Former North Allegheny track star Ayden Owens transferring to Michigan

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Monday, July 1, 2019 | 2:52 PM


Ayden Owens enjoyed his freshman year on the West Coast, the warm weather and the Los Angeles lifestyle.

But to reach his decathlon dreams, the former North Allegheny track star decided he needed a change. Owens announced Monday that he’ll transfer from Southern Cal to Michigan, leaving the Pac-12 for the Big 10 after one outstanding season.

And he leaves with no regrets.

“I’m extremely content with everything I was able to accomplish,” said Owens, who earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors. “I don’t regret anything. I don’t wish that I had never gone to USC.

“I’m really happy with how it all went,” he added. “I’m just seeking better opportunities for my long-term success.”

Owens grabbed headlines in April when he broke the coveted 8,000-point decathlon mark in the Bryan Clay Invitational at Azusa Pacific University. His 8,130-point total ranked third all-time internationally by an under-20 athlete using senior implements (taller hurdles, heavier shot and discus), according to Milesplit.com.

However, he was concerned with turnover among USC’s coaching staff and a lack of decathlon training partners. He called transferring a “tough decision” that he’d wrestled with for months.

Owens expects to be eligible immediately.

“Academically speaking and where USC is located, I loved everything about it,” he said. “I loved everything about Los Angeles and the networking opportunities that USC provided, but the athletics part of it — and the decathlon specifically — needed something more.”

Owens was recruited to Southern Cal by multi-events assistant coach Sheldon Blockberger, who left for Arizona just before Owens joined the team. Blockberger’s replacement, Carjay Lyles, is now leaving as well, Owens said.

“The multi position at USC was just a little too unstable,” Owens said. “For my long-term success, I felt like I needed one decathlon coach who could really get me to the next level, and I felt like USC wasn’t really the best place for that.”

Owens believes he’ll find that at Michigan with coach Jerry Clayton and multi-event assistant Jenni Ashcroft. He made a recruiting visit to Michigan in high school before choosing USC.

“Coach Clayton has coached the decathlon at the highest of levels — coached at the Olympics — and he’s coached several 8,000-plus point guys,” Owens said.

Michigan decathlete Jack Lint, a graduate transfer, placed fourth at the NCAA championships in June. Lint has graduated but will be around as a training partner, Owens said. Michigan also has an incoming freshman who’s a decathlete.

“I look forward to be able to train with at least one or two guys who can help push me,” Owens said.

He realizes he’s also trading beaches and sunshine for Ann Arbor’s snowy winters, but Michigan opened a new indoor track facility in 2017 that will make his transition easier.

“The new facility kind of makes up for the weather,” Owens said. “They just built an insane, world-class indoor 200-meter bank and then a 300-meter (track) going around that. There’s a weight room in there, a training room, so you don’t need to be outside training if it’s bad weather.

“I probably wouldn’t be at Michigan if they didn’t have that,” he said, “but the whole package made up for the weather.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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