Those who compete in the combined events have unique talents in a variety of events. They don’t concentrate on the technique required by one event, but have to be well rounded and excel at various types of events.
For the Sooners, there are just two such student-athletes who compete in the combined events. That would be junior Makayla Stephens, who is a two-time conference scorer in the heptathlon and pentathlon, and junior Steven Jazdyk, who participates in the decathlon and heptathlon.
During the indoor season Stephens will be competing in the pentathlon, which is comprised of the shot put, the long jump, the high jump, the 60-meter hurdles and the 800-meter run. In the outdoor season, the pentathlon becomes the heptathlon with the addition of the 200-meter dash and the javelin while the 60-meter hurdles extends to the 100-meter hurdles.
For Jazdyk, the heptathlon is competed in the indoor season and it includes the 60-meter dash, the 60-meter hurdles, the 1,000-meter run, the high jump, the pole vault, the long jump and the shot put. Once the competitions move outdoors, he’ll be competing in the decathlon, meaning he’ll need to be well versed in the 100-meter dash, 400-meter dash, 1500-meter run, 110-meter hurdles, high jump, pole vault, long jump, shot put, discus throw and the javelin throw.
Overseeing the duo is first-year assistant coach Jerel Langley, who joined the Sooner staff this summer.
Even though he inherited a pair of athletes who have experienced great success already, Langley has implemented his own teaching methods to try to take them to the next level.
“The work ethic of Steven and Makayla is great,” says Langley. “There have been times where adjusting to new ideas and methods have been challenging but they have been very open and their desire to be good will take them far.”
His first priorities were to focus on working on conditioning and technical adjustments across the different events.
“The greatest improvements have been in our technical changes which have also helped keep us relatively healthy all fall,” explains Langley. “Doing things mechanically efficient is the first step to improving and staying healthy."
When the season begins on Jan. 14, Langley will be viewing it as a starting point, an opportunity to see that the group is taking what has been taught and executing.
“As always, we look for execution in the first part of the season. We are not chasing times or distances but executing what we have been working on to gain confidence. It's a time to get comfortable with what we have been working on.”
With the physical challenges of a multi-event competition, it doesn't show up on every meet schedule. Stephens and Jazdyk will compete individual events in meets that don't include the pentathlon and heptathlon. OU's third meet, the J.D. Martin Invitational, Jan. 27-28, will include both.