LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Dakotah Keys used a huge personal best in the javelin to come from behind and win his second straight Pac-12 decathlon title by just three points Sunday at Loker Stadium and Cromwell Field.
Through eight events, Keys was in third, 223 points behind Washington’s Jeremy Taiwo. But Keys’ monster throw of 219-2/66.81m catapulted Keys into the lead by 54 points. He then stayed just close enough to Taiwo in the 1,500 meters to win with a personal best score of 8,001. Taiwo was second with 7,998 points and Dominc Giovannoni of UCLA was third with 7,364 points.
“It feels really good,” said Keys. “It didn’t start sinking in until a little bit ago. It was really stressful. I didn’t think anything would top what happened last year at home but this is probably one of the best memories with track and field that I have.
“Jeremy’s such a great competitor and I was really nervous about him being here. I guess my training kicked in though. I’m just really excited.”
Keys’ score was the fifth best decathlon total in school history, trailing only Ashton Eaton’s 8,457, Pedro daSilva’s 8,176, Muhammad Oliver’s 8,087 and Craig Brigham’s 8,027. It was also the third best score in the NCAA this season.
Keys opened the second day of the decathlon by running a personal best 14.60 in the 110 meter hurdles. Despite that, Keys fell to third in the overall standings, where he would remain in the javelin.
After a throw of 117-1/35.69 in the discus, Keys won the pole vault with a personal best clearance at 16-0.75/4.90m to close the gap on Taiwo by 50 points.
Keys then captured the javelin with a throw that was a personal best by more than eight feet.
That left the 2013 Pac-12 title to be decided in the 1,500 meters, where Keys needed to stay within approximately :07 of Taiwo. The Husky senior has a PR of 4:17 in the 1,500, while Keys’ best time prior to Sunday was 4:30.
“When he pulled away with 800 to go I was nervous,” said Keys. “In my head there was a second where I just thought, ‘He won and there’s nothing I can do’.
“With about 200 to go and I just thought, ‘this is all I can do, I’m going to go as hard as I can,’ and I just started pumping my arms. Coach said lean and so I leaned at the finish.”
Taiwo won the event in 4:18.23, but Keys ran a :05 personal best to finish in 4:25.76 and edge Taiwo by a field goal.
“That was an awesome win for Dakotah and a great way to start the men’s race for another title,” said Oregon head coach Robert Johnson.
Also on Sunday, Duck freshman Blake Kemp had a personal best in the javelin of 158-1/48.18m as he finished 11th overall with 6,419 points.