Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year twice.
SEC OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS:
Decathlete Moore chasing after past
Arkansas' Gabe Moore competes in the shot put event in the heptathlon competition during the NCAA Division 1 indoor athletics championships, Friday, March 8, 2019, at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
FAYETTEVILLE -- Twenty-five years after Mario Sategna won the SEC decathlon title in Fayetteville as an LSU Tiger, he's hoping to coach another champion in the same place for the University of Arkansas.
Sategna, who won the 1994 SEC decathlon title with 7,489 points, is in his first year as a Razorbacks assistant coach.
SEC OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS
WHEN Thursday through Saturday
WHERE John McDonnell Field, Fayetteville
DEFENDING CHAMPIONS Men: Florida. Women: Florida
TICKETS $25 adults for all 3 days, $10 17-and-under for all 3 days. Daily tickets $10 for adults and $5 for 17-and-under. First 50 UA students admitted for free with valid ID.
GABE MOORE AT A GLANCE
HOMETOWN Freeport, Fla.
AGE 23 (born Jan. 10, 1996)
NOTEWORTHY — Two-time All-American … Second in the heptathlon at the NCAA indoor meet this year and sixth last year … Ninth in the decathlon at the NCAA meet last year and second at the SEC meet … Graduating on Saturday with a 3.76 grade point average and a biomedical engineering … Voted by SEC coaches as the conference’s track and field scholar-athlete of the year … Career-high decathlon score is 7,901.
Among the athletes Sategna coaches is Arkansas senior Gabe Moore, one of the favorites to win the decathlon when the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships start Thursday at John McDonnell Field.
Arkansas' state-of-the-art facility, which opened in 2006, was built on the same site as the old track where Sategna won a quarter-century ago.
"It's really cool how everything has kind of come full circle," Moore said. "Now Mario's coaching me and I've got a shot to do the same thing he did 25 years ago at the exact same place. I'd love to do that for him and the team."
Moore is looking for his first SEC title after finishing second in the decathlon last year with a career-best 7,901 points to Georgia's Karl Saluri, who as a senior won with 7,934.
This outdoor season Moore ranks third in the SEC with 7,661 points, which he scored in his only decathlon at the Texas Relays on March 26-27.
Georgia sophomore Johannes Erm leads the SEC with 7,913 points he scored at the Spec Towns Invitational in Athens, Ga., April 5-6. Texas A&M senior Nathan Hite is second with 7,774 he scored to win the Texas Relays title.
Moore isn't putting too much stock in the rankings considering he competed at the Texas Relays less than three weeks after taking second at the NCAA Indoor Championships in the heptathlon with a career-best 5,975 points.
"I didn't have a great score at the Texas Relays, but I was running on fumes after competing in the indoor nationals," Moore said. "Our goal was to get qualified for outdoor nationals and we got that knocked out early so we could concentrate on getting ready for the SEC and NCAA Championships."
Sategna --who came to Arkansas after being an assistant at Wichita State, Minnesota and Texas before becoming the Longhorns' head coach -- said he likes the idea of coaching an SEC champion in the decathlon.
"That would be awesome," said Sategna, who was fired at Texas in 2018. "As a coach you have passion for everything you do, but knowing what the guys go through in the decathlon, it would be special if Gabe is able to win."
Moore had to adjust to a new coach this year after Travis Geopfert -- who recruited him to Arkansas after one year at South Plains (Texas) Community College -- became an assistant coach at Tennessee.
"It's been different, because every coach has his own mannerisms and technical cues," Moore said. "But Mario and I are clicking really well."
Satgena said he appreciates Moore's positive attitude.
"Whenever there's a coaching change, you never know how it's going to go," Sategna said. "But my hat goes off to Gabe because he's really trusted me."
After Moore competes in the decathlon Thursday and Friday, he'll graduate Saturday magna cum laude -- thanks to a 3.76 grade point average -- with a degree in biomedical engineering.
"I've got my whole family coming up to Fayetteville," said Moore, who is from Freeport, Fla. "It's going to be great having everybody here supporting me."
Arkansas Coach Chris Bucknam said it's no coincidence Moore has done so well in school and as a decathlete.
"The decathlon is a long, arduous event where you have to learn many different skills, and I think that correlates with doing well in academics," Bucknam said. "It takes a lot of hard work and the ability to see how that will pay off for you down the road in both instances.
"The instant gratification isn't always there. You have some events that come to you easier in the decathlon and then you've got some real tough ones, and I'm sure it's been the same way with Gabe's classes.
"Great decathletes and great students can compartmentalize really well and focus on the task at hand."
Moore began doing the decathlon as a high school junior and finished sixth in the 2013 World Youth Championships held in the Ukraine.
"I progressed quickly through the ranks," he said. "Since then I've just kept getting better and better at everything."
Moore said his favorite event is the 110-meter hurdles.
"The 110s are super fun," he said. "You just go and attack them."
Moore's least favorite event is the 1,500.
"I've been doing a lot of distance training," he said. "You have to tussle with the events you aren't as comfortable with to make the improvements you need to win."
The Razorbacks are hoping Moore can win the decathlon to provide 10 points for the team race.
"We're vying for the team title, so we've got to have those 10 points," Sategna said. "A guy like Gabe, you can talk to him about that -- this is what we've got to get done -- and he can handle that pressure and those expectations."
Bucknam said Moore's personality makes him the kind of person coaches want to work with on a daily basis.
"Gabe smiles all the time," Bucknam said. "He's a genuinely happy person and just a good guy to be around."
Moore said he's grateful his last SEC meet is at home.
"Everyone here knows about track and supports it," he said. "I know I'm going to have a lot of help from the crowd in all of my events.
"I'm ready to go out and compete and have some fun and hopefully get the SEC title."
Sports on 05/08/2019
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