LA CROSSE, Wis. – On the strength of his final three events, junior Joe Cerne moved up 13 spots to finish fourth in the decathlon at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships and earn All-American honors. The junior from Enumclaw, Wash. finished with a total of 6,560, which was a personal-best and the third best total on Puget Sound's all-time list.
"These last two days were a truly humbling experience with a great group of guys in the decathlon – all of which are tremendous athletes," said Cerne. "I've loved the support from friends and family who traveled here and those back home. My coaches were amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better collection of coaches."
Cerne is Puget Sound's first track & field All-American since 2006 and the first men's outdoor All-American since 2003 when Dan McLean earned the honor in the 1500 meter run. He is the fourth Logger to earn All-American honors in the decathlon and first since 1992.He is also just the third men's outdoor All-American in Puget Sound's Division III history.
"Joe stayed very composed throughout the competition. It was just a phenomenal second day," commented head coach Mike Orechia. "We couldn't be more proud of his performance this week."
The day began with the 110 meter hurdles and Cerne finished with a time of 16.82, which dropped him from 15th to 17th place. However, Cerne rebounded quickly to finish on a hot streak.
He posted his second personal-best mark of the two-day event in the discus. His throw of 37.38 meters (122-feet, 8-inches) boosted him back up to 15th.
Cerne captured the momentum from his PR to finish in the top-3 in each of the final three events. He rose above the rest of the field in the decathlon with the highest vault of any decathlete. After missing his first two vaults, he cleared the bar on his final attempt at 4.55 meters (14-feet, 11.75-inches) to take the top spot in the event.
His vault propelled him up to 10th and left him knocking on the door of the coveted top-8 spots, which earn All-American status. Cerne responded with a javelin throw of 53.82 meters (175-feet, 3-inches) – again coming on his final attempt. His mark was second-best among the decathletes and continued his catapault up the standings into seventh.
With just one event remaining, Cerne was eyeing the All-American prize. He came in third in the 1500 meter run with another personal-best time of 4:37.48, maintaining his place as an All-American and bringing him up to fourth on the points standings.
Cerne was just 154 points from the medal stand as Wis.-Eau Claire's Bart Mestelle finished with 6,714 points in third place. Central College's Eric Larson won the NCAA Division III Decathlon title with 6,969 points.
This was Cerne's second time around at the NCAA decathlon. Last year, he took 14th. He came in to the national meet ranked 14th in Division III. He is a two-sport student-athlete, who was also a starting defensive back on Logger football team last fall.
He closed the 2013 season by going from 17th to fourth in his final four events of the decathlon.