Richard York, it seems, has always been busy.
There were soccer matches and baseball games. There were footballs to tote and basketballs to heave. He was a kid who never stood still.
If there was a pickup game of any kind down the street, he was in it.
So it comes as no surprise that York, now a young man, has become a decathlete for the University of New Mexico. He scurries from one event to another – running, jumping, throwing and flying.
Of all the track and field events, the pole vault was his first love.
“I did pole vaulting as a hobby, something to pass the time between sports,” York says.
That was back in junior high in Jackson City, Mo. A club coach took a look at him and decided young York would be good at a number of events. So he threw him into the pentathlon.
York’s first pentathlon came at an AAU national meet. He finished 33rd out of 35 competitors.
“I was upset,” York says.
But he could be upset only so long. He had a baseball tournament to get to.
When he reached high school, he decided to limit himself to football, basketball and track.
But, true to form, even in football he couldn’t play just one position. He was a running back, defensive back, kicker and punter.
“I liked the contact nature of football,” York says. “It was fun for me.”
It also served as a counter to the solitary disposition of track.
But even though he was all-conference in football, he began to dominate in track and field.
His senior year in 2009, he traveled to Albuquerque to compete in the decathlon of the Great Southwest Classic. He finished second to national record holder Curtis Beach of Albuquerque Academy.
So when UNM called, York was receptive.
“I enjoyed coming out here and training and competing,” York says. “And the aspect of high-altitude training was compatible for the kind of training I needed.”
As a Lobo, York has won two Mountain West outdoor decathlon titles and an MWC indoor heptathlon crown. The senior hopes to cap his UNM career with another first-place decathlon finish.
Training for 10 events takes planning.
“We try to find a correlation between events,” York says. “If you look at the long jump, we’ll correlate it with the pole vault. The throws correlate in different ways. You don’t have to train in every single thing every week.”
York’s outdoor season got off to a good start with a win in the javelin (which has become his favorite event) two weeks ago at the Texas Tech Open and a third in the javelin at the Jim Click Shootout in Tucson. This week he competes in the decathlon at the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays.
“The ultimate goal is to help the Lobos win a conference championship,” York says.
York graduated in December with a major in human health behavior and a minor in history. He’s interested in emergency medical training.
“It’s a mixture of wanting to help people and the excitement of the job,” says York, who has a few firefighters in his family. “I don’t want to end up in a job that’s cut and dried, where you do the same thing every day. I want variety in my work and be able to help people.”
NOTE: The Don Kirby Tailwind Open, UNM’s only home outdoor meet of the season, will be May 2 at the Great Friends of UNM Stadium. It was originally scheduled for May 3.