Central College’s Will Daniels earned a third-place finish in the decathlon at the NCAA Division III outdoor track and field championships.

Central College’s Will Daniels earned a third-place finish in the decathlon at the NCAA Division III outdoor track and field championships.

A 2016 Geneseo graduate, Daniels finished the season as the indoor heptathlon champion and an All-American in the high jump at the indoor meet.

It was a season of memorable moments for Daniels who was named Central’s Male Athlete of the Year individually, but his favorite moment was winning the Iowa Conference team title.

“Seeing all the seniors holding up the trophy at the end was a special moment,” Daniels said. “Personally, in the pole vault at nationals was cool. I think cleared 14’1.25” which was higher than I ever thought I would clear. It was a moment that really surprised me.”

At the outdoor championships, Daniels was at the top of the leaderboard until he had a setback in the hurdles on the second day of competition, in La Crosse, Wis., on May 25.

A stumble in the hurdles caused Daniels to finish two seconds slower than his seed time and lose his hold on the lead.

Nationals was a reminder of how well rounded every multi-sport athlete must be to become a champion.

“None of the events can really win you a decathlon, but pretty much any of them can lose you a decathlon,” Daniels said. “It wasn’t quite that disastrous for me, but it shows that if you hit one hurdle, or foul a few throws or foul jumps it can set you back. It has to be two full days of good competition if you want to score well.”

On the first day, Daniels had personal bests in three events to take the lead over the field by 173 points.

He opened with a win in the 100-meter dash in 11.32, and he cleared an impressive 6’11” to win the high jump.

He earned third in the shot put with a throw of 40’2.75”, and added a third-place finish of 22’5.75” in the long jump.

“I’m more confident knowing I can hold my own in the multi-events at the national meet,” Daniels said. “I’m a little nervous about it because last year going into the offseason I had a chip on my should and people didn’t really know about me. This year is going to be a little different. I’m going to have to work harder to stay motivated and keep striving for improvements even though I’ve had success and exceed what I was hoping to do in college. I just can’t get complacent.”

Winning the heptathlon during the indoor season, Daniels focused on working on improving his throwing events to make him even more formidable for a run at the decathlon outdoor title.

“I knew they would be big weaknesses coming into the season,” Daniels said. “I think being able to work on those and still place top three was pretty big for me.”

After having such a successful sophomore campaign, Daniels knows the path back will be just as difficult and nothing is guaranteed.

“From the outside, it might seem like it’s going to be a lot easier this upcoming year,” Daniels said. “It’s going to be just as hard. You still have to bring a lot of different events up to a peak at the end of the season. It’s not easy to do. At nationals, it still comes down to who performs best when it counts.”