Athletes of the Issue: David Bolles ’18 Sebastian Costantini ’19

Steve O'Meara

It’s a rarity to find two of the best decathletes in the nation in the same state, but even more so when they both go to the same school.

Taking separate paths to the decathlon, both athletes eventually discovered the unexpected sport that they loved and saw a future in competing.

Senior David Bolles and junior Sebastian Costantini are two of the top 20 high school decathletes in the nation. The decathlon is a collection of ten events that includes 100 meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meter run, 110 meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, and the 1,500 meter run.

Their reasons for competing are slightly different, but they share a common trait that helps them thrive.

“They both are very coachable, which is something you need for a decathlete because there are so many events and techniques to learn,” Strength and Conditioning coach Erik Miller said. “Bolles and Costantini both accept coaching very well and always want to learn more and do better and improve.”

Miller also contributes the athletes’ continuing success to coachability.

“They pick up and remember new skills well,” Miller said. “Both are students of the game.”

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I love it, it brings me joy when I run it. I also love the competition, love winning. It just brings me satisfaction.”

-Sebastian Constantini ’19

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Bolles, in his shot put, improved significantly overnight. “David went from throwing 35 feet to 40 feet in the shotput in one session,” Miller said. “This shows how coachable David Bolles is.”

Costantini is strong on and off the field, and his organization skills are a testament of that.

“One day in the Learning Commons, I got a peek at his notes and they were the nicest set of notes I had ever seen,” Miller said. “His handwriting was fantastic, the notes were organized in such a way that they were really easy to read, and the way he had them set up were remarkable.”

Physics teacher and track coach Mr. Mike Koenig added his own input to why Bolles and Costantini continually get better.

“They have kinesthetic awareness,” Koenig said. “To their credit, before last spring neither of those guys were a multi-event athlete. They could do maybe four or five events, but they had to learn a lot of new events.”

Being a decathlete is a challenging task. It requires muscle memory and hard work.

“In track you think about hurdles or pole vault, there is a lot of different muscular movements that have to come together,” Koenig said. “Bolles and Costantini are pretty good at understanding what you’re talking about and implementing some sort of fix,” Koenig said.

Costantini thrives in the hurdles, while Bolles’s best event is the high jump, according to Koenig.

“You don’t get to do it a lot, where you run full speed and jump as far as you can,” Bolles said. “It’s really as simple as that. When you’re in the air it’s like you’re flying a bit.”

Bolles thinks that much of his motivation is driven by a love of competition.

“The decathlon is an easy thing to compete in,” Bolles said. “You can compete so hard for one event, and for some other people they only run the 100—but if you lose [in one decathlon event], you can comeback and win the next event,” he said.

Costantini’s says his biggest challenge out of all the events is the high jump.

“It’s scary. It’s almost like you’re flying, and I don’t really have a good back bend, so everything kind of shuts off and I lose all my form which is my main problem,” Costantini said. “I stop thinking, and I don’t have that muscle memory yet to get my back automatically like that, so it will be a lot better in the future.”

Both athletes had slightly different paths to becoming decathletes.

“I love it, it brings me joy when I run it,” Costantini said. “I also love the competition, love winning. It just brings me satisfaction. I first started freshman year, Coach Koenig pulled me out of the weight room after my broad jump and said that I should be running track, so I gave it a shot and ended up really liking it.”

Bolles started participating in Malvern track his junior year.  

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“To have two kids from the same school is unheard of, so it’s really great to have someone who can keep me grounded … we always push each other.”

-David Bolles ’18

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“I ran track through grade school, but it was all 100, 200 meters, long jump, easy stuff, and I was always more focused on baseball,” Bolles said. “I never really went to track practice and would show up at the meets. My sisters had ran so I just felt obligated to run.”

During junior year, Bolles decided to commit his full energy to track.

“I was talking to Mr. Koenig, and it seemed like I had more opportunities for college in track,” Bolles said. “The end goal for me was always to get into a good school and get a good education. So I felt like track could get me in a better position to do so than baseball could. I do love baseball and playing it, but I had to do what was better for my future.”

Bolles’s siblings guided him in making his tough choice.

“My sisters both ran track in high school, and both had track scholarships, but field hockey gave them the better opportunity,” Bolles said. So I looked up to them in the decision because they chose field hockey instead of track because it was a better opportunity for them. I chose track instead of baseball because it was a better opportunity for me.”

It is an oddity that two of the top decathletes go to Malvern at the same time, but is beneficial to both of them.

“To have two kids from the same school is unheard of, so it’s really great to have someone who can keep me grounded,” Bolles said. “If I was by myself, I would really have no baseline, but everyday out there, knowing which events Seb is better than me in and I’m better than him in, we always push each other.”

There is an added bonus when running against each other during the race as well.

“Whenever me and David are head to head, I always do better because I don’t want to lose to him,” Costantini said.