Iosivas replicated enough that he went from 6-5 to 6-10 and a quarter in the high jump during the same day. He also learned to pole vault, racked up a career-best 16-1, and Samara thought he was soon headed to 17 feet.
While an injury, COVID and football (which has always been his focus) doomed his decathlon career as a freshman, he turned to the heptathlon and in the 2021-22 indoor season he finished fourth in the NCAA meet as a junior with a heptathlon meet-record 6.71 seconds in the 60-meter dash to top off a year he had the nation’s best score in an earlier meet.
As the Bengals found out in Thursday’s team meeting when the trivia question was put on the screen, there are seven events in the heptathlon and after Iosivas ticked them off (60 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60-meter hurdles, pole vault, 1,000 meters), he got a round of applause.
“Let’s see if he can translate that to football because that’s impressive,” says special teams captain Michael Thomas. “Any time you’re competing like that among the best, yeah, I’ll clap. I might have been the first one.”
One thing that translates to football is the repetition. Such as that meet where he gained five inches in the high jump.
“When he came back from each jump,” Samara says, “I would tell him, ‘Do this or don’t do that or don’t do this.’ And bang, bang, bang.”
That’s pretty much what he’s trying to do while watching Higgins.
“A big thing for me is dropping my hips,” Iosivas says. “When he told me how to do it and I saw how he did it, he literally showed me in front of him,” Iosivas says. Seeing it on video is different than seeing it in real life. Show me, replicate and do it right there as well.”
With the demands of football, Iosivas basically admitted at this past NFL scouting combine that those gaudy track numbers were pretty much accomplished on the side. Which is the way he wants it. He wanted to make it clear as the league evaluated him. He’s a football player who ran track and it wasn’t the other way around.
He didn’t compete this year because he was auditioning for the NFL, but Samara had him projected so highly as a potential decathlete because the top two finishers from last year’s NCAA indoors heptathlon championships both went into this year in the top ten in the world in the decathlon.
“He came in fourth, so he finished among some pretty formidable competition,” Samara says. “Knowing Andrei, you can give him a shot and let him develop and he’ll be a good one.”
The first shot comes from special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons and much like Samara did with the heptathlon, Simmons is teaching Iosivas from scratch.
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