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FORESTVILLE — For this column on El Molino senior and reigning Redwood Empire pentathlon champion Jack Fricker, I looked up the definition of the event. My dictionary tells me that the Olympic pentathlon consists of a 5,000-meter horseback ride, a 4,000-meter cross country run, a 300-meter swim, foil fencing and pistol shooting.

I had to laugh. I was looking at the wrong pentathlon list, but it occurred to me: Fricker, who posted the second-highest pentathlon score in Redwood Empire history while crushing a 26-year-old meet record at Montgomery High’s North Coast Track Extravaganza on March 10, could probably pick up an epee or dive into a pool and win.

“It’s hard to set new goals for him,” El Molino track coach Ryan Hopkins said. “Last year he won four events at the SCL championship.”

At the Sonoma County League championship meet his junior year, Fricker won the triple jump, long jump, 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles. He also excels at pole vault and high jump.

Did I mention that last year was his first season participating in track?

His freshman year at El Molino, Fricker played football, basketball and volleyball for the Lions. His sophomore year, he did soccer, basketball and tennis.

Last season it was back to an all-SCL campaign in football, then basketball and on to track. And this, his final year as a Lion, he had injury-shortened football and basketball seasons, but is off to a hot start in track despite taking it easy on his tender back.

He posted 3,005 points in the pentathlon two weeks ago, the second-highest point total in Redwood Empire history.

Only Paul Maloney, a St. Vincent High School grad, tallied more points — 3,173 — and that was in 1989.

This season, Fricker has posted the second-best 110-meter high hurdle fully automatic time in the Empire with a 16.34. In the 300-meter hurdles, he’s run a 43.12, which puts him at fourth best in the Empire and first in the SCL.

He’s the best long jumper in the Empire so far this season (20 feet, 10.75 inches) and sixth best in the Empire at shot put with a toss of 41 feet, 11 inches at the Montgomery meet.

That’s the mark I like best because — get this — he had never put a shot in competition before that meet.

Hopkins said he started working with him maybe three weeks before the meet, then told Fricker to let it fly.

“He threw it 42 feet,” Hopkins said, chuckling. “He beat my shot putter, which has inspired my big shot putter to try a little bit harder.”

The key with Fricker seems to be what happens when you line him up for competition. Head to head? All the better.

“Just let his competitive nature go; that’s when he’s going to excel,” Hopkins said.

That’s not too far off, Fricker said. He’s a tremendous jumper, but he prefers the hurdles because it’s a race.

“It’s just fastpaced,” he said. “It’s more competitive; you are racing people right next to you.”

Clearly a natural athlete, Hopkins said Fricker excels because he likes to succeed.

“He’s got a great mindset. He’s very competitive,” he said. “He’s not going to throw his shoes on the ground. He gets mad about something, but he finds a way to harness it.

“He puts a lot of pressure on himself on his own,” Hopkins said.

I wondered about the term “jack of all trades, master of none.” Is there any worry that trying his hand at so many things will keep him from being amazing — perhaps making the state meet — in one event?

Hopkins doesn’t see it that way.

“He likes the challenge,” he said. “I think Jack is a guy who would get bored if you did one thing. A lot of kids only want to do one or two things. It takes a special athlete to have the mind strength of, ‘Oh, I can do 10 things.’”

Plus, Fricker could well make the state meet while dabbling in nine other events.

Fricker is in the mix in every event he enters. He ran the 800-meter race for the first time competitively at the Montgomery meet and threw down a 2:11.

“He was pretty happy, but he really wanted to hit 2:10,” Hopkins said.

For a small team like El Molino, having a guy who can almost guarantee points is a boon. Hopkins maps out El Molino’s meets in advance to see where the Lions need to grab some key points — and that’s where he lines up Fricker. It was a strategy that helped El Molino win its first track and field title, boys or girls, in 13 years last season.

“I respect my coach a lot,” Fricker said. “It’s wherever I can help him out.”

Fricker, in just his second season at this, is contemplating trying to make it as a decathlete at the next level. Yes, it’s a late start, but look at his track record. Literally. Even if the decathlon included swimming and fencing, he’d probably ace that, too.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”

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