CHATHAM, NJ - It's gotten to the point where the Chatham track and field coaches are looking at what Kristian Roos has been able to do during the cold first month of the spring season and are thinking the decathlon is in his future.
"Coach (Nick) DeSantis and I, and coach (Jason) Mariano look at him and say that eventually, this kid could become a decathlete in college," Chatham track coach Patrick Barry said. "He's already our best long jumper, best javelin thrower, our best hurdler and, along with Aedan Joel, he's tied for being the best 100-meter dash guy.
"We're going to try and teach him the pole vault, just for his own sake if he ever wants to pursue the decathlon. The running stuff, he can do without any problem."
The decathlon, which is not run in high school, consists of 10 events competed over a two-day period: the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter dash, 110 high hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500-meter run.
"He's fast, he's flexible and he's athletic," Barry said. "He's very good at a lot of things. It's not championship level yet, but give him a month to work on some things and give him some warm weather."
In his first outdoor track season, the sky appears to be the limit for the 16-year-old junior.
In the Dodgertown Relays last Saturday and in a dual meet on Tuesday, Roos set personal marks of 15.3 in the 110 high hurdles; threw the javelin 151 feet, 8 inches; leaped 19 feet, 10 inches in the long jump and ran 11.5 in the 100-meter dash.
Kristian Roos is the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week.
So far, Roos has surprised the coaches and himself with how well he's performed, especially since this is his very first outdoor track & field season and he only has experience in the hurdles. Last spring, he was a member of the Chatham High varsity baseball team as a backup outfielder.
Coach Barry can thank Roos's mother, Sandra, for pushing her son onto the track. As a freshman, he only lifted weights during the winter, but as a sophomore, he tried winter track at the behest of his mother.
"I'm very open-minded to everything," Roos said, "but I didn't think I'd be good at the hurdles. My mom, she's like, I think you'd be really good at hurdling, you should really do hurdling. That's one of the reasons I did winter track and I tried it and I was good at it and I was like, 'Thanks, Mom'."
When Roos placed sixth at the state sectionals in the hurdles indoors, it convinced him to make the switch from baseball to track in the spring. Since then, he's been a natural at almost everything he's tried.
"He can run, he can jump, he can throw," Chatham pole vaulter Julian de Keyzer said. "I see him doing sprints and he looks so good, he has perfect form. You can throw him anywhere, he's like the perfect athlete."
In his very first try at the javelin on April 5, Roos threw 109 feet, he followed that with a 144-1 at the Dodgertown Relays nine days later and then he hit 151-8 on Tuesday. In his very first try at the long jump, he reached 19-2. Roos also threw the shot over the winter and in the early part of the spring, but he's made the switch to the javelin with great results.
"We knew he had the strength and was athletic, the javelin was the logical thing to try," Barry said. "He's come to really love it."
The 5-9, 170-pounder has yet to run a 200-meter dash and he's curious to see how he'd do since he'd be able to take advantage of his pure speed in the longer sprint. Right now, his starts in the 100 are not what he wants them to be.
"My acceleration is not that good," he said. "My top speed is a lot better than my acceleration. I have to work on that for football, too."
Roos is also a versatile performer on the football field, where he made the transition from soccer as a sophomore. Last fall, he was the punter and placekicker for the Cougars and also played defensive back, wide receiver and running back.
"I knew I was fast from football, so I tried a lot of the things in track you need speed for," Roos said. "I just tried them and enjoyed them. So I watched youtube videos on them. I did them and they worked out and I continued with it.
"Coach Mariano and a lot of the upperclassmen helped me get the basics down in the javelin. We don't really have a long jump coach, so the kids who have jumped in previous years have helped me out. Also, I watched youtube videos."
His No. 1 goal right now is to set a Chatham school record in an event and he's the closest in hurdles. During the week, he breaks up his workouts between the hurdles and sprints on the track and the field events of long jump and javelin.
"Haas Field is practically in my backyard, so I go down there to do some extra work," Roos said. "I really want to break a school record."
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