Not even a full season into his college career, first-year thrower Wil Jaques is getting ready to take on the decathlon.
Coming in as a versatile athlete who competed at the state level in New Hampshire in javelin throw, discus throw, shot put and high jump, Jaques is now training to become Lehigh’s second decathlete. He joins sophomore Gideon Coprivnicar, who finished eighth last year at the Patriot League Championships.
The decathlon, an event consisting of the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and the 1500-meter run, is a two-day event that combines all major disciplines of track and field.
Jaques said while taking on this training as a first-year is challenging, he is ready to step up.
“I am putting my trust into my coaching staff to prepare me for the first decathlon,” Jaques said. “I think that my experience prior to Lehigh has put me in a good position to start training the couple events that I do not currently know how to do, such as pole vault and hurdling.”
Assistant coach Allison Taub is in charge of Jaques’ preparation regimen. Jaques said having a coach to oversee the process has helped him improve, and they are always supportive of his growth.
Sophomore Liam Lovering, who competes alongside Jaques in throwing events, said he is impressed by Jaques’ commitment to his team and to himself. He said the transition will be a long road for Jaques and a difficult one to undergo.
“We can see that he is on a mental journey more than anything,” Lovering said. “There are times where he’s too tired to run one more lap, then he’ll run a faster time than he has all day.”
Jaques said he takes guidance from his teammates, who are good at the individual events he competes in. He said his goal is to learn what makes them so successful and apply it to his abilities.
Sophomore javelin thrower Hunter Rodarmel said Jaques came to Lehigh with the desire to be the best student-athlete he can be.
“The two most important attributes Wil (Jaques) has on and off the field are persistence and hard work,” Rodarmel said. “It shows at practice how he wants to be the best and accepts criticism well to make himself a better athlete.”
Jaques’ dedication has made him one of Lehigh’s most successful young throwers, recording a javelin throw of 59.65 meters at the Lehigh Games on April 7, which moved him to sixth all-time on Lehigh’s leaderboard for the event.
Lovering said he believes Jaques’ biggest asset is his curiosity.
“He’s always showing me or other people a video asking how to release the disc better or keep his arm up,” Lovering said. “On the 20-ish-minute ride to Lafayette, most people were listening to music or on their phones with barely enough leg room, and Wil (Jaques) had his laptop out balanced diagonally on his knees asking (his academic mentor) about his computer science work.”
Lovering has not only been a mentor to Jaques, but also one of his closest friends on the team. As throwers, they practice and compete with each other — something Lovering said has made both of them better competitors.
Lovering said he and Jaques are like brothers, always pushing each other but being able to share a laugh at the end of the day.
“A lot of people like to attribute (his successes) to natural talent, but once you get to know him you can tell he’s a great competitor and is willing to do what others aren’t,” Lovering said.
Jaques said he does not expect to compete in a decathlon this year, but is eagerly training for his opportunity in the spring of next year. He will continue to compete in throwing events for the remainder of the season.
Jaques and the rest of the Lehigh men’s track and field team will compete at the Bison Outdoor Classic in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, on April 14-16.