Alumnus named Male Athlete of the Year

Kevin Lucena

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Former Chico State decathlete J Patrick Smith, left, stands with training partners John Brunk, middle, and Theodore Elsenbaumer, right. Photo credit: Grant Mahan

J Patrick Smith is going to need a bigger trophy room.

After finishing a career that included being a two-time California Collegiate Athletic Association Field Athlete of the Year, a three-time NCAA Decathlon Champion and a four-time All-American, Smith has added one more accolade: The Chico State Male Athlete of the Year.

The former Wildcat decathlete and Chico Sportsperson of the Year was nominated for the award by Chico State men’s track and field coach Oliver Hanf, along with nominations from other sports. Smith won a vote from the coaches and athletic department staff.

“He obviously came in with a lot of talent, but his hard work and dedication since he’s been here have really shown through in his performances,” said Anita Barker, Chico State’s athletic director. “He fully deserves the recognition he has received both locally and nationally and has represented our university terrifically.”

The Santa Barbara native broke his own school record May 30 at the Division II Track and Field Championship this year with 7,645 points to become Chico State’s first three-time champion. Smith also captured his fourth career All-American honor, as well as the West Region Field Athlete of the Year honors by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for the second straight year.

“He’s one of the greatest athletes to ever compete at Chico State,” Hanf said. “His dedication and selflessness were great examples for our other athletes.”

Fellow decathlete John Brunk spent quite some time training with Smith, and had plenty to say about his former teammate.

“I spent five years training and competing with JP,” Brunk said. “The competition was great between us and Teddy, and it drove us all to be even better.”

Brunk, Smith and the rest of the decathlon team were awarded the Webb Cup by the Decathlon Association in June. The Webb Cup was established in 2013 to signify U.S. collegiate decathlon success. Smith, who finished first, was joined on the podium by fellow Wildcat Teddy Elsenbaumer, who finished second, while Brunk finished in fourth.

“We all felt we could beat one another on any given day, so you always had to be at your best,” Elsenbaumer said. “JP showed me how much dedication pays off on the track and taking care of your body off of it.”

Smith traded in his Chico State uniform for a red, white and blue one as he now trains and competes with the USA Track & Field team. In July he competed in the Thorpe Cup, an international track and field competition between the U.S. and Germany, finishing 12th individually.

JP Smith Career Accolades at Chico State:

  • 2014 Chico State Male Athlete of the Year
  • 2014 Chico Sportsperson of the Year
  • 2 Time CCAA Male Athlete of the Year
  • 3 Time NCAA Decathlon Champion
  • 2 Time CCAA Field Athlete of the Year
  • 2 Time USA Track & Field West Region Field Champion
  • 4 Time All-American

Kevin Lucena can be reached at [email protected] or @klucena824 on Twitter.

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