so happy with a fourth-place finish.

The Medina resident set four personal records, which included breaking the American junior decathlon record in the 110-meter hurdles, en route to a banner day at the USATF Championships at Sacramento State University.

“The meet was everything I had hoped it would be,” Wasik said. “And in terms of my finish and my total points, I am extremely proud. It is so difficult to complete a decathlon — let alone try and be your best at every event — so coming out with almost 7,300 points is awesome.”

Wasik compiled 7,286 points and was one of eight competitors in the rugged field to score 7,000 or better. Harrison Williams came away with the title with 7,734.

With his performance, the recent St. Edward graduate and UCLA recruit earned a spot in the Pan American Games to be held this year in Ottawa. According to Wasik, other meets could be a possibility before the summer comes to a close.

Wasik, who represented the West Akron Track Club, opened the two-day event with top-five finishes in four of the first five competitions. He was fourth in the 100 in a personal-best time of 10.88 before placing third in the long jump with career-best 23 feet, 4½ inches. The Gatorade Ohio Track and Field Athlete of the Year rounded out his day with the shot put (5th place, 43-8), high jump (8th, 6-2¾) and 400 (5th, 49.33).

None of those events compared to what happened in the 110 hurdles.

Wasik cruised to easy win over Cerritos College’s Thomas Cheval, clocking 14.09 to break the national hurdles record in decathlon.

“The national hurdle record tells me that I’m doing something right, and to actually comprehend that I set it will take some time,” he said. “The race was fluid and I didn’t press, and honestly it was just muscle memory. That is my event, and I proved it then and there.”

Wasik had one more PR in him after his 170-9 took fourth in the javelin. He also competed in the discus (9th, 117-1), pole vault (12th, 12-1½) and 1,500 run (8th, 4:50.59).

Almost better than breaking career marks was competing alongside some of the top track and field athletes in the country.

It was hard not to get star-struck.

“It was also super cool to see all the pro runners I’ve looked up to over the years,” Wasik said. “I was able to meet and take pictures with a few like Sanya Richards-Ross and Mary Caine.

“Lolo Jones was also missing a pin for her bib number, so I took one of mine off after the 1,500 and handed it to her. Lolo is wearing my pin.”

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.