NAMPA Boise State heptathlete Roderick Townsend looks like a defensive end.
In fact, he was one.
Towsend was an all-conference end at Lincoln High and played football for one year at San Joaquin Delta College, both in Stockton, Calif.
After his freshman season, the track coach suggested he give the decathlon a try.
That was the end of his football career and the beginning of a promising track career.
Townsend posted a personal-best 2,915 points Thursday in the first day of the heptathlon at the Mountain West Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Jacksons Track. Hes in second place going into Fridays final three events.
Its a real big change, but I like it a lot, Townsend said of the shift from football to track. I couldnt be at a better place right now thats how I feel. I have so much room to grow in all the events.
Townsend is in his third season of track and field. He started playing football in fifth grade and chose junior college over opportunities to play at Football Championship Subdivision schools like Cal Poly and Montana State, he said, hoping to draw better offers.
All that changed when Delta track coach Lauryn Jordan presented him with another idea: the 10-event decathlon (the seven-event heptathlon is the indoor version).
Townsend scanned the list of events and figured he could succeed until he saw the pole vault and 1,500 meters.
I said, I cant do it, he said.
Jordan convinced him to give it a try for one meet, and he was the first-day leader. He didnt win the pole vault and 1,500 were on the second day but he was intrigued.
She broke me out of my shell a lot, and I realized I could do some things that I didnt know I could, Townsend said.
He set a school record in the high jump (7 feet) and won the conference championship in that event as a sophomore last season. That attracted the attention of Boise State, which signed him last summer without having seen him compete in person or bringing him to campus for a visit. Jordan, however, was on Boise State coach J.W. Hardys staff at Northern Arizona providing a key endorsement.
Townsend works out alongside 2012 NCAA decathlon champion and former Bronco Kurt Felix, another junior college transfer who arrived at Boise State with raw skills in many events. Townsend considers Felix a mentor.
Jeff Petersmeyer, the Boise State assistant coach who works with multi-event participants, said he looks for athletes who are strong in a couple of events and possess the intangibles required to excel in 10.
The biggest thing is the dedication and work ethic and being coachable, Petersmeyer said. Because Im out there with them a long time every day, they have to be patient and know theyre going to get better.
The first task for Townsend was to reshape that football body.
Hes 6-foot-6 3 inches taller than the average decathlete and he arrived in Boise weighing 236 pounds. Petersmeyer wrote down his first goal for Townsend: 20-
In other words, any weight of less than 210 pounds.
Townsend is close, at 217, which helped him set a personal best in the 60 meters Thursday. He also performed well in the high jump and will try to earn some team points for the Broncos in the open high jump and triple jump later this week.
This was great, Petersmeyer said. I was hoping top three. Well see how (Friday) plays out. If he can stay in the two spot, wed be tickled.
Townsend still is learning the pole vault and the throwing events. He is hindered a bit in the throwing events because his right biceps is tighter than normal an issue that stems from his unusual arrival as a baby. Doctors broke his collarbone and dislocated his shoulder to deliver him at nearly 11 pounds.
He throws lefthanded, but the right arm still plays a role.
I dont think about it, Townsend said. Coaches have helped me get over it.
Townsend is a sophomore in indoor track and field and a junior outdoors. He likely will redshirt an outdoor season, allowing him to compete for the Broncos through 2015.
Hes pursuing a double major in communications and health information management.
He will be a really solid decathlete for us, Petersmeyer said. Hes a great teammate to have around. Hes just a great guy for Boise State.
NOTES: Junior Allison Reaser of San Diego State won her third straight Mountain West title in the pentathlon Thursday. She beat freshman teammate Nicole Oudenaarden by two points by virtue of a 5.29-second advantage in the final event, the 800 meters. On Friday, the heptathlon begins at 11 a.m., field events begin at 1 p.m., running events begin at 3:30 p.m. and competition ends at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $8.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat