HELENA — It's been nearly two decades since Carroll College athletics has been able to claim they are home to back-to-back national champions, but at the NAIA National Outdoor track and field meet, Lee Walburn brought that designation home picking up his second straight title in the decathlon.
"It's definitely a sigh of relief to feel like you accomplished it. That you didn't let anybody down," said Walburn. "Then it's just nice to be home and don't have to train it a little bit of time off. So definitely relieved."
While Walburn says he took a little time to relax, the preparation for next year is already in the works.
"I've talked to [Harry] Clark about maybe trying to do a meet in the summer. It's kind of weird. I just like — it's weird that we're done. Because I feel like now we're starting to — like I'm in the best shape and I'd like to do something else competitive while we feel good," said Walburn.
While Walburn isn't quite full steam ahead, his head coach has his thoughts on Lee's mindset but is understanding of what he's trying to accomplish.
"How much do you have to rein him in?" asked MTN Sports.
"A lot. Too much," replied Clark with a chuckle. "I make him take time off, I make him be a college student. Going home, just having a job for a few weeks. And then you have your other ones, they're like, 'Coach, I need to go now.' So, I still don't let him but you know, he's doing stuff on his own. I'll give him mileage workouts, like the rest of my athletes. Just say, 'Alright, we're not gonna do any event work, but you can go ahead and do some miles and just stay in shape,' and he'll just take it to the next level."
Walburn said he's back home in Whitefish for the summer helping out an area food bank but has few plans to slow down after his brief reprieve.
"I've reached out to a couple other retired decathletes that I know are in the area to hopefully get some extra work in and pick their brains this summer. But basically, it's just keep training. Keep trying to get better. And hopefully next year, we can score a little bit better."