Champion Hurdler Ends on a High

Kyle Decker placed second in the men’s 400-meter hurdles and took home the crown in the 110-meter hurdles at the 2018 BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships

As a student at St. Charles East High School, Kyle Decker (CSH ’19) was initially drawn to gymnastics. Then he discovered his true calling: running. The Illinois All-State finisher caught DePaul’s attention, and he was quickly recruited on the Patrick J. Savage Endowed Scholarship for Track & Field. During his time at DePaul, Decker distinguished himself as a seven-time individual BIG EAST champion and the four-time defending champion in the 60-meter hurdles, setting an 8.12-second personal record in the championship finals, which made him the eighth male athlete to win four BIG EAST Indoor Championship titles, the first since 1997 and the first for the Blue Demons.

“These two moments—my conference win and also winning as a team—were definitely all-time highs for me,” he says.

Looking back, Decker admits that even if he hadn’t been recruited by DePaul, he would have chosen the Blue Demons.

“DePaul has always been a school that caught my eye. There was just something different about the experience here,” recalls the 22-year-old Decker, noting its urban setting, diverse student body and Catholic roots.

With running, he has found the perfect blend of discipline, solitude and teamwork. Hurdling, in particular, has been a challenge he has taken on enthusiastically.

“One thing that really stuck with me with hurdles was the technical aspect. Flat running is a little boring for me, and I really like having these barriers. I think technique is one of my strong suits. Once I learned how to deal with the barriers, it really made me enjoy the sport and the event more,” he says.

“One takeaway from hurdling is learning from your mistakes and constantly making little adjustments to improve your technique,” he continues. “In the classroom, I had to learn how to study properly and how to be more efficient, and I think the technical tweaking of track, and especially hurdling, has helped me a lot in my academics and time management.” Decker maintained stellar grades and a 4.0 grade point average every quarter.

Decker has taken to heart DePaul’s Vincentian mission. He helped organize a variety of service projects, produce a video about sexual assault awareness and launch a social media campaign promoting diversity and inclusion.

“I think those service initiatives really define who I am,” he says.

He also volunteered at Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s emergency department and has gone on several service-learning trips through DePaul to different countries, including one to the Dominican Republic, where he and other student-athletes worked with orphaned and disadvantaged children. In recognition of his work, Decker has received numerous leadership and student-athlete awards, including being the unanimous choice for and first DePaul recipient of the BIG EAST Michael Tranghese Postgraduate Leadership Award.

This fall, Decker began medical school. “Practicing medicine has always been a goal for me. I want to really make a difference in people’s lives, and I like to think that DePaul had a lot to do with that,” he says.

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