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PREP TRACK: ‘Rested’ Shaver takes first-day lead in decathlon, while Fayetteville’s Gunnell leads heptathlon

by Henry Apple | May 18, 2023 at 2:46 a.m.
Fayetteville’s Julia Gunnell (center) clears a hurdle during the 100-meter hurdles Wednesday in the Arkansas state high school heptathlon competition at Ramay Junior High School in Fayetteville. More photos at (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Andy Shupe)

FAYETTEVILLE -- A little nap between events may have worked in Will Shaver's favor Wednesday afternoon.

The Crossett junior said he may have dozed off while he waited to compete the long jump, and he used the day's best performance in that event to take the first-day lead in the state high school boys decathlon at Ramay Junior High School. Shaver compiled 3,487 points, while Fayetteville senior Julia Gunner assumed the top spot in the girls heptathlon with 2,656 points through four events.

Shaver, who competed in the seventh of eight flights during the competition, said he waited "about 40-50 minutes" between the time he ran the 100 meters and took part the long jump. When his turn finally arrived, though, he picked up 713 points with a leap of 21 feet, 6.75 inches.

"I probably needed the rest, so it was pretty good," Shaver said. "I almost fell asleep -- I probably did for about 10 minutes. The long jump, I did pretty good. I didn't do as good as I wanted in the 100, but it worked out."

Shaver, who finished 12th in last year's decathlon, said his goal was to surpass the 6,000-point mark, and he's well on his way to doing that. In addition to his success in the high jump, he had personal bests in the shot put and the high jump and finished at least 11th in all five events.

"I just knew what I wanted to get, but not the point totals," Shaver said. "I really improved on the shot put and the high jump. I wanted to get 40 feet in the shot and did that, then I only got 5-1 in the high jump and went almost 5-11. That's a big jump."

A pair of Fayetteville athletes competing provided Shaver with his closest competition as Cooper Williams had the best high jump (6-6.75) and compiled 3,429 points, while Sloan Jones was right behind at 3,412. Brody Emberton of Clinton is in fourth place with 3,337 points, three points ahead of University of Arkansas football signee Shamar Easter of Ashdown.

Other event winners included Rogers' Issac Chapman in the shot put (47-9.5) and El Dorado's DeAundra Burns Jr. in the 100 (10.82 seconds) and the 400 (50.37).

Gunnell's philosophy of consistency and not focusing too much on one event worked and helped her move into the lead in the heptathlon. She finished second in the 100 hurdles (15.14) and in the long jump (17-7.5) despite a 3-hour wait between those events. She then took seventh in the discus (89-10) and sixth in the 200 (26.46).

"I didn't PR in anything, but I stayed consistent with what I could do and the amount of training I've had in some events," Gunnell said. "I only threw the discus about a week and a half ago and almost went 90 feet, so that's pretty good.

"Honestly, I stayed consistent with solid marks. I didn't let anything take me down. I didn't focus on any one thing too much, just dialed in the whole day. I didn't let myself get too distracted too much, like leave the track or anything. I just focused on what was next and didn't look too far ahead."

Three of Gunnell's closest competitors each won an event Wednesday. Cabot's Laylah Reese won the 100 hurdles (14.93 for 851 points) and moved into second place with 2,605 points.

Morgan Maier of Rogers had the best 200 time (26.74 for 839 points) and was third with 2,536. Emelia Thurston of Bentonville has the best long jump (18-7.25 for 750 points) and had 2,473 points for fourth place, nine more than Ava Goetz of Fayetteville.

Julie Lieu of Sheridan had the only other first-place finish in the heptathlon in the discus (107-11).

The competition resumes at 9 a.m. today. The boys will take part in the 110 hurdles, discus, pole vault, triple jump and the 1,500, while the girls will have the high jump, shot put and 800.

More News



Pos. Name, School100MLJShotHJ400MTotal

1. Will Shaver, Crossett11.43 (767)21-6.75 (713)42-10.5 (672)5-10.75 (627)52.38 (708)3,487

2. Cooper Williams, Fayetteville11.75 (701)21-5.5 (707)32-5.75 (480)6-6.75 (803)51.69 (738)3,429

3. Sloan Jones, Fayetteville11.06 (847)20-10.5 (666)35-10.75 (542)6-0.75 (670)52.87 (687)3,412

4. Brody Emberton, Clinton11.69 (713)20-11.25 (670)39-5.5 (608)6-0.75 (670)53.14 (676)3,337

5. Shamar Easter, Ashdown11.69 (713)20-4 (630)39-8 (612)6-2.75 (714)53.40 (665)3,334

6. Izaiah Owens, Sheridan, 11.11 (836)19-4.25 (565)35-2 (529)5-10.75 (627)51.22 (759)3,316

7. Parker Brown, Heber Springs11.44 (765)20-8 (652)37-6.5 (572)6-0.75 (670)54.27 (628)3,287

8. Kercher Herring, Russellville11.66 (719)20-3 (624)40-0 (618)5-9 (585)52.37 (709)3,255

9. DeAndra Burns Jr., El Dorado10.82 (901)20-10.5 (666)30-4.25 (441)5-1 (426)50.37 (798)3,232

10. Braydon Sanders, Beebe11.44 (765)20-10.5 (666)32-9 (484)5-5 (504)50.86 (775)3,194


Pos., Name, School100HLJDiscus200MTotal

1. Julia Gunnell, Fayetteville15.14 (823)17-7.5 (663)89-10 (413)26.46 (757)2,656

2. Laylah Reese, Cabot14.93 (851)16-3 (546)100-6 (474)26.74 (734)2,605

3. Morgan Maier, Rogers16.92 (606)17-2 (623)99-5 (468)25.53 (839)2,536

4. Emilia Thurston, Bentonville16.54 (649)18-7.25 (750)61-8 (256)25.76 (818)2,473

5. Ava Goetz, Fayetteville15.33 (799)17-1 (617)80-5 (360)27.29 (688)2,464

6. Kenzie Pruett, Cabot15.36 (795)15-9.25 (508)71-2 (308)26.30 (771)2,382

7. Belle Lindsey, De Queen16.18 (692)16-6.75 (573)99-8 (469)27.83 (644)2,378

8. Lauren Lain, Bryant15.74 (746)15-6.25 (487)83-3 (376)26.81 (728)2,337

9. Paisley Hight, Bentonville15.21 (814)16-1 (532)60-8 (251)27.09 (704)2,301

10. Kylie Wright, Bentonville West15.75 (745)16-6.5 (570)56-10 (230)26.59 (746)2,291


Print Headline: Shaver, Gunnell hold 1st-day leads


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