Dazzling decathlon debut for Jeffery
The process of elimination landed Samuel Jeffery in the sport of decathlon.
“I couldn’t choose an event that I wanted to focus on so I chose 10,” the 17-year-old Fonthill resident said of the discipline, which includes 100 metres, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 metres, 110-metre hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500 metres.
It was obviously the right choice for the Grade 12 student at E.L. Crossley based on his results this past summer. Competing in his first decathlon, he won the Athletics Ontario decathlon title. In his second, he brought home gold at the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships in Sherbrooke, Que.
“The first one I put myself into it to kind of get prepared for nationals because I knew that was going to be a tougher one,” the Athletics Niagara member said.
He ended up winning the provincial title by more than 600 points but the national championship was a lot closer.
“That was really tough because there were a lot of good competition there. Me and another guy were battling it out until he stumbled in hurdles. After that, I knew I could win.”
It was an awesome moment when the gold medal was placed around his neck.
“It was definitely cool for my coach (Paul Peebles) and I to experience. It was great to do it for him and my dad (Todd Jeffery) who drove me all the way out there. It was a nice feeling to be on top of the podium in front of all the teams.”
Peebles played a major role in Jeffery’s success.
“He just retired so every day he goes out with me no matter what time I ask him. We usually try to go four or five days a week and he and I both are always asking for extra workouts.”
Heading into the season, Jeffery had no expectations for where he would place on the provincial or national podium.
“I was more focused on the number, to be honest. So long as I hit over 6,500 (points), I wasn’t worried about the placement,” he said. “I was happy to hit that and I didn’t expect to win both.”
His winning score at nationals was 6,519.
“Learning from the events, I know I can get much higher. It was cool to see that I still have room to grow.”
He has improved a lot as an athlete in the past year.
“I have grown a lot strength-wise from last year. Last year, I was more learning the technique and I wasn’t really developed physically. That is when I started working out a lot and lifting four or five days a week.”
The next step in his progression will be more of the same.
“I have to keep lifting and working out and there’s a lot of things that I can fix technically, especially for hurdles and my throws. I know the heights and weights are going to go up so I have to make adjustments to that too.”
Jeffery’s goal is to obtain a track and field scholarship in the United States.
“I am trying to get recruited, get my name out there, go to a bunch more meets and improve my numbers.”
He already has had interest from a couple schools but has yet to receive an offer. Jeffery is planning to study kinesiology and the calibre of education will obviously be a factor in his decision.
“I don’t necessarily need Division 1 or a huge school. I just want to do my own thing and be a big fish in a smaller pond.”
His numbers in the decathlon are already good enough to garner scholarship interest but he also needs to excel at one event to further cement his status as a bonafide recruit. He is hoping that event will be long jump and he has targeted a personal best of seven metres. His goal for the decathlon in 2023 is 6,800 points.
Jeffery has help in his scholarship pursuit. Older sister Tessa is a scholarship distance runner at NCCA Division 2 Washburn University
“She is the one who got me started in track and field and I still look up to her. I want to do what she is doing.”
Tessa has provided him with some valuable advice.
“She told me to do my own thing and don’t look for the big name schools where you are not going to fit in. Make sure you get what you want with the facilities and a coach that really suits you. Wherever you are most comfortable and whoever wants you the most, that is where you should go.”
This spring, he qualified for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations’ track and field championships in hurdles, pole vault, long jump and the 4X400-metre relay. He missed a bronze medal in the long jump by a centimetre and came within 0.1 seconds of making the finals for the hurdles.
He will be running cross country for Crossley this fall.
“My coach wants me to do it for the cross training. It will be tough but I will get through it.”