All season long, University of Colorado sophomore heptathlete and decathlete Andrew Ghizzone has been a top performer for the Buffaloes. And even though he struggled in some events early in his career, he's starting to step into a role of leadership as one of the track and field team's most consistent performers.
During this year's indoor season, Ghizzone made a big impact for the Buffaloes' overall scoring. At the Air Force Alumni Classic, he finished second overall in the heptathlon. A month later, he finished sixth overall at the Air Force Invitational.
After starring on his high school track team in Union, N.J., Ghizzone, 19, said he had to make a big adjustment last year to meet the competitive standards of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
"I was always toward the top in high school," Ghizzone said. "I would always place first, second, third. When I got to college, it really humbled me, especially in the decathlon, because you rarely win your events because there are just so many good guys that specialize in different events. I'll win one out of 10 events and I have to take that as a good day."
As a freshman last year, Ghizzone became the sixth-best performer in Colorado heptathlon history by amassing 5,020 points with a ninth-place finish at the MPSF Championships, which was also the 11th best points score by a Buffalo.
In the outdoor decathlon competition, he finished with a personal best 6,670 points at the Pac-12 Championships, finishing 11th, and set the CU decathlon record for 1,500 meters.
As you might expect, training for seven or 10 events can be delicate and demanding work for the athletes as well as heptathlon/decathlon coach Lindsey Malone. The heptathlon, an indoor competition, is a mash-up of 60-meter sprint, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60-meter hurdles, pole vault and 1,000-meter run.
"I have to make sure I'm using all of their energy systems wisely, because one of the challenging things about having a multiple-event athlete is they have to be fast and explosive and they still have to do endurance events at the end of it," Malone said.
"But we have to get in so many jumps per week, so many hurdles per week, and all of that is taxing on different parts of their body, including their bones and their muscles," she added. "So it's a really big balancing effort, and you have to be really in tune with the students you're working with, so it's a daily check-in."
Malone said that to get the proper workouts in each week, she'll trade off doing running events with her athletes one day and throwing events on another, staying careful to make sure they don't get overworked.
In Ghizzone's outdoor competition, the decathlon, he'll combine 10 events over two days: 100-meter sprint, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter run, 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500-meter run.
Because Ghizzone is fairly lean, he said he struggles with throwing events like the shot put.
"I'm not really a thrower," he said. "I'm more of a runner, jumper, so shot put and the throwing events are sort of my weakness."
Ghizzone is becoming comfortable with his role as one of the top performers for his team, both on and off the track.
"He's already a team leader. He comes in and kills the workouts, every single workout we do," Malone said. "I think at this point I can say I expect a lot of him because he expects a lot of himself. He's already proven to me that I can put that expectation on him because he's just a warrior. It's fun at this point."
Now, he'll turn his focus to the decathlon events. The Buffs begin their outdoor season Friday and Saturday when they host the Jerry Quiller Classic at Potts Field.
For Ghizzone, all that matters is what he can do to make his team better.
"That's the reason I'm here. I want to score high for the team and it's nice to get PRs and do well for myself, but I really care more about helping out the team and seeing Colorado at the top of the Pac-12," Ghizzone said.
Alissa Noe: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you go
What: Jerry Quiller Classic track and field meet.
When: 3 p.m. Friday (last event at 4:30 p.m.), 11 a.m. Saturday (last event at 3:10 p.m.).
Where: Potts Field, Boulder.
More info: Complete schedule at cubuffs.com.