Markus Ballengee posted his best-ever decathlon opening day on Wednesday. (Photo by Chuck Aragon)
Liberty's first athlete to compete at the 2018 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, sophomore Markus Ballengee started things out with his best-ever decathlon day one score (3,851). That point total has Ballengee in 17th place at the conclusion of a picturesque Wednesday which saw 9,767 fans take in the action at Hayward Field.
After a slow start to the competition (11.24 in the 100 and 21-8 in the long jump), Ballengee produced a 43-5.25 shot put, posting his best-ever mark within a decathlon by more than a foot.
Ballengee then high jumped an outdoor personal-best 6-7, improving upon his previous season best by three inches. The Commonwealth native tied for the third-highest clearance in the competition and now ranks No. 4 all-time among Liberty decathletes for the high jump.
Despite entering the meet with the slowest 400 personal best (50.05) in the decathlon field, Ballengee came in 14th in the one-lap event with a 49.72 clocking to punctuate his impressive opening day.
Ballengee's score of 3,851 has him just behind the 3,900-point opening day notched by Brandon Hoskins during his school-record 7,800-point effort at the 2008 Texas Relays.
Denzel Pratt topped out at 213-10 during Wednesday evening's men's javelin competition. That placed the junior 17th overall, leaving him just one spot and 22 inches away from earning All-America honors. Pratt ties Elliot Galeone (2011) as the Flames' highest-finishing men's javelin thrower in meet history.
Alejandro Perlaza Zapata got out well in his heat of the men's 400 semifinals. However, he failed to qualify for the final in a loaded event which required a time of 44.98 or faster to advance. Perlaza Zapata's NCAA national debut ended with a 23rd-place finish and a 47.48 clocking.
Up Next Day two of competition in Eugene will begin Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern with Ballengee running the decathlon 110 hurdles.
Dasiana Larson will also be in action on Thursday, throwing the women's hammer at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.
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