The PTFCA only allows individual athletes to compete in four events at the indoor state meet in late February.
But when you watch Kyle Garland, it makes you wish the powers that be would make an amendment to the rule. Not only is the Germantown Academy senior capable of qualifying for states in more than the maximum four events, but he would be in contention to win more than four.
The reigning indoor national pentathlon champion made his indoor season debut on Saturday at the Ursinus College High School Open in Collegeville. He did so winning three events -- something you could maybe expect from a one of the class of 2017's top recruits.
But what Garland did was win three very different events.
He started his day off winning the 55-meter hurdles in 7.35, an early season U.S. No. 1 time. He came back to win the 400 meters in 50.76, an indoor personal best and PA No. 1. He closed out his afternoon in the shot put circle, launching a throw that went over 52 feet for yet another PA No. 1. That's three state-leading performances for those keeping score at home.
All in a day's work for an athlete like Garland.
Garland's Day At The Ursinus College High School Open
Garland is, of course, a multi-event specialist. He's signed to the University of Georgia, a hotbed for multi-event greatness. Bulldogs coach Petros Kyprianou has helped produce some of the country's top multi-event athletes like Devon Williams, Karl Saluri, and Kendell Williams.
Garland says he uses meets like Saturday's to help prepare him for those meets where he'll compete in the multis.
"I'm looking to have a really good season in these multis, being able to run a fast race, come down, and being able to run another race at a high pace," said Garland, who performed somewhat of a simulation of the pentathlon with the hurdles, 400 meters, and the shot throughout a long day.
In addition to those three events he contested at Ursinus, Garland also high jumps over seven feet and long jumps over 23 feet. He scored 4,150 points to dominate the pentathlon at New Balance Nationals Indoor last winter. He scored 7,035 in the decathlon at USATF Juniors, where he placed second behind collegian George Patrick. That qualified him for the Pan-American Games in Peru.
Making that USA junior squad was a major accomplishment for Garland this past summer, but he has his sights set even higher this winter.
"My goal is to qualify for the World Indoor Trials in Albuquerque, New Mexico," he said of the event that takes place February 16-18. "Hopefully I can make that team being the youngest mutli-eventer to ever make the senior team."
The IAAF World Indoor Championships are March 1-4 in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
Garland's early-season marks were more reminiscent of an athlete in peak form, rather than one just getting started with his season. He credits a change in his training approach leading up to Saturday's opener.
"These past couple of years I've really just been working on certain disciplines in the multis, so this year I was able to focus my head more on speed work," he said. "I felt significantly faster than I was the past couple of years.
"I'm really looking to drop some fast times -- top in the country," he added.
While the speed looked to be in a great spot on Saturday with a 55-meter hurdles PR and an indoor best in the 400 meters, Garland's efforts in the shot put were perhaps his most impressive of the afternoon. His best of 52-8.25 (with another throw out over 50 feet) was topped by only six returners from the event in Pennsylvania last season.
"I was looking to minimally hit my indoor PR last year, which was 49-6," he said. "But being able to throw a 50-7 on that first throw, I knew I was going to be strong again in this. My body all day was feeling really good -- I didn't feel too tired. On my last attempt was able to get off my best throw, 52-8."
When the indoor state meet rolls around in two and a half months, Garland will have some decisions to make as far as which events he'll chase state titles in. But if Saturday proved anything, it's that he is in a league of his own.
If Saturday was a starting point for his senior year, imagine where he'll be come March. Or even this coming summer.
The only question left is which event will he star in next?
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