Darrell Moody: Former Dayton star wins JC national title in decathlon
May 22, 2018
An impressive win.
That's the only way to describe J.J. Ply's decathlon championship at last weekend's National Junior College Track & Field championships in Butler, Kan.
Ply, a freshman at Central Arizona, scored 7,010 points to outdistance Marcus Klein of Iowa Western (6,663 points) and Connor Williamson of Paradise Valley (6,345 points).
Ply trailed by eight points with the javelin and 1500 meters left. He won the javelin with a throw of 174-feet 10-inches for 637 points, and followed that up with a 4:26.52 for the win in the 1500 for 768 points.
"My coach was keeping me up to date," Ply said. "I don't keep track of where everybody is when I'm competing. I felt pretty good going into those events. Those are two of my better events."
The former Dayton star finished in the top five in every event except the 100, the first event, where he finished 12th among the 15 competitors, clocking a 11.82 for 687 points.
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He followed that up with a third in the long jump (21-10 3/4, 736 points), threw 36-feet for a fifth-place finish in the shot put, added a second-place finish in the high jump (6-4 3/4, 758 points) and concluded the first day of competition with a sixth-place finish in the 400 (50.58, 788 points).
Ply opened the second day of competition with a fourth-place finish in the 110 hurdles (15.47, 794 points), added a second-place finish in the discus (124-9, 625 points) and tacked on a tie for first in the pole vault (13-9 1/4, 673 points). That set the stage for his wins in the javelin and 1500, cementing his first national title.
The 7,010 points was his second-best total. He scored 7,014 at a meet earlier this year. He scored 7,111 during his junior days.
"I was trying to hit 7,200," Ply said. "I had a hiccup in the hurdles and high jump.
"I definitely need to improve my shot put and discus. Those are my lower-scoring events."
Ply said part of the reason why weight events are slow to come around is those two events aren't ones he attempts with any regularity. The discus is all about technique, and it takes years to pick up proper discus technique.
His performance certainly has to make him a valuable recruit a year from now when he transfers from Central Arizona next spring. Purdue has already shown some interest, and he's talked to Azusa-Pacific and Central Arkansas.
Some thoughts about the state meet, which ended last weekend at Carson High.
There were some outstanding performances to be sure, but I thought the meet lacked the star power that other meets I've attended featured.
That being said, Carson's Abigail Pradere has established herself as a premier runner in the state, and I'll be anxious to see her lower her times next year. I certainly think a sub-5-minute 1600 is definitely doable, and I think she can get under 2:10 in the 800.
Keep an eye on Ben Granados, who made state in both the 100 and 200. Granados is out for spring football now, and I think that weight work will get him bigger and stronger for the next track season when I fully expect him to reach state in both events.
And, since we're in track mode, I'd like to see Nevada go to ONE state track meet. If California can do it, why can't Nevada?
It seems political. Big schools don't want to lose to the small schools, and the small schools are being afraid of not having their day in the sun. Why can't track officials figure out a way to have both?
Track is an individual sport. It always has been and always will be. It's why I don't think postseason meets should be scored. Teams don't move on in competitions, individuals do.