When it comes to discussing multi-event disciplines in track and field, the words “decathlete” and “Bahamas” rarely end up in the same sentence.
Ken Mullings hopes to change all that. The sophomore from the University of the Bahamas wants to be the best from his nation to compete on an elite level, and he took a small step on that road Wednesday by winning the Penn Relays decathlon at Franklin Field.
Competing in misty, drizzly conditions for much of the day, he posted a score of 6,930 points that left him a bit disappointed. Still, it was a personal best and enough for victory over the Mount St. Mary’s duo of senior Christopher Gabor (second at 6,503 points) and Darryl Workcuff (third at 6,454).
“I was happy with some of my events,” he said. “I came in with a goal and I didn’t really meet my goal but I still came up with some [personal bests] so I can’t be mad about that.”
The women’s heptathlon was won by senior Tyanna Petty of the University of Rio Grande in Ohio with 4,686 points.
Mullings, who was honored with a day at his university in February for breaking the Bahamas national indoor record in the heptathlon, surged into the lead with a high jump of 6 feet, 6 ¼ inches in Tuesday’s fourth event.
He extended his lead after Wednesday’s first event, the 110-meter hurdles, when he clocked 15.04 seconds, the best mark in the field, and added 200 points to his margin over Workcuff, who struggled in the race. The advantage was too much to overcome.
“It’s really a good accomplishment for me, especially since it is my first decathlon at Penn and for the year, so I was really happy I came here and performed and got the win,” Mullings said.
Mullings said his goal for the season is 7,500 points, which would break the national record of 7,421 set in 1989. He said it’s been “at least a couple of decades” since his nation had a standout in the decathlon, and he hopes to be the next one.
“My goal is to be the decathlete for the Bahamas on the world stage, at the world championships, world indoors and the Olympics,” he said.
Petty, who held a 174-point lead after the first day, posted the best marks in the long jump (17-1 ¼) and in the 800 meters (2 minutes, 27.90 seconds) to outdistance the field. Emily Hagarty of Adelphi was second with 4,373 points and Taylor Wiederrecht of Messiah took third with 4,121.