Grant Bunyard competed in the decathlon for the first time about a month ago.
Three weeks later, the Atholton graduate won a national championship in the combined event.
Bunyard, a freshman at Howard Community College, finished first in the decathlon at the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III outdoor track and field championships on May 9-11.
“In high school, I had done a lot of the events before,” Bunyard said. “I had done a lot of the hard ones like pole vault, long jump and high jump. I already knew how to do the harder events. Just picking up the last few events was what I was training for this past season.”
The decathlon is 10 events completed across two days. The events are the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500-meter run.
“It’s hard to train for 10 events, because you can’t focus on any one event,” he said. “You never get as much work with a single event as you need, which is the difficult part about the decathlon.”
Bunyard finished first with 4,978 points — ahead of the 4,819 points scored by Sandhills Community College’s (North Carolina) Alex Worley.
He finished first in the 100, 400, 110 hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot put and javelin. He placed second in the pole vault and the discus and sixth in the mile.
“Ninety percent of the decathlon is mental strength,” Bunyard said. “It shows if you’re willing to put in the work when it counts. Most of the success comes from preparation. Training for 10 events is hard, especially because I don’t have a coach in all 10 events. It’s hard to become good at all 10 events.”
Bunyard, who was a member of Atholton’s national-qualifying 4x100- and 4x200-meter relay teams as a senior last spring, is a James W. Rouse Scholar at HCC. He is majoring in mechanical engineering, and he plans to attend the University of Maryland after his two years at HCC. He plans on double majoring in mechanical engineering and physics at College Park, where he hopes to make the track and field team.