Neon yellow shirt, black compression shorts and a “Texas Relays” baseball cap, Trey Hardee stands with his hands on his hips, towering over the other competitors. It’s hard not to notice the two-time world champion and 2012 Olympic silver medalist.
Hardee maintains a mentor-role at Texas for the decathletes, and his journey started here — at the Texas Relays.
“My very first decathlon was here in 2003 for a different school,” Hardee said. He cleared his throat jokingly as the crowd of reporters laughed.
Hardee spent his first years at Mississippi State, where he was recruited as a pole vaulter, but his coaches converted him into a multi-event athlete because of his 6-foot-5 inch frame and athletic history.
As he recalls his first decathlon, his grin widens. He wasn’t always the best, but there’s nothing like the feeling of the Texas Relays.
“Didn’t know what I was doing and I finished and was like ‘Aw man, this is cool. This is it.’” Hardee said. “I got my butt whooped, like 7th or 8th place. Guy beat me by like 1000 points. But I saw that guy and I was like, ‘man I want to be just like that guy.’ Santiago Lorenzo, his first year out of school, out of Oregon, NCAA champ. I looked up all his stats and thought ‘I think I can do that. I can do that.’”
Hardee was right.
He left Mississippi for Texas and never looked back. He won the outdoor decathlon at the 2005 NCAA Outdoor Championships. He set the collegiate record of 8,465 points here at the Texas Relays in 2006.
Fourteen years after his first decathlon, Hardee is still competing. It’s a world championship year for track and field, and his last year on his contract with Nike. But he isn’t opposed to competing for longer, or testing his mettle in coaching.
“Trey is a great mentor, but he adds like a certain dynamic to the group where he can be real with you and tell you you’re doing this wrong,” junior Steele Wasik said. “And kind of a fifth year senior grandpa who teases you. You never know what you’re going to get with Trey.”
But there is one thing you can expect out of Hardee: relatable, useful pointers.
“We think really similarly and if I’m struggling with something, he’ll give me one or two points to focus on and it’ll get a hundred times easier,” freshman George Patrick said.
Hardee is always peeking over the shoulders of the Texas athletes at each event, ensuring that the legacy of Texas multi-event athletes only gets stronger. He’s also competing in a number of events at the Texas Relays to jump-start his own training.
He jogs up to the high jump bar and knocks it down with his arm, jokingly. High jump is something he isn’t fully recovered for yet.
“I think I’ve thrown up in every single place we have here,” Hardee said. “I’ve cried out here, I’ve died out here, I’ve done a lot of cool stuff out here. It’s like a second home.”