Heber Springs senior Ethan Bly amassed 3,579 points to build a 57-point lead through five events at the 50th annual state decathlon Wednesday at Fayetteville High School.
Another stellar performance on Thursday would make Bly the first state champion from Heber Springs since Brent Patchell took the crown in the early 90's.
Bly, who won the 100, 200 and 400 while racking up high point honors with 40.5 points at the 4A state outdoor meet, showed a rare combination of power and speed at the decathlon by posting the best mark in the shot put with a heave of 46' 7 ¾”.
Out of 72 competitors, Bly had the second best time in the 100 (11.18), behind only Chase Lamers of Rogers (11.01). Bly also recorded the second best time in the 400 with a time of 50.41 ¬ behind only Springdale Har-Ber's Sain-Thomas Mathew, who set a decathlon record (49.26).
Bly, who signed to run track and field with UCA two weeks ago, tied Heber classmate Clint Ligon for fifth best in the long jump (20' 5”). Bly also cleared 5' 9” in the high jump for 585 points.
Ligon, a longtime teammate and good friend of Bly, will continue his career at ASU. Ligon placed third in last year's decathlon and sits in fourth place with 3,461 points heading into Thursday's events, including the discus, triple jump, 1500, 110 hurdles and pole vault.
Ligon posted a time of 11.50 in the 100, tied Bly in the Long Jump (20' 5”) and finished third in the 400 (50.51) behind Bly and in front of junior teammate Brock Ballard (4th, 50.71). Ligon cleared 6' ¾” in the high jump and threw the shot put 39' 8 ½”.
Ballard, a distance specialist who entered Thursday's portion of the decathlon in 34th place, finished the 100 with a time of 11.88. Ballard posted a mark of 16' 7” in the long jump and 5' 1 ¾” in the high jump. The junior heaved the shot put 29' ¾” and finished fourth in the 400 (50.71).
Due to Thursday's morning deadline, the final results will not be available in The Sun-Times until next Wednesday. Check our website at www.thesuntimes.com for updated information on this developing story.