Tandy Juell (pronounced Jewel) was close last week but came up just short. Now he's motivated to do even better.
The senior track and field athlete for Minnesota State won the Emporia State Decathlon last week with 6,997 points. The point total was three points shy of automatic qualification to the NCAA Division II outdoor championships. It was also about 27 points off the MSU school record.
"It's a little frustrating to come that close," he said before practice this week. "But I guess it means I have to try harder. Consistency is very important in the decathlon so I have to continue to work on that."
Juell's 6,997-point total was a career best for the Redwood Falls native. His effort included personal bests in the discus (147-feet-10 1/2), the pole vault (14-7 1/4), the 110 hurdles (16.28) and the 1,500 meters (4:49.40). Juell was also first at Emporia (Kans.) in the javelin throw at 178-7.
Juell was recruited out of high school by Bemidji State primarily as a pole vaulter. He quickly expressed a desire to try the decathlon, however, and was given the go-ahead.
"I really like the pole vault," said Juell, who finished third in Class A his senior year. "But I wanted to try other events, too. I think just training for one event your whole college career would get kind of boring."
Juell eventually transferred to MSU to be closer to home and began to blossom as a decathlete. Teammate Nathan Hancock (who is nursing a leg injury) and Robert Gunderson have also flourished at MSU and much of the credit has to go to the Mavericks' coaching staff.
Head coach Mark Schuck has absorbed a lot of knowledge in his 34 years at the helm and is able to disseminate that information well to his student athletes. She same goes for assistant coach Tom Dahlen, pole vaulting coach Matt Kolb, high jump coach Jim Dilling and throwing coach Kevin Sanger.
Schuck said identifying athletes who might be good at the decathlon is fairly simple. You look for guys who are pretty good in two or more events and who also might embrace the idea.
"The decathlon is a very difficult endeavor because it really takes a toll on your body," Schuck said. "It's a big commitment and not everybody wants to do it."
Schuck said Juell was already a decathlete before he arrived at MSU so there was no need to convince him into giving it a try. He has the work ethic to train in all the events which requires speed, strength and stamina.
"Tandy doesn't have to be coaxed at practice," Schuck said. "He knows what he needs to work on and goes out and does it. It's the same with Nate (Hancock) and Robert (Gunderson)."