According to the NCAA’s Countable Athletically Related Activity document, NCAA athletes are limited to four hours a day of practice.
Therefore, it’s not uncommon that Central Washington University indoor heptathlete and Snohomish High School graduate Kodiak Landis has to be given the boot.
“I’ll have to tell him, ‘You have to go home now, sorry,’” Brittany Aanstad, Central’s track and field combined events coach and a Lake Stevens High School alumna, said. “But he wants to put in the work to get a little bit better every day.”
It’s that hard work that’s taken Landis from being a decent high school athlete to being a contender for a collegiate national championship.
The Great Northwest Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships take place this weekend in Nampa, Idaho, and not only is Landis the favorite to claim the men’s heptathlon title, he’s one of the top contenders for the NCAA Division II title.
“I like to know I worked as hard as I can, harder than anyone else,” said Landis, who’s listed as a graduate student. “That’s where I’m working right now, staying healthy and getting good workouts in so that I set myself up to where I need to be those two days (at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championship on March 9-10 in Pittsburg, Kansas). Once I’m there I want to leave nothing else out on the track.”
And it’s that work ethic that’s gotten Landis to this point.
Landis wasn’t always destined for track combined event stardom. The 2013 Snohomish graduate was a good athlete in high school, finishing eighth in the pole vault at the 2013 4A state meet, but not a star. He competed in just one combined event while in high school, turning in a mediocre performance his senior year in a decathlon when prom came between the event’s two days. He ran track for one year at Everett Community College in which he concentrated on the pole vault and long jump, just as he did in high school.
However, Aanstad saw Landis compete in that decathlon when Landis was a senior, and she saw a future combined events performer. Therefore, she recruited Landis to Central to compete in the heptathlon during the indoor season and the decathlon during the outdoor season.
“He was definitely on my radar,” Aanstad said. “He’s an all-around athlete who can sprint and run and throw.
“Now he’s having a career for the record books,” Aanstad added. “He is putting Central track and field on the map left and right.”
It’s taken a while to get there. Landis was forced to redshirt his first season at Central because of a torn labrum in his shoulder. Then the following year his results were modest as he tried to learn events like the high jump, shot put and hurdles, which he’d never really done before.
But Landis made the breakthrough during last year’s indoor season, busting through the 5,000-point barrier in the heptathlon — which consists of the 60 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60 hurdles, pole vault and 1,000 — and winning the GNAC championship. He advanced to nationals, where he set a personal record with a score of 5,342 en route to a third-place finish and All-American status. Landis set personal records in four of the seven events.
“I went in ranked fifth, and my goal was just to hold my ranking,” Landis said. “They were holding the Division II festival last year, meaning wrestling and swimming were in the same facility and it was a huge production. I was kind of awestruck during warm-ups the day before.
“But going into day one I just took it event by event, laid down a time in the 60 and the same in the long jump and kept chipping away at points,” Landis continued. “It was just an awesome experience and really made me realize where I was and how much more I wanted to achieve.”
This year he has that chance. Landis won the heptathlon at the UW Invite on Jan. 26-27, besting a field that included professionals and Division I athletes with a score of 5,407. That score not only was another personal best, it was an automatic NCAA qualifying mark and was the fourth-best score posted by a Division II athlete this season.
Landis knows he’ll need another personal best if he’s to claim a national title, speculating that he’ll have to break 5,500 to have a shot. But he believes the points are there to be had.
“I’ve had some pretty good practices in the long jump recently, so I think there’s a wall to be broken down soon,” Landis said. “Pole vault is one where I have a really good shot at higher bars, and just timing things right can be the difference in potentially another six inches, and that’s a lot of points. The high jump is one I’ve struggled with in the past, so that’ll depend on the day. And in the hurdles my score has definitely improved a lot from where I was last year at nationals.
“I just really want to express how grateful I am for all the opportunities given to be from high school to now,” Landis added. “I’ve had a lot of great coaches who believed in me and encouraged me to work hard, who told me I could be where I am today. If you told me in high school I’d be going to a national college meet I would have laughed at you.”
But now Landis is having that last laugh, and it’s possible that laugh will be accompanied by a national championship.
If you have an idea for a community sports story, e-mail Nick Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.