2017 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships: USC freshman Daniel Norwitz opens collegiate decathlon career scoring
When Daniel Norwitz joined the USC track & field team, he knew he was going to be a decathlete — he just didn’t know how soon. The freshman specializes in high jump, but expressed interest in the decathlon to multis coach Sheldon Blockburger before starting school at USC. Blockburger had plans of training up Norwitz in the decathlon, but when he got a “hunch” that Norwitz might score at the Pac-12 championships, he figured now was as good of time as any to jump in with both feet.
Norwitz found out he would be competing in his first collegiate decathlon just days before competition: “Coach Block texted me [to come] into his office and said, 'You’re coming if you want to.” I said, “Alright.'"
“He had no idea,” says Blockburger.
The top eight student-athletes score points for their teams at the Pac-12 Track & Field Championships, so Blockburger decided that one point was better than no points and entered Norwitz on the off chance he was the eighth competitor.
Blockburger told Norwitz: “If there’s eight people, you’ll go, and if there’s nine, you won’t. Eight was his lucky number.”
Originally from a small high school in Seattle, Washington, Norwitz says the only other “big” meet he competed in was his high school state meet. Despite his little experience in competing on a big stage, Norwitz tried to not let his nerves get to him.
“It was finals week. I didn’t think it was going to happen. It was just one of those you-might-be-able -to things and then Friday morning when I actually took off I was like, 'Oh no.'"
Most decathletes spend years mastering the ten events, but Blockburger and Norwitz weren’t afforded that kind of time. With just a couple days to prep before competition, Blockburger squeezed in as much technical training as he could.
“We did seven minutes of discus, eight minutes of hurdles, and threw the shot for probably fifteen minutes,” laugh Blockburger and Norwitz.
Norwitz ended up finishing eighth for the Trojans with 5,656 points to score a point for USC in the overall team competition. Now that he has a full decathlon under his belt, one that earned his team a point in the Pac-12 Championships no less, both Norwitz and Blockburger are excited for his future in the sport.
“Next year when we come back he’ll be much more prepared. He should be able to…get higher than eighth next year.”