Before his senior track season started, Munford’s Christian Perez had heard of the decathlon but really didn’t know exactly what it was.
Turns out it was his ticket to a college scholarship.
In front of friends, family, teammates and coaches Tuesday afternoon in the Munford High School cafeteria, Perez signed a track scholarship with Lemoyne-Owen College in Memphis.
While there was interest in Perez from colleges before last month’s state track championships, what he did there certainly made him a much more enticing prospect.
Perez won the state decathlon, took fourth in the pole vault and helped his team to a second-place finish. Lemoyne-Owen’s coaches noticed.
“He had some chances to go here or there, but the coach at LeMoyne Owen saw his result at the decathlon,” Munford track coach Thomas Walters said. “He literally won the decathlon, got his medal, drove home, went to graduation, woke up the next morning and had an offer.”
“It wasn’t the first school I was looking at,” Perez said, “but then they offered a full ride. I’d be slow not to take that full ride.”
Walters said colleges recruiting athletes for multiple events is not very common.
“It’s kind of rare for colleges to recruit multi-event athletes. That’s a big deal. You recruit a multi-sport athlete you’re making a statement to your conference. She’s letting them know we’re not playing around. We’re bringing out the big guns.”
Perez has been really good at hurdles, the triple jump and short races. When he learned the pole vault, that was the final piece to the puzzle.
“The big thing with wanting to be a decathlete is you have to pole vault,” Walters said. “Turns out he’s really good at that, too.”
“When I came to school to play sports, I did it for a reason: I wanted to compete on the next level,” Perez said. “Track was my best option to do that.”