Ferry’s Phillips wins WVIAC decathlon crown
Anthony Phillips had a brilliant high school track career at Martins Ferry.
He was an all-Ohioan in hurdles, ran sprints, relays and even long jumped.
Never once, however, did he throw a shot put, pole vault or run anything longer than a 400 meter dash.
Since he’s gotten to Seton Hill University that’s all changed.
And it’s a change he’s certainly not regretting.
Phillips etched his name into West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference history when he became the soon-to-be-defunct conference’s final decathlon champion during the conference track meet last weekend.
“It feels very rewarding,” Phillips said. “I gave a lot of effort through the season to get myself prepared for these two weekends and I was so humbled to see it pay off.”
Phillips finished the competition with 5,870 points and earned the title as the WVIAC’s Greatest Athlete.
“Decathletes are a different breed and most call them crazy,” Phillips joked. “The level of time and dedication to being a multi is more most could handle. If you look at the dynamics, you are showing every aspect of the sport. Crazy is what it takes.”
Along with becoming the last conference champion in the event, Phillips also became Seton Hill’s first conference track and field champion.
Phillips set the tone for the competition on the first day when he won the 100 (11.41), won the long jump (21-ft-5), won the 400 (50.29), finished second in the shot put (38-ft) and third in the high jump (5-ft-7).
“I thought I competed well on the first day, but there were a couple of times when Emerson from Wesleyan and Zahnow from Jesuit got close to my point total, so my coach pulled me aside and let me know what was going on,” Phillips said.
On day two, Phillips came out of the gate strong and won the 110 high hurdles. He then placed fifth in the discus, third in pole vault and fifth in javelin.
“I had asked my coach to stop telling me point totals because I was going to give everything I had toward every event,” Phillips said. “But, after the ninth event, he told me that all I had to do was finish the 1500 to win.”
Phillips finished the race in fourth place, earning the gold medal.
“Knowing I just had to finish made that evil 1500 seem a little less intimidating and a lot more rewarding,” Phillips said.
Though Phillips didn’t try many different events under head coach Rich Materkoski, he gave it some thought as he whittled down his college choices.
“It always intrigued me, but I never thought I’d ever do it,” Phillips said. “I love to compete and wanted to do my part to help the team, however that might have been.”
After Seton Hill came up just shy of winning the WVIAC title last season, Phillips noticed how far down the list of scorers the team was in the decathlon.
“I knew someone had to step up and take one for the team to get points out of the multis, and I knew at that instant that it was going to be me,” Phillips said.
So, he went to his coaches and approached them about learning the events are included in the decathlon.
The decathlon is broken into two days of competition. The opening day consists of the 100 meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 meter dash.
Things certainly step up a notch in the second day when events such as the high hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500 meter run come into the equation.
“At first, the decathlon was something I was just doing out of necessity, but since then I’ve fallen in love with it,” Phillips confessed. “I’ve been a hurdle and sprint guy and I knew knew how much it took to be a thrower or a vaulter. I love every aspect of the decathlon and I’ve gained a respect for every type of athlete who participates.”
For Phillips, learning the events wasn’t the only tough part. Learning them simeltaneously is where the real challenged lied because he had so many to work on.
“I’ve only learned the basics of each event,” Phillips said. “I definitely still have a lot to learn and a lot to improve on. In my mind, nothing in track can be perfect, so there’s always something to learn.”
Phillips, who placed at the state in both the highs and intermediate hurdles, is actually planning on transferring after this season. His intentions are to enroll and compete for Wheeling Jesuit.
He won’t have to sit out a season because next season WJU and Seton Hill will be competing in different conferences as the WVIAC goes dark after this year.
“I decided to go to WJU for many different reasons,” Phillips said. “They have a strong academic core and they’re getting a new track, which is a major bonus.”
The Ohio High School Athletic Association put out an informational letter to schools last week that it had received numerous questions and concerns about the enrollment figures it released last month.
We were surprised to see how some of the numbers had swelled for several area schools, but especially at Barnesville and St. Clairsville.
Both schools’ athletic directors told me this week that their numbers were well off from what they should be and both schools were planning to appeal the numbers. That’s totally within the schools’ rights, too.
Many other schools feel their numbers are too high as well, so it could be until maybe June when we see the divisions for the fall sports announced.
However, we feel that the majortity of area schools will either compete from Division V through VII in the new football system. Buckeye Local would be the one area exception and it would compete in Division IV.
Again, until the OHSAA formally announces the cutoffs, the divisional breaks are strictly rough estimates.
- LAST WEEK, we ran a story from the Cleveland Plain Dealer about Bridgeport native John Havlicek. The auction has since closed and it netted the Ohio State and Boston Celtic legend more than $1 million. While that stuff is obviously worth it, it would have been especially nice had Havlicek donated some of his memorabilia to either OSU, Bridgeport or even the OVAC Museum. Plenty of people would have been anxious to get a glimpse of some of that memorabilia.