Thursday, April 18, 1991

Steve Rainbolt knows a challenge when he sees one.

Competing in the decathlon at age 33 qualifies. So does selling real estate in Dallas in the mid-1980's.

Rainbolt, a former Kansas track standout, has done both. In fact, Rainbolt, now an assistant track coach at Nebraska, competed in the Kansas Relays decathlon Wednesday and today at Memorial Stadium.

But that may not be his toughest challenge.

"Actually, I was in leasing," Rainbolt said of his Dallas real estate stint from 1985 to '87. "But leasing was just as difficult as selling. Nobody wanted to rent space for small retail shops."

That was about the time when the bottom started falling out of the Texas real estate market.

"I went to Kansas City before it got devastating," Rainbolt said of Texas real estate. "It was starting to get devastating."

There was a time when Rainbolt could be devastating in the decathlon. He still holds the KU record of 7,719 points, set while winning in the 1980 Kansas Relays.

"I JUST decided to get into this thing and do it," said Rainbolt, who was 16th in a field of 17 after Wednesday's five events. "I'm not really very well prepared for it, but it's a lot of fun."

Steve Fritz, a former Kansas State all-American, was running away from the field. He totaled 4,103 points, a personal first-day best, for a comfortable lead over K-State's John Dedrick (3,816 points).

"I surprised myself," Fritz said. "It went really well. I think my goals totaled 3,918, and I was way over that today."

Daphnie Saunders of Barton County held the first-day heptathlon lead with 3,080 points. South's Dakota's Darcy Siebels was second with 3,028, and defending champion Busarind Rogers of Pittsburg State was third with 3,002.

"I'm a little disappointed," Rogers said. "I had a good second day last year. I hope I will again. That's the great thing about the heptathlon. If you're off in one event, you can catch up in the others."

NO KU athletes were included in the heptathlon field of 13. KU senior Kim Huthoefer had entered, but she's recovering from a back injury and a cold, so she decided to skip the Kansas event and enter next week's Drake Relays instead.

Two KU athletes were in the decathlon Chris Walters, 10th after the first day (3,293), and Sean Jacobsen, 14th (3,002).

Rainbolt, of course, didn't enter the Relays expecting to win. But he did compete in two decathlons last summer.

"I'm just kicking myself I didn't do more since my senior year," he said.

At least he's back in track as an aide at Nebraska, where he coaches the multi-event specialists. One of his athletes, Mike Bailey, held third place in the decathlon after the first day.

"I really love it," Rainbolt said. "It's something I missed a lot."