LEVELLAND, Texas - The five-time defending NJCAA Track and Field Champions from South Plains College are not yet on the scoreboard as far as the team standings go, but decathletes Juan Vasquez and Nelson Hampton gave head coach Chris Beene plenty to be hopeful about following their day one performance at the Texan Track and Field Complex.
Vasquez, who entered the competition with the NJCAA's best decathlon score, finished the first day of competition only 16 points out of the top spot. Hampton, meanwhile, is fifth.
Vasquez surged to the top of the standings after posting season bests in the final two events of the day, the high jump and 400-meter run.
"Juan is a little behind pace (of his best decathlon), but not much," Beene said. He had a really good last two events. I was really pleased with his high jump (6-07.50) and 400 (49.65).
"Nelson's actually having a very good meet," Beene added. "He is ahead of what we were at the Angelo meet that he qualified in after the first day. We are real proud of him competing."
Beene said his decathlon duo does not have to do anything they have not already done to make their mark on the meet.
"As long as we are solid in the good events and do not do anything too crazy in the bad events I think they will have a chance to do well."
The NJCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships kick off in full force Wednesday with a full slate of running preliminaries in addition to 12 running and field event finals that will help the team titles begin to take shape.
While Beene sounds optimistic about his team's title chances, he shyed away from making predictions.
"I feel good about both our teams chances but until we get through the end of tomorrow and see how we stand and how many finals we have made I won't know for sure."
The decathlon competition will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning with the heptathlon following at 10 a.m. Field events will begin at 10 a.m. with the men's triple jump and shot put. The 4x800-meter relay finals will kick off the running events which conclude with the 4x400-meter relay preliminaries at 7 p.m.