May 12, 2005
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - For one year at least, University of New Mexico junior Dan Feltman can claim the title as the greatest athlete in the Mountain West Conference. The Deming, N.M. native pushed through more rain storms and a lightning delay to capture his first career decathlon victory in impressive fashion with a score of 7,250 points this afternoon at Colorado State University's Jack Christiansen Track. Teammates Derek McDonald and Jason Bigott finished fourth and seventh, respectively, to give the men of New Mexico an early lead in the four-day meet with a score of 17 points.
A fourth place finisher last year, Feltman dominated the field this time around with a 534-point victory over the runner-up, Air Force sophomore Brian Walsh. The 6-4 Feltman held a 106-point lead entering the day and never faltered, finishing second in each of the first four events.
He opened the day with a solid altitude adjusted time of 15.34 in the 110-meter hurdles, just behind McDonald, who won the event with a career-best time of 15.26. Bigott finished close behind in fifth with a time of 16.12.
Feltman continued to flourish in the next two events, the discus and pole vault, both of which had given trouble in previous MWC Championships. Two years after fouling on all three of his attempts, Feltman was outstanding in the discus, just missing his personal best with a throw of 138-07. Following the lightening delay, he recorded the second-highest mark of his career in the pole vault (14-09.00) to extend his lead to over 600 points. While BYU senior Devin Howe (182-01) pulled a bit of an upset to edge him (180-11) by two feet in the javelin, Feltman's victory was virtually secure.
With another storm looming, the competitors agreed to cut out their normal 30-minute rest period between events and proceeded right to the track for the 1,500-meter run. Feltman cruised to a seventh place finish (4:57.09) to become the second Lobo in four years to capture the decathlon title. He also became just the third athlete in UNM history to win a conference decathlon crown, joining Mark Johnson (2002) and former All-American Gary Kinder (1985).
McDonald, meanwile, held onto fourth place over the final five events with his victory in the hurdles and a third place finish in the pole vault (14-01.25). The Albuquerque Eldorado product scored 6,580 points in his first collegiate decathlon to finish just 55 points out of all-MWC position.
Bigott, who was also making his collegiate decathlon debut, improved two spots on Thursday to give New Mexico a pair of points. The Los Alamos, N.M. native finished third in the javelin (171-08) and fourth in the 1,500 (4:51.22) to power his late surge up the standings.
Earlier in the day, sophomore Stefany Setliff placed 12th in the women's heptathlon competition.
The rest of the field gets underway tomorrow as the field events start at 10 a.m. with the women's hammer and the running events begin at 1:30 p.m. with the women's steeplechase.