June 7, 2012
Marcus Nilsson earned the first All-America honor of his career on Thursday evening after finishing sixth in the decathlon at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, IA. Nilsson was ninth after day one of the 10-event competition and used two big lifetime-best performances on Thursday to finish sixth overall. His sixth-place finish marks the first time since 1987 that a Bruin has scored in the decathlon (Jim Connolly won the title that year).
Day two in the decathlon started off with the high hurdles. Nilsson was running out of lane four in heat two and clocked the third-fastest time in his heat, 15.24, to pick up 821 points. He fell from ninth to 14th overall after the hurdles.
In the discus, Nilsson opened up with a throw of 133-5 and then improved to 138-4 and 139-1 on his next two attempts. He picked up 713 points with his mark. After the discus, he moved from 14th to 11th in the competition.
Up next was the pole vault, often an Achilles heel for the Swede this season, but after passing the first four bars (12-5.50, 12-9.50, 13-1.50 and 13-5.25), Nilsson entered the competition with the bar at 13-9.25 and cleared on his first attempt. He followed that up with four more first attempt clearances - 14-1.25, 14-5.25, 14-9 and 15-1. The bar then went to 15-5, which would be a new lifetime-best, and Nilsson cleared it on his first attempt. Then the bar moved to 15-9 and Nilsson missed on his first attempt, but cleared on his second and continued in the competition. The bar then went to 16-00.75 and he could not clear the bar. Nilsson picked up 849 points with his final clearance of 15-9 and finished ninth overall. He continued to stand in 11th-place with just the javelin and 1500m remaining.
In the javelin, Nilsson opened up with a first round throw of 170-6. He improved in a big way on his second throw, posting a mark of 185-2. His final throw went for a distance of 181-7 and Nilsson finished seventh overall in the javelin, picking up 685 points. He continued to stand in 11th-place with just one event remaining, the 1500m.
Nilsson wrapped up his two-day competition in the 1500m by running in second-place for the first 1200m of the race. He dropped to third after the 1200m mark, but fought hard down the stretch to finish second in a lifetime-best of 4:18.01. He picked up 825 points with that time and totaled a new lifetime-best of 7823 points in the decathlon. He came into the meet with a top score of 7539 points. Nilsson moved from 11th before the 1500m to sixth overall to earn the first All-America honor of his career.
Nilsson will now look to be named to Sweden's National Team for the European Championships. He finished ahead of two of his countrymen in the decathlon competition and surpassed 7800 points.
"It was a great performance by Marcus," said Head Coach Mike Maynard. "He finally got his mojo back in the vault and hit an outdoor PR and that was great to see. His javelin mark wasn't great, but solid enough to help his score. We asked him to run around 4:20 to get up and score and he ran a really gutsy race to run 4:18."
"Marcus has the heart of a champion and he proved it in the competition," said volunteer combined-events coach Rob Jarvis. "He has just barely skimmed the surface of what he's capable of doing. I couldn't be more proud of how he competed at here."
Jarvis is in his second year as a volunteer coach with the Bruin men and Nilsson is the first division I All-American he has coached.
In the semifinals of the 200m, junior Maxwell Dyce was running out of lane one and heat one. He finished seventh in his heat in a time of 21.04 and was 23rd overall. Dyce earns honorable mention All-America honors with today's finish.
Redshirt freshman Derek Eager opened up the javelin competition with a throw of 211-8 and stood in seventh-place after round one of flight one. On second attempt, there was no improvement as he posted 198-9. His third throw went for a distance of 210-9 and he finished 22nd overall to earn All-America honorable mention honors.