Multi-faceted Day finds success in heptathlon

Back in high school when Sharon Day was building herself as the greatest athlete to come out of Costa Mesa High, she competed in volleyball, soccer and track and field.

In the spring, she excelled in track and field. At most meets, she racked up several points competing in four events. She wanted to do more.

"You were only allowed to do four events," Day said. "I had to pick and choose."

Day is taking on much more these days in her quest to medal at the London Olympics. She's aiming to qualify for the London Games at the U.S. Olympic Trials. She competes in the heptathlon Friday and Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

"I'm feeling really good about it," Day said of qualifying for the Olympics. "My training has been phenomenal. I'm not necessarily trying to peak, but I just want to have a solid meet, get solid marks, make the team and turn my attention toward peaking in London. I feel really good about my chances. I'm the only American to have an 'A' standard. It's really less stressful."

Day, who qualified for the 2008 Olympics in the high jump, earned the 'A' standard at the Sam Adams Multi-Events meet at Westmont College in Santa Barbara in April.

She set a personal record of 6,337 points to win the heptathlon, compiling points from competing in the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shotput, 200 meters, long jump, javelin and 800 meters. She showed she found her niche as a heptathlete.

Eugene Day knew that could be the case back when his daughter competed for Costa Mesa.

"I knew sophomore year in high school," said Eugene, who coached his daughter in track and field. "Sharon is the kind of person that loves a challenge and at the same time doing track she wants to do multiple events. She gets better with doing more events."

Sharon Day finished 12th in high jump qualifying at the Beijing Games, and later turned her focus on the heptathlon. She admits she's now a different athlete, mentally and physically. Much has happened in the past four years.

She just turned 27 on June 9. After finishing up at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2008, she signed with Asics. A year later, Oakley came with a sponsorship for her.

Sharon Day found love too.

This past winter, she became engaged to Dan Monroe, who also attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and is a girls' basketball coach at San Luis Obispo High. They've been together for three years and plan to marry next year.

Sharon is a different person, an improved athlete, from four years ago when she seemed content with just qualifying for the Olympics.

"I definitely have a lot more experience on my side," she said during a phone interview last week before leaving for the U.S. Olympic Trials. "I have a new view. Back then coming out of college, I was just different. It's a whole different ballgame now making a different team. But having that experience from the last Olympic Trials and Olympic Games, I am ready for these Olympics."

While it may seem everything has fallen into place for Sharon because of her elite athleticism that hasn't necessarily been the case. She struggled with the shotput.

"It was my nemesis," she said.

She could barely reach a mark of 35 feet. But toward the end of 2010, she improved over 10 feet.

Her coach, Jack Hoyt, knew she would improve because of her power and her patience, he said.

"She's really athletic," Hoyt said of why Sharon has found success in the heptathlon. "She can learn any sport. She is really competitive. Whenever she learns something she wants to beat everybody.

"She is patient to learn these things. It gets frustrating. But she stays patient."

Hoyt said he usually looks for athletes he can convert into multi-event competitors. He sensed Sharon could become great in the heptathlon.

She's considered young as a heptathlete. Greater things can come in the 2016 Olympics, he said.

However, Sharon wants to be ahead of schedule this summer.

Twitter: @SteveVirgen

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