#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#EVER since they’ve been competing in the event, Ken Mullings and Kendrick Thompson have been trading their names on the Bahamas men’s national decathlon record.
#The duo, who are now training in different parts of the United States, hooked up at the 63rd annual Mt SAC Relays at the Hilmer Lodge Stadium in Walnut, California over the weekend where Thompson regained the record from Mullings.
#Also at the meet, sprinter Denisha Cartwright was holding her own in her individual events. In finishing in fourth place in the 10 events contested over two days in the decathlon, Thompson became the first Bahamian to rack up more than 8,000 points in his total of 8,038, while Mullings was fifth with 7,933.
#The pair of 25-year-old former team-mates at the University of the Bahamas soared over Mullings’ previous national record of 7,866 that he established at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, last July.
#The duo, however, are still chasing the qualifying standard of 8,460 points for the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, from August 19-27.
#Thompson, whose previous national record was 7,788 that he did in May at the JAC Combined Events Qualifier in Jacksonville, Florida, said his latest performance was what he expected, but it was still unexpected because of how it turned out.
#“It’s always good when I get a chance to compete against Ken. He always brings out the best in me,” Thompson said.
#“We knew that the competition was going to be stiff. I’m just glad that I came out on top and that I’m the first Bahamian to go over the 8,000 mark.
#“I think I put in a lot of work to get ready for the competition, so I expected a little more. But there’s no better feeling when you know that you went out and did the best you could and you came out with the best performance you could achieve. It was a great event.”
#They trailed Harrison Williams, representing Chula Vista Elite, who was the eventual winner with 8,492 points. Heath Baldwin of Michigan State came in second with 8,084 and Austin West of Iowa was third with 8,038.
#Thompson, a former student of Central Andros High and Tabernacle Baptist Academy where he played just about every sport, said when he enrolled at UB, he met Mullings and under coach Ednal Rolle, they began pursuit of the multiple event competition that includes the 100 metres, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400m over the first day and the 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500m on the final day.
#“I’m really excited about the future for us because they both have been training really hard,” said Thompson, who is now training in Dallas, Texas.
#“So it’s going to be a lot of fun whenever we face each other. I think we will continue to push each other to higher heights in the sport.”
#Despite relinquishing his national record, Mullings said he’s still pleased with his performance, producing five out of 10 personal best feats, so he can’t complain.
#He did admit that he encountered some hiccups, but it goes with the territory in competing in the gruelling event. “I’m not mad about what happened at all. I’m still looking forward to finishing at the top because I’m a competitor who loves to win,” Mullings stated.
#“I was actually in second place, but I continued to drop. That’s something I have to learn from and just get ready for the next one.
#“I have to take this loss like a champion and just hope to bounce back and regain the record. I don’t want people to think that it’s the last time the record will be broken. It will be broken at least three more times this year. We just have to wait to see who ends up on top at the end of the season.”
#The pair are expected to travel to Grenada to compete in their next head-to-head meet at the end of the month.
#They are then scheduled to face off in July before the World Championships, if they both qualify or get an invitation to compete.
#If they don’t head to Budapest, their last showdown is expected to be in October.
#Mullings, who is now training in Illinois, said he just needs to focus on his fitness level and he will be okay.
#“There’s a lot more in the tank. That’s why I’m not stressing out about this meeting,” he stated.
#“I just have to go back to training and get a lot stronger and I will be okay. This is just the first decathlon meet for the year, so we have a few more to look forward to competing in. I will be back.”
#Looking back at their performances in the meet, both Thompson and Mullings said if there’s anything they need to concentrate a little more on is the 1,500 metres, which has given them both a lot of struggle.
#If they can improve on their performances, they are both confident that they could be representing the Bahamas at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in August.
#After spending some time grooming both competitors before they left for the United States, Rolle said he’s been impressed with their progression and he feels the sky’s the limit for them as they move on to loftier goals.
#“Because of their work ethics, they are now reaching the next level,” Rolle said.
#“It’s interesting to see how one guy would have the record and the next guy would take it. It’s a continued back and forth situation between them, but they elevate each other.”
#With Thompson being the first to crack the 8,000 point barrier, Rolle said it would only be a matter of time before Mullings joins him because they both continue to improve with the training that they have put in.
#Rolle said if they don’t get to qualify outright for the World Championships, they are hoping that they will remain in the top 10 in the ranking so that they will at last be able to get an invite to compete in the championships like Mullings was able to achieve last year.
#While Thompson missed out on the opportunity because of an injury, he did go to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England last year, but he wasn’t able to overcome the injuries to finish the event.
#in the win column
#In her individual events, Denisha Cartwright, representing Minnesota State, clocked 13.04 to win the women’s collegiate 100m hurdles.
#Danae Dyer of San Diego State was second in 13.27. Cartwright had the second fastest qualifying time of 13.52.
#Karon Dean of UTEP clocked 10.55 for the fifth fastest qualifying time, but he didn’t contest the final that was won by Louie Hinchliffe of Washington State in 10.3.
#Alexis Tilford-Rutherford of the University of Houston cleared 18-9 ¼ (5.72m) for 17th place in the women’s collegiate long jump. Alyssa Jones of Stanford won the event with 21-0 (6.40m).
#And Kaiwan Culmer, competing in the elite men’s triple jump, soared 52-9 ½ (16.09m) for eighth place. The winning leap was 57-3 ¾ (17.47m) by Emmanuel Ihemeje. But both jumps by Culmer and Ihemeje were wind-aided.