Jack Flood’s path to decathlon prominence has been anything but conventional.
But it’s landed the 23-year-old Blue Point native a shot at qualifying for the Olympics.
Flood has been front and center on the national stage since first picking up the competition that incorporates 10 different track and field events at SUNY Cortland back in 2016. He now finds himself training for the Olympic Trials at the end of next June at the University of Oregon.
“If you can see that you can be at the highest level, you can truly do it,” Flood said. “You just have to put the work in and stay consistent.”
Should he finish in the top three among the decathletes and qualify, the 6-5, 210-pound Flood would represent Team USA at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“I’ve come to the realization I can be one of the big dogs,” Flood said. “In the decathlon I’ve always idolized Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee, who were doing it as big as possible. I always wanted to model that. It’s a crazy feeling being on the path to that.”
Entering his senior year at Bayport-Blue Point, Flood had never participated in the pentathlon, which features five events, but upon attempting it he excelled quickly enough to earn a trip to the 2013 state championships in Middletown. Following his title-winning display, Flood attended SUNY Delhi from 2014-15 and began to excel at the Division III level.
Upon transferring to SUNY Cortland, Flood embraced the challenge of the decathlon and quickly excelled. He placed third at the indoor and fourth at the outdoor 2016 NCAA Division III Championships his junior year. Flood then won the national title in the outdoor decathlon the following season with 6,998 points.
The decathlon is split into a two-day competition, with the first day featuring the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 in sequence. Competitors then partake in the 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1500-meter run.
Learning new events was quite the adjustment for Flood.
“Going into college, I didn’t even know what the decathlon was,” Flood said. “I had no idea that it existed. That was a process. I had to learn discus, pole vault and how to throw javelin.
“It was a huge adjustment. I had no idea what I was doing at first. To learn three new events that are super technical, it takes a long time. I had to be a student of the event, watching film of myself and other athletes.”
After substitute-teaching in Smithtown and Riverhead during the spring, Flood opted to move just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, and fully commit to training. He placed eighth at his most recent competition at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships in July in Des Moines, Iowa, scoring a personal best of 7,711 points.
Flood said his training regimen features sprinting sessions Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and weight and core training Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. He's set to represent the USA at the Thorpe Cup in Germany on Sept. 14 and 15 before taking a month off and then training for the Olympic Trials.
Bayport-Blue Point track coach Mike Zafonte worked with Flood throughout high school and believes he has what it takes to make it to the Olympics either next summer or down the line.
“Whether it’s now or in the future, he’s not gonna stop,” Zafonte said. “He accomplishes the goal that he sets out to accomplish.”
Flood said he aims to inspire others through both his past accomplishments and current aspirations. He described what the opportunity to potentially wear the red, white and blue on the grandest stage would mean to him.
“It would be the greatest honor,” Flood said. “I believe America is the greatest country in the world. We have the opportunity and freedom to do what we want. The fact that I could do that by representing the country that I love is a blessing.”