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Track & Field: A decade of decathlons for Wunderlich

Tim Wunderlich, a 2005 North Carroll graduate, said he has competed in about 35 decathlons throughout his career — and the Westminster native is showing no signs of decelerating.

Wunderlich, 30, most recently competed in Sacramento at the USA Track and Field Championships on June 22-25. The best track and field athletes in the country competed to qualify for the IAAF World Championships at Sacramento State's Hornet Stadium. Wunderlich finished ninth to qualify for the Thorpe Cup, an international track and field competition between USA and Germany.


This year's Thorpe Cup is set for July 27-30 in Dusseldorf, Germany.

According to the USA Track and Field website, athletes receive a predetermined number of points based upon their performances in each event of the Thorpe Cup's decathlon and heptathlon. The top five men's and women's scores are added together to determine the overall team winners for both.


Teams are composed of up to seven men and women each who compete in the decathlon and heptathlon. The decathlon takes place over two days and consists of 10 events, four track and six field — the 100-meter dash, 110 hurdles, 400 dash, 1,500 run, long jump, high jump, shot put, discus throw, javelin and pole vault. The heptathlon has seven events: the 60-meter run, 60 hurdles, 1,000 run, long jump, high jump, shot put, and pole vault.

"It's a meet I've wanted to do, there's a lot of history behind it...," Wunderlich said. "It was kind of a generated effort to promote the decathlon across the U.S. and across the world to give opportunities to guys who might not go to world championships or the Olympic level. It's second-tier but very elite and gives them a chance to have an international competition and compete against good people."

Wunderlich was recruited as a decathlete by Dartmouth following a successful track and field career at North Carroll, where he won state titles in the discus (145-0) and pole vault (13-0) as a senior.

He participated in the junior Olympics two years in a row prior to entering his freshman year with the Big Green. According to Dartmouth's athletics website, Wunderlich was a three-time NCAA Regional qualifier in the javelin, a two-time U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Division I All-American Team selection, and was a three-time second team all-conference pick between javelin and decathlon.

"I learned a lot about the events and how to approach them mentally and how to progress my training all while balancing an Ivy League course load, which was a challenge too," Wunderlich said. "My college coach was a great mentor for me. He gave me a lot of time and became that older figure I could go to for questions or if I needed help. He helped me through my collegiate career, the ups and downs of it."

He now resides in West Lebanon, New Hampshire, where he most recently completed his third season as Dartmouth's assistant track coach.

"It's hard to train and continue training as a Division I full-time coach but somehow I found a system that works for me," Wunderlich said. "My job allows me to have the flexibility to do that which I'm grateful for, traveling and recruiting and everything that entails as a coach have each helped me as an athlete so that's kind of a blessing.

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"A lot of people don't see that my first priority is coaching. They see me as an athlete, but they don't see me as a coach as much, so if I keep thinking that way, I should be all right."


Wunderlich has been competing in decathlons for a long time and he's become addicted, so to speak. He said he competed in two or three a year during college and two or three every year since he graduated. He admires the athleticism and brotherhood that comes with the grueling competitions, but most of all, he appreciates every chance to learn something new after every one.

"It's amazing how addictive it is when you have a good performance and you realize that there's still more there," Wunderlich said. "That kind of motivates you to tweak things and go back to the drawing board to make improvements. One thing I really like about the decathlon is that it's hard, it's a test of will. I think you can see that when people go out and compete.

"It's not necessarily the best athlete who will win it, it will be the most prepared."