Portland State's Nick Trubachik completed his first decathlon with some buddies the summer after his senior year at Estacada High, and Trubachik was hooked.
Of course, he had some natural ability.
Trubachik already had thrown the javelin nearly 193 feet to win the Class 4A state title.
With no formal pole vault training and only a few pointers from a friend, he picked up a pole and cleared 12 feet.
"This is his passion," PSU assistant Seth Henson said. "This is what he loves to do."
Trubachik will get his chance on the big stage Thursday at Hayward Field, when the decathlon begins at the NCAA Track & Field Championships.
The PSU record holder, who is seeded 18th with a season-best score of 7,390, has big hopes.
"My overall goal is getting into the high 7,000s, close to 8,000," Trubachik said. "That should put me among the top five."
It would be a big step, but Trubachik has a way of getting what he goes after.
His goal coming into the season was to make it to the NCAA Championships. Now, look. Trubachik is the first Portland State male to reach the meet since the Vikings returned to the Division I level in 1997.
"Every time he goes out he's found a way to score higher than the time before," Henson said.
Trubachik is a student of the event. He and Henson spent an afternoon underneath a broiling Texas sun at the NCAA West Regional two weeks ago, studying technique through five rounds of the long jump.
He recently found a YouTube clip of the decathlon competition from "16 Days of Glory," a documentary about the 1984 Olympic Games that zeroed in on the pole vault.
German Jurgen Hingsen, a former world-record holder, missed twice at the opening height. It took a clearance on his third attempt for him to remain in the competition, and he would go on to win the silver medal.
"I was just sitting here, watching it and I got all excited," Trubachik said. "That was pretty intense."