Chico State teammates John Brunk (left) and J Patrick Smith (right) raise their decathlon trophies with Darius Walker, Central Missouri State, at the Thunderbowl in May.

Chico State teammates John Brunk (left) and J Patrick Smith (right) raise their decathlon trophies with Darius Walker, Central Missouri State, at the Thunderbowl in May.

Sophomore Leads Wildcats to All-American Victory 

His name is J Patrick Smith. That’s a J without a period. But if you insist on using some form of punctuation, you can put it at the end of the formal title he earned on May 25: J Patrick Smith, 2012 NCAA Division II Men’s Track & Field decathlon champion.

Smith posted seven personal records (PRs) to reign over the two-day, 10-event competition at the Thunderbowl in Pueblo, Colorado. The sophomore from Santa Barbara is Chico State’s third NCAA decathlon champion in the past 20 years. Along with teammate and fourth-place finisher John Brunk, Smith also joined an illustrious lineage of 15 Wildcats who have earned All-America accolades in the event.

Smith’s most important PR was his final score of 7,366—the most ever scored by a Wildcat—breaking Assistant Coach Trevor Papp’s school record by nearly 100 points. He also notched PRs in the 100-meter, 400-meter, 1,500-meter, 110-meter high hurdles, long jump, shot put, and discus.

“John and I set out to be All-Americans. That was our goal,” says Smith. “A national championship wasn’t even in my mind as a possibility.”

At least not until he entered the final event—the 1,500-meter—knowing he needed to beat leader Darius Walker of Central Missouri State by five seconds to move into first place. Smith couldn’t shake Walker for most of the race, but with 150 meters to go, cramps gripped Walker’s calves, crushing his title hopes, as Smith sailed to the finish and the national crown.

“At the time it felt funky because I felt bad for Darius,” says Smith. “Over those two days, you really get to know all the guys. You become friends. You hate to see something like that happen. It took me a while to really enjoy it. But eventually I did thanks to [coach] Oliver’s advice.”

“A lot can go wrong over those two days,” says Oliver Hanf, head women’s track and field coach. “There’s a right way to do things, and JP did everything right. He may not have been celebrating, but I was doing enough celebrating for the both of us.”

Luke Reid, Chico State Sports Information

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Cup Runneth Over for Chico State Wildcats

  • The 2012 Chico State baseball team wrote its own chapter in the long history of Wildcat baseball successes with the program’s eighth West Region title in 16 years.
  • The Wildcats won their second straight California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Commissioner’s Cup, presented to the conference’s top athletic department, after winning CCAA titles in seven of 12 conference-sponsored sports in 2011–2012.
  • The Wildcats advanced 11 of their 13 teams to the NCAA Championships to finish eighth out of more than 300 NCAA Division II institutions in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings.
  • The Wildcats were once again among the headliners at the 2012 NCAA Golf Championships, winning the stroke play portion prior to placing second in medal/match play behind All-Americans Kevin Rei, Eric Frazzetta, and Kyle Souza. This year’s CCAA Male Athlete of the Year, Kyle Souza, won the 2011 individual title.
  • J Patrick Smith, John Brunk, Alia Gray (10,000 meters), and Amy Schnittger (3,000-meter steeplechase) won All-America honors at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.
  • Chico State softball advanced to the NCAA Championship Tournament for the third straight season behind the play of CCAA MVP and All-American Hailey Stockman.

Visit Chico State Athletics for more season highlights.