‘Track’ Black ready for International
Fresh off a second-place finish in the decathlon at last week's USA Track and Field Youth Athletics National Outdoor Championship, Baldwin High School track standout Eric Black is going international this week.
Black, who helped BHS win state titles in boys cross country and boys track during the 2000-01 school year, left Monday for Debrecen, Hungary, where he will compete in the octathlon at the IAAF World Youth Track and Field Championships. A total of 144 countries will be represented at the world event, scheduled to run Thursday through Sunday.
"To do well in the multi-events you have to be pretty solid in everything," said Black, a senior-to-be at BHS and the lone Kansan among the 50 entries from the United States. "But you have to have an outstanding event that helps pick you up."
Two events shy of a decathlon, the octathlon features the 100-meter run, long jump, shot put and 400-meter run on the first day. Black will conclude the octathlon with the hurdles, high jump, javelin and 1,000-meter run on the second day.
"I'm not real big on the javelin or shot put," Black said. "I'm kind of weak in those events."
Black, state champion in the Class 4A 800 in May, is more comfortable with running and the high jump.
"The 1,500 (at decathlons) usually saves my hide," Black said. "It's kind of my saving grace. Most of those guys are big, speedy and powerful. I'm more of an 800 runner than I am a 1,500 runner, so I hope I can hold on for 200 more meters at this meet."
At the urging of BHS track coach Mike Spielman, Black has competed in multi-events since he entered a pentathlon four years ago.
"I already high jumped, long jumped and hurdled and those are three main point-getters in the decathlon," Black said. "With a little more work, Spielman figured I could get a few more points in everything else."
Through corporate sponsorships, the trip for Black and the rest of the U.S. qualifiers is paid for. Nike, adidas, Xerox and Verizon supplied funds for air fare, uniforms, housing and meals.
With a little help, Black should have no trouble understanding instructions from race organizers.
"They said all the instructions will be given in French or English," Black said. "We'll have a translator with us."