Jim Krajewski, email@example.com
Published 6:21 p.m. PT July 25, 2017 | Updated 6:50 p.m. PT July 25, 2017
Dayton’s Jonathan ‘JJ’ Ply is a national champion.
Ply won the Junior Olympic 17-18-year-old decathlon on Tuesday at Rock Chalk Park, Kansas with 7,111 points. Ply decimated the field as Isaiah Martin was second with 6,487 points and Peyton Hack was third with 6,406 points.
Ply recovered quickly after coming off a win at Western Regionals last week, scoring 200 points better at Nationals than he did at Westerns. He broke the record at Westerns by 500 points.
On Tuesday, he beat a field of 21 competitors while wearing a T-shirt that read ‘Nevada Decathlete.’
“I just did my thing and was able to put up the amount of points that I did,” Ply said.
He won the 1500-meter race Tuesday, the tenth event, with a time of 4 minutes 18.99 seconds, a personal best for him. He won four of the five events Tuesday with personal bests.
In the 1500, Ply broke away from the pack at the start of the race and won by 17.41 seconds. He won the javelin with a throw of 182-10; tied for first in the pole vault at 13-5.5; was fifth in the discus with a PR of 122-1; and won the 110 hurdles in 14.70.
On Monday, Ply won the high jump at 6-8 3/4; took fifth in the 400 (51.72); fourth in the shot (42-1 1/2); 13th in the long jump (19-9 3/4); and 16th in the 100 (12.05), his second best time in that event.
He has been competing in decathlon for about 3 1/2 years
Ply said that driving to Kansas might have helped him recover after the Western Regional, as he was not able to train or work out for three days.
JJ Ply on top of the medal stand at the Junior Olympic national decathlon championship on Tuesday in Rock Chalk Park, Kansas.
Paul Heglar with the Reno/Tahoe Athletics Club, is helping to coach Ply.
Ply was home schooled, but played basketball and ran track for Dayton. He was a first-team All-League selection in basketball and won three state titles in track and field.
The win represented another milestone for Ply and his family.
Last year, a day after the Junior Olympic National Championships, the family home in Dayton burned down and Ply ended up sleeping on friends couches. He said he used sports as a way to help cope with that tragedy.
He will attend Central Arizona Junior College in the fall, then hopes to move to a Division I school. Because he was home-schooled, he must attend a JC before going to a four-year school.
Ashton Eaton, a two-time Olympic champion, and Carl Lewis, who won nine Olympic gold medals. were announcers for the JO national decathlon. Eaton presented medals at the awards ceremony.
Ply said Eaton simply told him to keep improving.