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Chasing a dream


Tigard graduate Chase Dalton takes aim at a national decathlon title and an Olympic bid

by: BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY - MULTI-TALENTED -- Tigard grad Chase Dalton is competing in the decathlon at this week's NCAA national championships.For Chase Dalton, the path has been full of twists and turns and even a detour or two.

It’s a path that has definitely had some ups and downs.

It’s a path that, this week, has brought him back to the state of Oregon.

And, in the end, Dalton is hoping that path will — one day — take him all the way to the Olympic Games.

It’s easy to hear the emotion in his voice when Dalton, a 2007 Tigard High School graduate, talks about his dreams.

“For everyone that loves this sport as much as I do, you want to call yourself an Olympian,” Dalton said by phone from Provo, Utah, Sunday evening as he was preparing to depart for Eugene the next day.

The sport that Dalton, 25, is talking about is track and field.

And, at the collegiate level, Dalton is one of the best in the country at the sport he loves.

This week, he has a chance to show that he just may be the very best.

Dalton, a Brigham Young University senior, is competing in the decathlon event this week at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which started Wednesday and runs through Saturday at Hayward Field.

“I’m excited about it,” Dalton said of the national championships.

It will be Dalton’s first time competing at Hayward Field since May of 2007, when he was a Tigard senior participating in the Class 6A high school state track and field championships.

That year, Dalton finished second in the javelin, third in the 110-meter high hurdles and fourth in the 300 intermediate hurdles — and, seemingly, decathlete was born.

And that decathlete is striving to be the country’s best at this week’s national championships.

The first five events of the grueling decathlon competition — the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 — were held on Wednesday (results weren’t available when The Times went to press).

The decathlon will conclude today (Thursday) with the 110 high hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500.

Dalton sounded extremely focused when talking about this week’s decathlon, where he entered the competition as the No. 8 seed.

And, while he said the fact that the championships are being held in Eugene isn’t really a factor, it’s still good to be close to home.

“It’s sort of the cherry on top,” he said. “My family can be there to watch me compete, and that’s nice.”

And, with what Dalton has been through to get back to Eugene, he likely will be ready for anything.

After Tigard

It didn’t take long for Dalton to make a splash after graduating from Tigard High School.by: BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY - GOING UP -- Chase Dalton's track and field career seems to be on the upswing.

In 2008, he won the decathlon event at the junior national championships while also placing third in the javelin at that meet.

With his decathlon crown, Dalton went on to compete at the junior world championships held in Bydgoszcz, Poland, placing 11th in the decathlon at that international event.

He also shined as a BYU freshman, placing second in the decathlon and third in the javelin at the Mountain West Conference championships.

But, following that phenomenal freshman season, Dalton’s career path was going to take an expected detour.

Man on a mission

After his freshman season, Dalton went on his two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Leaving in November of 2008, his mission took him to Tucson, Ariz., where he spent a lot of time on an American Indian reservation.

“It was incredible,” Dalton said of his mission, which ended in November of 2010. “It was an experience that changed my life. It increased by commitment to God and my church. It taught me to be a man.”

While the mission certainly seemed to be worthwhile, Dalton wasn’t able to continue with his intense training.

“I had time to exercise,” he said. “But not to seriously train.”

And then there were the injuries.

While on the mission, he broke his right hand while helping someone move. He also tore the labrum in his right shoulder while playing in a pick-up football game.

“I don’t regret the mission at all — I’d just play less football,” Dalton said with a laugh.

Under the knife

The first MRI done on Dalton’s shoulder following the injury came back negative.

“But I still had pain,” Dalton said.

He had another MRI performed on his shoulder after returning from his mission, and this one came back positive.

The BYU trainer then took Dalton to see the surgeon who was contracted by the university.

“He was a great surgeon, but he didn’t have a very good bedside manner,” Dalton said. “He said ‘let’s see if this guy is worth keeping.’”

That statement hit Dalton hard.

“I called my dad (Len Dalton) that night and started crying,” Chase Dalton said. “I was wondering if this was it for me. I hadn’t competed for three years, and success was just a memory.”

But, as it turned out, father knew best.

“My dad comforted me,” Dalton said. “He told me people have come back from worse injuries.”

Dalton did have surgery on his injured shoulder in January of 2011 and ended up redshirting that year.

by: BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY - SPINNING -- Chase Dalton, a 2007 Tigard High School graduate and a senior on the Brigham Young University men's track and field team, will compete in the discus, as well as four other events, today during the decathlon competition at the NCAA National Championships.

Coming back

Dalton was back in action for the Cougars in the fall of 2011 for his sophomore year. But the recovery wasn’t exactly going at a fast pace.

“My shoulder still bothered me,” Dalton said. “I could still throw the javelin 198 feet, but I threw 210 in high school and 218 my freshman year. I had to chisel off the rough edges.”

With that in mind Dalton went to work.

He did find some success as BYU sophomore, placing second in the decathlon at the Aztec Track & Field Invitational with a score of 6,846 point and winning the decathlon at the Robinson Invitational with a total of 7,186.

As a junior, Dalton placed fourth at the IC4E/ECAC DI Outdoor Track & Field Championships in the decathlon with a score of 7,172 and he placed first in the decathlon at the Sacramento State Mondo Mid-Major Challenge with a total of 7,215.

While Dalton wasn’t exactly where he wanted to be, he did see some progression.

“I think my mind was further ahead than my body,” he said. “But I kept chiseling away.”

A super senior

Going into his senior year at BYU, Dalton was ready to give it everything he could.

“At one time, I was the best our country had,” Dalton said, referring to his junior national championship. “I know I can do that again. I rode on that. I said ‘this is it, I have to do it this year.’”

He started training for his senior year back in July, running the risk of burning out, or peaking too soon.

“I thought it was worth the risk,” Dalton said.

And it sure seems that the risk has paid off.

Back in March, Dalton triumphed in the decathlon at the prestigious Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays with a score of 7,642, which, at the time, was the season’s highest score in the nation and the fifth-highest score in BYU history.

“And I wasn’t fresh at all when I did it,” Dalton said.

That has him extremely optimistic for this week’s national championships.

“Right now, I’m peaking at the right time,” he said. “It’s been hard work and I’ve had just an amazing opportunity. I can’t give enough credit to our coaches. At this level, it has less to do with talent and more to do with passion and the love for the sport.”

And it would likely be hard for anyone to top Dalton when it comes to that.

After college

Dalton’s collegiate career will come to a close at this week’s national championships, but he’s looking for his track and field career to go on and on.

He’s hoping to compete at the USA Championships, which will be held later this month in Sacramento.

But Dalton is a bit hesitant to call that his first professional meet.

“I’m looking at it as my first post-collegiate meet,” he said.

Dalton surpassed the B qualifying standard for the USA Championships with his score from the Texas Relays. The A standard, and automatic qualification for the meet is a score of 7,800, which Dalton is hoping to reach at this week’s NCAA championships.

“I want to get that in this event,” Dalton said. “I already bought my ticket for Sacramento.

Dalton is hoping that optimism, as well as his performances, will get the attention of track and field sponsors.

“I want to show sponsors that I’m worth taking a chance on,” he said. “Getting sponsorships is everyone’s goal, but, sometimes you have to do it yourself.”

Even if that’s the case, Dalton still has high sights set on the 2016 Olympic Games, which will be held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil.

“The Olympics are becoming more realistic to others and myself,” Dalton said.

In addition to that, Dalton has other reasons to be happy, as he recently got engaged to be married.

“It’s a great time of life,” he said. “I’m young and about to start a family. I’m going to figure it all out soon.”

It sounds like he just may be on the path to success.