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Track & Field

Westmont’s Pieter Top Wins NAIA Decathlon Title

For the third year in a row, a Westmont multi-event athlete has been crowned national champion at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships.

Sophomore Pieter Top won the men's decathlon on Friday in Gulf Shores, Ala. He follows Becky Collier as a multi-sports national champion. She won the women's heptathlon in 2017 and 2016.

Top finished with 6,833 points, the most of any Westmont athlete since 1972 and the most since the decathlon scoring table was revised in 1984.

Also earning All-American honors in the event was Anthony Cota, who finished seventh with 6,521 points. Cota's total was the ninth best performance in Westmont history. Jackson Nemitz finished in 11th place with a 6,160 points.

"The three of them together really were outstanding," said Westmont head coach Russell Smelley. "They represented Westmont at an exceptional level. I don’t know if we’ve had three decathletes in the meet at one time before. What it does is it continues the tradition that we’ve had since the sixties of multi-eventers doing well at the national championship level. We’ve returned to that with the decathlon."

Westmont multi-events coach Josh Priester said Top is an athlete that rises to the ocassion.

"Pieter was ranked fifth or sixth coming in and he wins," he said . "In the big moments, Pieter rises up. A lot of people come in ranked a certain position and they want to just match what they’ve done – that’s not good enough for Pieter. He’s a gamer and he’s a fighter."

The decathletes endured thunderstorm delays several hours long on both days, but it did not seem to effect Top who set personal records in eight of the 10 events. 

"That’s an eighty percent improvement across the board," noted Priester. "That’s really difficult to do. The longer you compete the harder it is to do that. I think the biggest thing is Pieter has so much heart and he’s a competitor."

Top finished first in 100 meter dash (10.92), the long jump (6.81m), the 400 meters (48.48) and the 1500 run (4:21.52). He also notched a third place finish in the 110 meter hurdles (15.13).

Going into the final event, the 1500 meter run, Top led by just 10 points. His win in the last race, however, left no opportunity for any of the other 15 competitors to overcome him.  

"He was hurting," said Priester. "It looked like there was a moment where he might back off and give up and he found another gear. I think that’s what distinguishes somebody from being good and having the opportunity to be truly great."

Said Top: "It has been a journey. It was a long decathlon with the lightning delays. Day one felt great. I had some PRs that really helped me in day two. Having two teammates out there made a world of difference. In the decathlon, all the competitors are your brothers. It really brings everyone together. We all go through the pain together."

Also earning All-American titles were Westmont's women's 4 x 800 meter relay team of senior Janna Jensen, junior Abigail White, freshman Casey Jensen and senior Hope Geisinger. The quartet placed sixth in the finals with a time of 9:14.74, which was 0.27 seconds faster than yesterday's preliminary time and the third fastest time in Westmont history.

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