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Calvin athlete takes detour from decathlon

08/22/2015, 12:00pm PDT
By Terry Monahan

Track-and-field family allows son to try a new sport

Before joining the football team, Calvin Christian’s Jordan Thomsen participated in the USA Track & Field Hershey Championships near Chicago a few weeks ago, placing second in the decathlon.

— In the Thomsen household, track season lasts 12 months a year.

So when Jordan Thomsen sought his parents’ permission to play 8-man high school football at Calvin Christian — he had never played the sport before — the request was not met with an enthusiastic response.

Eventually, though, Thomsen received permission under one circumstance.

“I can’t get hurt,” he said, laughing. “Dad is the only reason I’m playing football. He likes football.

“Mom is really into track. She said if I get hurt in football I’m done.

“If it was up to mom, I wouldn’t be playing football right now.”

Thomsen’s foray onto the gridiron is as a wide receiver and defensive back for the Crusaders, who open the season at home against St. Joseph on Sept. 4.

Yet the junior will remain entrenched in track. Thomsen is in his second year as a decathlete, an event not offered during high school track season in the spring.

The decathlon is a grueling 10-event grind over two days. Thomsen competes in the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put and high jump, and then concludes the first day with the 400. His second day includes the 110 high hurdles, discus, pole vault and javelin and finishes with the 1,500.

His favorite event is either the pole vault or the 110 hurdles. The 400 and the 1,500 are his least favorite.

“You have to put everything you have left in the 1,500 after nine events,” Thomsen said. “You know what time you need to win. Dad always sits at the corner of the track and yells times at me.”

Mike Wagenzeld, the pole vault coach at Calvin Christian, gets the credit for introducing Thomsen to an event most Americans don’t follow except every four years during the Summer Olympics.

Thomsen started out as a pole vaulter, but Wagenzeld saw an all-around athlete, not just a vaulter.

A few weeks ago, Thomsen participated in the USA Track & Field Hershey Championships at Benedictine College near Chicago. He placed second, missing out on first place by less than 300 points.

“In the decathlon world, 300 points is very close,” Thomsen said. “A few more inches in the javelin or a few seconds faster in any running event and that’s about the difference.”

Once football ends, Thomsen will return to his training regimen — with brother Ryan, who is one year older at Calvin Christian — for the next meet in April at Arcadia.

“I’ve done track for so long I am looking forward to playing football under the lights,” Thomsen said. “I didn’t want to wake up in my 30s and regret not at least trying to play football.

“I realize every other player on the field is ahead of me in having instincts to play this game. I’m really working on my instincts right now.

“I could also use some work on a touchdown dance as well.”

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