One of the most grueling events in the world of all sports is the decathlon.
A two-day event that tests athletes strength, speed, and endurance. Very few local or area athletes have participated.
Rhett Nelson, 16, a Trinity Christian sophomore, will be competing in the decathlon today and Thursday at Cabot, Ark., (about 30 miles northeast of Little Rock).
Nelson, 5-11, 165, has recently been best known for his pole vaulting, setting several school and meet records this season.
He has progressed rapidly from 13-9 feet as a 14-year-old, 15-4, at age 15, and his current best is 16-6.
About 70-80 high school athletes, 10th through 12 grade, will be competing.
On the first day of the decathlon, it starts with a 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, and finishes with a 400-meter run.
Day 2 includes the 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, triple jump, and ends with a 1500-meter run.
Points are awarded on how well a competitor does in each event, and the winner is determined by the highest point total.
"I'm really excited about finally being able to do this," said Rhett. "I wasn't able to do it because it is only fo 10th graders through 12th."
"Of course, I should rack up a lot of points in the pole vault," Rhett added. "My weakest events will be the shot and discus."
Even during his middle-school years, Nelson displayed his versatility in several areas in 7th and 8th grade district meets.
This was when he started thinking seriously about doing a decathlon.
Besides Rhett, sisters Hannah and Halah were also pole vaulters and ran track.
Where does all this athletic ability come from?
Undoubtedly from their father Russ Nelson.
Russ, 49, was an outstanding runner at Arkansas High, competing in the 1-mile and 2-mile races. He had a time of 4:35 in the mile, and still holds the school record in the 2-mile with a 9:54, set in 1987. "Some have come pretty close," said Nelson.
After his high school years, Nelson was a consistent winner in 5K (3.1-mile) races, and has turned in very good times in the local Run the Line half-marathon.
"Rhett has always had natural ability, but has really gotten serious this past year," said Russ. "He is one of the hardest working athletes you'll find. I think he'll do well in the decathlon, and I seen him clearing 17 feet in the pole vault fairly soon."