BLOOMINGTON — In 29 years as Bloomington High School track coach, John Szabo has seen many of his athletes go on to compete in college.
None have gone on to contest the decathlon, but that will change with Dean Jordan’s announcement that he will walk on next year at Southern Illinois University to become a decathlete.
The versatile senior tried the decathlon for the first time last summer and scored 5,075 points.
“It was really fun,” said Jordan, a two-time state triple jump qualifier.
This season, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Jordan appears on The Pantagraph track honor roll in the triple jump (43-10), 110 high hurdles (15.73 seconds) and 300 intermediate hurdles (41.24).
“Dean is a kid who could do a lot of different events,” said Szabo, who wishes he could use Jordan in more than the allowed four events.
“He’s a strong kid, a big kid so I think that (decathlon) is right up his alley.”
Jordan gets most of his decathlon points in the long jump (21-8.25), high jump (5-11), 400 (52.3) and hurdles. Unfortunately, he has only made 9-2 in the pole vault.
“The pole vault is definitely a struggle,” Jordan said. “I lose a lot of points in pole vault.”
Jordan, who also has contested the discus for BHS, didn’t take up the high hurdles until this year.
“With that said, he’s pretty technically sound,” said BHS hurdles coach Keith Enyart, who calls Jordan highly competitive.
“One of his downfalls is that maybe he’s too competitive. Sometimes he gets himself too worked up and just kind of lets that take control.”
Jordan chose SIU over Monmouth, Indiana State and Illinois-Chicago.
“I love Carbondale,” he said. “I have family down there. I go down there every year for Easter. It’s like a home away from home.”
Jordan’s father (Steve), mother (Jennifer) and brother (Mitch) all attended SIU.
“I think secretly they all wanted me to go there,” Jordan said. “They said ‘We’ll support you whatever you do.’ ”
Jordan plans to major in mathematics so he can become a high school teacher and coach. He rates his event coaches at BHS (Enyart) and jumps coach Chip Mosely as “awesome.”
“This year especially I’ve gotten a lot closer to them,” Jordan said. “They are good people to go and talk to whether it’s track or anything.”
Most of the talk surrounding Jordan of late is a hamstring injury, which limited him to one victory in the Intercity Meet, where he was the top seed in three events. He returned for the May 12 Big 12 Conference Meet at Champaign, where he added an inch to his lifetime best in the triple jump to finish third.
Jordan will contest the triple jump in Friday’s 3:30 p.m. Mattoon Sectional and might enter the 300 hurdles if his injury allows.
“He really had some high expectations for his senior year,” Enyart said. “Hopefully it won’t set him back too far.”