It took nearly four years and participation in three sports, but the multi-talented John Cord finally found his niche.
It’s only fitting that his niche crammed nearly every element of sport into two days of competition.
A senior from Atlantic, Iowa, Cord represented Simpson with a sixth-place finish in the decathlon at the 2013 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships last week in La Crosse, Wis., becoming the program’s first All-American in the event since 1989.
Cord used a monster effort in the javelin throw to propel himself into All-American contention, winning the event with a toss of 184-feet, 5 inches. The ninth event of the decathlon, Cord jumped all the way to fourth place after his toss. He ran a 4:46.80 in 1500 meters to close the competition with 6,529 points.
His sixth-place finish is the best by a Simpson individual at the national meet since 1998. Not bad considering it was only Cord’s third time competing in the decathlon.
The result was a fitting end to a successful athletic journey for Cord, a journey that also included stints on the basketball court and the baseball diamond.
It all began in 2009 when the 6-foot, 6-inch tall Cord came to Simpson as a dual-sport athlete, intending to play basketball and compete in track and field.
A pivotal member of the Storm basketball team, Cord averaged 4.9 points and 2.6 rebounds in two seasons. But following his sophomore season, he traded in his sneakers for cleats and decided to give baseball a shot for a year.
Despite his time on the basketball and baseball teams, track and field remained the one constant throughout his career.
Cord made an immediate impact, winning the Iowa Conference outdoor triple jump title as a freshman in 2010. After missing out on the conference championships in 2011 due to a May Term trip to China, he returned to win the javelin throw in 2012.
Following his junior season, Cord decided to focus solely on track and field for his final season. Because he showed promise in a number of different events, he worked throughout the offseason to prepare himself for one of the sport’s most grueling events: the decathlon.
The move paid off.
Cord won a conference championship in the indoor long jump this season and successfully defended his title in the javelin throw, giving him four conference championships in three different events. He competed in the decathlon for the first time in his career at the Kansas Relays in April, battling wind, rain and snow to post Division III’s ninth-best score (at the time) with 6,151 points.
Everything came together for Cord at the North Central Gregory Final Qualifier in Naperville, Ill. on May 15-16.
Needing a significant point increase to even have a shot at making the national meet, Cord came through in the clutch. In just the second decathlon of his career, he improved in 9 of 10 events en-route to scoring 6,494 points. He finished first in the 19-person field and posted the fourth-best score in the nation, assuring a chance to compete for a national title.
Cord’s success in the decathlon resurrects Simpson’s strong history in the event, which included six All-American performances from 1986-89. In fact, the greatest Division III decathlete of all-time, Kip Janvrin, won national championships for Simpson in 1986, 87 and 88. Janvrin’s 7,528-point performance in 1987 is still the highest ever-recorded in Division III since the scoring format changed in 1985.