Alex Llamas, an incoming junior at Tokay High School, qualified for the decathalon at this month’s National Junior Olympics after winning the event in his division at Regionals.
This summer, Alex Llamas decided that four events weren't enough for him at a track and field meet. So he doubled his output. Then, he added two more events for good measure.
A talented cross country runner and hurdler at Tokay High School, Llamas has devoted the summer between his sophomore and junior year to become a decathlete — and he's done it practically in the heat of competition.
One of four male decathletes from the Lodi Track Club competing at the Junior Olympics Regional Championships on Monday and Tuesday, Llamas won the Intermediate Boys division.
He did it with about two or three weeks of training in many of the events.
"I just thought, 'Hey, I'm going to go for it.' I didn't think I was going to win," said Llamas, "but I ended up pulling it off."
Llamas' signature events in track are the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, having hurdled at the Division I section meet this spring. Llamas has also been a top-five cross country runner for the Tigers at the frosh-soph level.
As for everything else not related to running?
Those events came pretty much on the fly.
"It was a pretty crazy ride. I literally have been pole vaulting for a week, I've never done shot put at all," said Llamas, whose 4,690 points at the meet in Tulare were 182 ahead of the runner-up. "Javelin was basically a two-week practice." Llamas was third after Monday's first five events: the 100m dash, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m sprint.
But on Tuesday, he won both the 110m hurdles and the 1500m, while scoring well enough in the pole vault, javelin throw and discus throw to pull out the win.
Competing in new events was difficult enough — Llamas deemed the pole vault most intimidating — but switching focus from one to another in a single meet provided a mental challenge, as well.
"It's definitely straining," Llamas said. "You have a half hour between each event and your mindset just has to switch each time."
And now, his mind is focused the National Junior Olympics, which he advanced to after winning at Regionals. Nationals take place in Baltimore, Maryland from July 23-29.
Lodi's four decathletes were the club's most at the Regional Championships in 10 years. In the Young Men's Division, Lodi High's Colin Anderson took third (5,213 points), Clay Shields was fifth (4,646) and Robert Peckham was seventh (4,520).