On the strength of his final three events, Joe Cerne moved up 13 spots to finish fourth in the decathlon at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships and earn All-American honors. The junior from Enumclaw, who attends the University of Puget Sound, finished with a total of 6,560, which was a personal-best and sits at No. 3 on the UPS all-time list.
The Division III championships were staged May 23-25 in La Crosse, Wis.
Cerne is Puget Sound’s first track and field All-American since 2006, the first men’s outdoor All-American since 2003 and just the third men’s outdoor All-American in the school’s D-III history.
The decathlon was contested the first two days of the meet.
Day 2 began with the 110-meter hurdles and Cerne finished with a time of 16.82 seconds, which dropped him from 15th to 17th place. However, he rebounded quickly to finish on a hot streak.
He posted his second personal-best mark of the two-day event in the discus. His throw of 122 feet, 8 inches boosted him back up to 15th.
Cerne captured the momentum from his PR to finish in the top three in each of the final three events. He rose above the decathlon field with the highest pole vault of any decathlete. After missing his first two attempts, he cleared the bar on his final try at 14 feet, 11.75 inches to take the top spot in the event.
His vault propelled him up to 10th and had him knocking on the door of the coveted top-eight spots, which earn All-American status. Cerne responded with a javelin throw of 175-3, second-best among the decathletes, and continued his climb up the standings into seventh.
With just one event remaining, Cerne was eyeing the All-American prize. He came in third in the 1,500-meter run with another personal-best time of 4:37.48, maintaining his place as an All-American and bringing him up to fourth in the points standings.
“Joe stayed very composed throughout the competition. It was just a phenomenal second day,” coach Mike Orechia said. “We couldn’t be more proud of his performance.”
“These last two days were a truly humbling experience with a great group of guys in the decathlon – all of which are tremendous athletes,” said Cerne. “I’ve loved the support from friends and family who traveled here and those back home. My coaches were amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better collection of coaches.”
This was Cerne’s second time around at the NCAA decathlon. Last year, he took 14th. He came in to the national meet ranked 14th in Division III. He is a two-sport student-athlete, who was also a starting defensive back on Logger football team last fall.
On April 16, Cerne claimed his second Northwest Conference decathlon title at the NWC Multi-Event Championships. He finished the 10 events with 6,321 points, which was 82 points higher than last year’s winning mark.