Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism.
The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Q&A with Ivy Heps decathlon winner Jack Intihar ’27

Intihar discusses competing at Heps, how he got his start in decathlon and what he is looking forward to in future years.

DSC02064.HEIC

This article is featured in the 2024 Green Key special issue.

On May 5, Jack Intihar ’27 won the decathlon at the Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Track and Field Championship in Princeton. Intihar, who only began running decathlon as a senior in high school, is now a budding star for the track and field team. The Dartmouth sat down with Intihar to learn about his experience at Heps.

Congratulations on winning the decathlon at the Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Track and Field Championship. How did it feel to finish in first place?

JI: I realized going into day two that I had more of a shot than I thought I did. My teammate Karl-Oskar Pajus ’25 has been pushing me all year, and so getting to win one and two with him was a really special feeling. And obviously it felt great.

You’re new to decathlon. When and how did you start?

JI: I was a sprinter and long jumper in high school, and I realized that I might not be recruited at a lot of D-1 schools — and I really wanted to come to Dartmouth. So I switched to decathlon, which is a more niche event that sort of fits my body type a little bit better. I started training the summer going into my senior year. It was just me, my dad and my little brother training events that we learned on YouTube. We traveled around the country because you have to travel for some of these meets late in the summer. I ended up doing my first official decathlon the summer before coming to Dartmouth.

The decathlon is 10 events over two days. What is it like to compete in such a long event?

JI: Most people assume decathlon is like triathlon or biathlon where it’s very endurance heavy, and it is in a way, but it’s also 10 different events. It’s four running events, three throwing events and three jumping events. It’s split up over two days, but you get a lot of rest in between. It definitely does wear down on your body, but it’s not about being the farthest distance runner. It’s about being well-rounded. 

It was definitely a long two days. It hit me very hard in the pole vault, because the more and more force being put into the pole, the higher and higher you go, and you’re getting more and more tired. The event culminates in the 1500 meter, which is very taxing. So it does get harder throughout the tournament. 

How do you train for 10 different events at once? 

JI: We essentially train for a different event every single day of the week. Coach Tim Wunderlich puts a big emphasis on speed endurance, so we’ll run very difficult workouts every Tuesday, and oftentimes on Friday as well and during weeks when we don’t have meets. Then the rest of training is speed work, technical work and strength work.

Are there any elements of your Heps performance that make you particularly proud?

JI: Coach Wunderlich talks about being better than your best. A lot of people see us as an underdog team and me as an underdog runner, which is to be expected. I’m very young in the sport, so I’m proud that I was able to do well in the events that I did well in, and also to remain calm and consistent when things went wrong in the competition. 

Ultimately, the decathlon went poorly for a lot of athletes, but I was able to maintain my composure throughout. I’m proud that I was able to do that.

Why did the decathlon go poorly for other people?

JI: A lot of it was due to injuries. It’s a long-term event, and anything can happen. Part of it is just staying healthy. I was blessed with an opportunity when one of the top athletes from Princeton, unfortunately, tore his hamstring going into day two. At that moment, we realized that we had a real shot at it.

What skills are you looking to improve going forward?

JI: I’m looking forward to learning the events more and getting faster. I definitely want to improve my throws as well as my 400 meter. I think those are two areas that I could see a lot of improvement in, seeing as I’m new to the event and because the 400 is very indicative of the rest of the event. Usually people who are better at the 400 — it’s a very taxing race — are better at the decathlon as a whole. I think becoming more mentally and physically tough in that event is something that’s going to improve my scores a lot.

Dartmouth finished fifth in the Ivy League at Heps. How do you feel about the team’s overall performance?

JI: I’m very happy with the overall performance of the team. Fifth is okay — it’s something that we worked very hard to achieve this year. It’s something that I don’t think we’re satisfied with. I think we know that we deserve to be in the top half of the league with some of these bigger teams. We do compete against schools that are more established than us, with bigger roster sizes. But something that Dartmouth prides ourselves on is being gritty and really showing up when things get difficult. Heps was a very rainy meet, and I think that played to our advantage. We were able to score a lot of points on the jumps and the throws side, as well as some sprints and cross country as well. I’m proud of my teammates for pulling together in a difficult situation and getting that fifth place.

Now that you have almost completed your first year on the track and field team, what are your overall reflections?

JI: I mean, it was a dream come true for me. In high school, I always wanted to be a Dartmouth runner, and it’s been pretty incredible. It has shattered my expectations. I love my squad a lot. I love my coach and I love competing every day. I’m very excited to come back next year. It’s hard being away from the sport for the two months that I have off, but I’m remaining active in the meantime.

What are you looking forward to in the years to come?

JI: I’m very happy with my performance at Heps. I also could have done better. Right now my goal is scoring 7000 points. I came up with 6900 at Heps — which is a good base — but I think I can build on it a lot. It will take a lot more than that to win next year. Pajus is a lot older than me — he was suffering with an injury this year. He will probably score around 7300 or 7400 next year, as will Philip Kastner from Princeton. To be able to compete with those guys, I’m going to have to improve in the event. Winning the Ivy League and being able to hang with those guys in the future is something that I’m looking forward to. A huge dream of mine would be to compete at NCAA nationals one day. Unfortunately, that’s only the top 24 in the nation, so it will take a lot — but I’m hoping I can get there by my senior year.

Before we go, do you have any final reflections on your athletic experience so far?

JI: One thing, a little more on the personal side — I just wanted to shout out my grandfather, who passed away. He was always a huge supporter of me and my athletics. He passed away when I was in eighth grade and I was not an athlete at that point. I was awful at football, but he came to every game and even a lot of practices as well, and I just know he would have loved to see what I was able to accomplish.