EUGENE, Ore. – Fresh off an NCAA DII Outdoor Track & Field national title in the men's decathlon, Saginaw Valley State University senior Sam Black is set to compete at the national level this weekend in Eugene, Ore.
Black, a native of Pinckney, Mich., earned a spot in the 2020 US Olympic Track & Field Team Trials and will compete against the very best decathlon athletes in the country Saturday and Sunday at the Hayward Field.
"When I found out that I had made it, I was thrilled and my parents were beyond excited," Black said.
The two-day event will get started with the 100-meter dash at 1 pm (PST) on Saturday, concluding with the 1,500-meter run scheduled for 7:23 pm (PST) on Sunday.
The road to the Olympic trials took shape for Black at the Mount Olive First Chance Meet, May 14-15 in North Carolina. Black shattered the SVSU school record with 7,807 points in the decathlon, automatically qualifying for the NCAA DII Championships.
"Sam is a very determined and disciplined guy, and it's been fun to see his growth," SVSU Head Track & Field Coach Rod Cowan said. "He identified the trials as a goal for himself a few years ago and he started seeing some progress in some events. He really is a remarkable athlete, especially in the sense of being able to block out the noise and focus on a goal like this."
Black, who originally came to SVSU as a walk-on member of the Cardinal men's basketball team, has continued to set new standards for himself since shifting his focus to track & field, already leaving a legacy of excellence.
"I loved basketball and being a part of that team as a freshman was amazing, but I wanted to compete and Rod (Cowan) was excited to have me on the team, giving me an opportunity," Black said. "When I was getting recruited for track out of high school, the decathlon was what I wanted to do. It's a test of the ability of any athlete and I love that."
The success of Black in the decathlon is the latest in a growing trend of success for the Cardinals in the multi-events over the last several years. Black's win at the 2021 NCAA DII Outdoor Championships gave SVSU its third multi-event national title in less than three months, with teammate Cheyenne Williamson taking the Pentathlon in the indoor season and the Heptathlon in the outdoor for the Cardinal women. Lauren Huebner won the Heptathlon at the 2019 outdoor championships for SVSU.
"None of this would have been possible without my teammates and coaches," Black said. "The chance to work with the great athletes and coaches at SVSU was a big part of what got me here."
The US Olympic Team Trials will include a Cardinal for the second consecutive go around, as Black joins former teammate Robert Atwater who competed in the high jump at the 2016 trials.
"The opportunity for SVSU as a program to send athletes to the trials is big, especially for an event like the decathlon, in which the US has produced a number of medalists on the world stage," Cowan said.
Full list of Decathlon events and times for the 2020 US Olympic Team Trials (All times are PST)
Saturday, June 19:
1:00 PM: 100-meter dash
1:50 PM: Long Jump
2:50 PM: Shot Put
4:00 PM: High Jump
6:18 PM: 400-meter dash
Sunday, June 20:
12:15 PM: 110-meter hurdles
1:20 PM: Discus Throw
3:45 PM: Pole Vault
5:15 PM/6:15 PM: Javelin
7:23 PM: 1,500-meter run
The competition at Hayward Field will be televised on the NBC family of networks. Live coverage of the decathlon can be found on Youtube by CLICKING HERE.