Slowly David Hardison’s accomplishment set in as he rested on the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse track at this spring’s NCAA Division III championships.

Hardison, a Bates College senior from South Portland, had just finished fifth in the decathlon at the national championships.

Not bad for a kid who played baseball until his senior year in high school.

“The work I put in at Bates was like a three-year process but every minute was worth it at the end,” Hardison said.

“When I finished fifth and earned All-American, I knew it was an accomplishment that we haven’t had that many times at Bates.”

Hardison became Bates’ 32nd All-American male athlete in outdoor track and field, and just the second in the decathlon.

“No one has been able to place higher at the NCAAs than David (in the decathlon),” Bates Coach Al Fereshetian said. “From that perspective he’s the best decathlete we’ve ever had. Bottom line, he had only one chance to be an All-American. Talk about a cool customer under pressure. He was terrific.”

Hardison finished with 6,541 points, a personal best by over 200 points. He set decathlon bests in the 100- and 400-meter dashes on the first day, the 110-meter hurdles to start the second day and then finished off his final competition with career bests in the final two events, an impressive 166-foot, 2-inch javelin throw and a time of 4 minutes, 40.17 in the 1,500 meter run.

“When we got to the 1,500 we pretty much knew I had All-American sealed. If I ran a normal 1,500 I would have been seventh or eighth,” Hardison said. “By running a personal best I was able to move up to fifth.”

Hardison was a two-year captain of the Bates track team. Taking a leadership role came naturally to Hardison. A top-10 student, he was a three-sport captain at South Portland High (football, indoor track, outdoor track).

“Dave cared about what he was doing, and he wanted to improve and challenge himself to be as good as he could be,” Fereshetian said. “From my perspective I always believed he had the potential to be successful but in the end, he exceeded my expectations for him.”

Hardison came to Bates as a hurdler and sprinter with most of his experience coming in the indoor track season. His South Portland coach, David Cahill, had told Hardison to expect to be introduced to the decathlon in college.

At 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, Hardison had a solid combination of speed and power, but all of the throwing events, the 1,500, and the pole vault were new events.

“You have to understand you won’t do your best every time. The goal is to just have solid events all the way around and if you do that the end result will be good,” Hardison said.

Hardison, 22, is already working his first job as a distribution center forecast analyst for Delhaize America, the parent company of Scarborough-based Hannaford groceries. He had previously interned with the company.

SAILING

Deirdre Lambert of Cumberland skippered Dartmouth’s A Division boat to a 37-point win at the ICSA women’s nationals and was named the Quantum women’s college sailor of the year.

Lambert started sailing at the age of 7 at the Portland Yacht Club.

She teamed with crew Carissa Crawford at the multirace regatta in St. Petersburg, Fla., that concluded May 24. Lambert is a 2011 Cheverus grad and a member of the Dartmouth class of 2015, studying biomedical engineering. Dartmouth won the team title while Lambert and Crawford were awarded the Madeleine Trophy for the low-point A-division team.

SOFTBALL

University of Maine at Farmington freshman Shelby Bryant of South Portland (McAuley) had a strong debut season. Bryant hit .387, fourth-best in the North Atlantic Conference, and was second on the team in hits, stolen bases and on-base percentage.

WOMEN’S LACROSSE

Messiah College’s Cecilia Kjellman of Brunswick and Babson College’s Jamie Spang of Kennebunk were participants in the Division III Senior North South All-Star lacrosse game won by the South, 11-10, on May 25. Kjellman, playing for the South, and Spang, a member of the North team, each scored two goals.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at scraig@mainetoday.com

Twitter: SteveCCraig