The Thorpe Cup is considered the most competitive sports trophy of its kind — pitting athletes from Germany and the United States in an international track meet showcasing the men’s decathlon and women’s heptathlon.
This year’s two-day event, which wrapped up Sunday at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center, proved to be one of the most competitive in the event’s 20-year history.
Just 58 points separated the two men’s teams for the championship and just six points separated the top two men’s individual place-finishers.
The U.S. women successfully defended their heptathlon title by out-scoring the visiting Germans 18,117 to 16,368 points.
Chula Vista OTC resident athlete Kiani Profit won the women’s individual competition with a lifetime best score of 6,135 points.
The U.S. swept the medals awards as Chelsea Carrier-Eades finished second with 6,000 points to secure the silver medal and Lindsay Schwartz finished third with 5,982 to earn the bronze medal.
The American women finished with the top five scorers among the 13 participants.
“It’s a good competitive event,” noted CV-OTC director Dr. Tracy Lamb, who presented the awards. “It’s got an old-style ‘Chariots of Fire’ feel to it because the fans are so close to the action; it’s not in a stadium.
“The volunteer support was fantastic. It was nice to show the Germans how we support our athletes here. And the weather — how can you beat Southern California in the summer?
“That Kiani Profit, a resident athlete at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center, won the women’s competition speaks volumes.”
Carrier-Eades, who set a meet record in winning the 100-meter hurdles in 12.90 and also turned in the top marks in the 200-meter dash and long jump, had led the heptathlon after the first day. However, Profit made up ground with top marks in the final two events of the second day — the javelin throw and 800-meter run.
Profit (140-10) edged Germany’s Anna Maiwald (140-8) by two inches in the javelin throw and won the half-mile run in 2:09.37 — more than three seconds ahead of USA teammate Heather Miller.
The American women clinched the team title by placing all seven runners ahead of the German pack in the final event.
Fans waved miniature U.S. flags to bring in the victorious American women across the finish line.
Profit bettered her previous best in the heptathlon by 200 points.
“It was a blessing to have great teammates and good crowd support,” Profit said. “The support was amazing. β¨
“If you don’t focus on too much, you’re capable of amazing things.”
The U.S. men held a 185-point lead on the Germans with two events remaining on the second day schedule but the fortunes of the two teams turned in the javelin throw as five Germans recorded marks in excess of 188 feet (to just two Americans).
Germany took a 55-point lead into the final event of the competition — the 1,500-meter run. Despite a top three U.S. finish in the race, the German contingent scored enough points to actually pad their lead by three additional points to claim the team title.
Germany’s total read 38,899 to the Americans’ 38,841
The Thorpe Cup decathlon championship was the fourth consecutive by Germany.
“We have a great team, a great (coaching) staff and excellent support from our physical trainers,” explained Rene Stauss, who set a new meet record of 7-1 (2.16m) in the men’s high jump. “Everyone has their strengths and those strengths contribute to the team effort.”
Germany’s Mattias Prey edged Gray Horn of the USA by six points for the individual men’s title.
Prey emerged on top with 7,871 points while Horn totaled 7,865 points.
The 58-point spread between the teams equated to a whisker in the 77,740 point-total racked up by both squads.
The Germans occupied two of the three steps on the awards podium.
Prey won the gold medal to take the highest step. Beside him was Horn with the silver medal and German teammate Patrick Spinner with the bronze medal.
Spinner tallied 7,830 points.
The Germans finished with four of the top six scorers.
Maximillian Gilde, who finished 11th in the 14-man competition, was making his third appearance in the Thorpe Cup with the German team. He called the "team atmosphere" of the competition to be its top selling point.
"You don't do your own thing, you do it for the team," he said. "Every event, we are cheering for our teammates."
Spurred on by this intense team camaraderie, both German and American athletes set numerous personal records during the meet.
"It was a blast," said Wichita State's Austin Bahner, who recorded personal records in the long jump, javelin throw and 1,500 run. "I had a great time, probably one of the best meets I've ever had."
This was the eighth time the women have competed in the Thorpe Cup. The USA now holds a 5-3 edge in the series.
Germany will host the next two Thorpe Cup events, with the Chula Vista OTC set to host the event once again in 2016. Germany is expected to bring its full Olympic team to California as a training camp for the Rio De Janeiro Summer Games.
Men's decathlon/Combined points
1. Mattias Prey (Germany) 7,871
2. Gray Horn (USA) 7,865
3. Patrick Spinner (Germany) 7,830
4. Daniel Gooris (USA) 7,804
5. Steffen Fricke (Germany) 7,756
6. Simon Hechler (Germany) 7,749
7. Austin Bahner (USA) 7,744
8. Wesley Bray (USA) 7,718
9. Ryan Harlan (USA) 7,710
10. Rene Stauss (Germany) 7,694
11. Maximillian Gilde (Germany) 7,653
12. Isaac Murphy (USA) 7,627
13. Tom Bechert (Germany) 7,075
14. Dakotah Keys (USA) 6,792
Women's Heptathlon/Combined points
1. Kiani Profit (USA) 6,135
2. Chelsea Eades (USA) 6,000
3. Lindsay Schwartz (USA) 5,982
4. Sami Spenner (USA) 5,898
5. Heather Miller (USA) 5,848
6. Anna Maiwald (Germany) 5,796
7. Lindsay Lettow (USA) 5,663
8. Ryann Krais (USA) 5,621
9. Silvia Mrotzek (Germany) 5,385
10. Alina Biesenbach (Germany) 5,187
11. Simone Mrotzek (Germany) 5,181
12. Maren Schwerdtner (Germany) 5,036
13. Sharon Day (USA) 1,888 (two events only)