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Weight Pentathlon Scoring Using NCAA Qualifying Standards

The weight pentathlon is a one-day multievent competition involving "decathlon-style" assignment of points to the thrower's best performances in five events: shot, weight, disc, hammer, and javelin. For an official open-age competition, there are point tables. There are also age-grading factors for handicapping masters competitions.

College teams organizing intrasquad weight pentathlons in the fall or spring often use relevant qualifying standards rather than a point table. This is done by simply by dividing the performances to some relevant standard. A lot of colleges use the NCAA qualifying marks as the 1000-point level. For example, if you throw 40 meters and the qualifying mark is 50 meters, then you score 40/50=800 points for that event. If you throw over the qualifying mark, you score over 1000 points. It is up to you as to whether you want to use the auto, provisional, or regional standards; Division I, II, or III.

Here are examples of relevant standards:

Youth:  Good: qualifying standards for a regional or national youth meet
        Good: National record for your age group
        Better: 10th best performance of last year for your age group.
High school: Good: The high school national records
        Good: National high school records
        Better: 10th best HS performance of last year.
College: Good: qualifying standards for the national or regional meet
        Good: collegiate record
        Better: 10th best collegiate performance of last year
Open:   Good: national or world qualifying standard (A or B)
        Good: national or world records
        Better: 10th best national or world performance of last year.
Masters: Good: qualifying standard or age group record
        Better: 5th best age group performance
        Best: smoothed curve of monotonically decreasing standards based on
        approximate best performance at any age.
In general, qualifying standards are good to use, but they are usually arbitrarily rounded to a whole meter--thus favoring some events over others. Records are, by definition, extreme outliers. Since some records are softer than others, it will tend to bias one event over the other. The top performance in a particular category is subject to variation depending upon the year and subject to extreme outliers. However, the 10th best performance in a particular category is somewhat more insulated by the variations in the extreme outliers.

One does not necessarily have to use the 10th best performance--one can do the 20th, 50th, or 100th, if the lists are deep enough. However, if you go too deep on the lists, you can run into the less competitive region of performances. I would suggest that the standard be high enough so that most or all throwers do not score over 1000 in any event. Even so, the system does not fail if someone does score over 1000 points.

Go to the NCAA Sports site to find the current year standards and performance lists for all divisions.

Now, somewhere, there are actual decathlon-style tables for the weight pentathlon, but since noone can find them, this is an easy alternative way to score a weight pentathlon that is especially popular in colleges. I believe the shot, disc, and hammer point tables are identical to those of the decathlon, and similar tables have been produced for the hammer and weight.

There are also age-adjusted tables for masters, which are usually built into scoring software. Age adjustments are sometimes made in 5- or 10-year blocks, which are less fair. The fairest age adjustments are made in 1-year increments.

Another scoring method for weight pentathlon is the "minimax" method. Rather than totalling the points for each event, the thrower's placing is based upon the lowest scoring of his events. This method can be applied to both the scoring tables as well as the qualifying standards. The advantage of the minimax method is that it rewards the throwers that have the least disparity in all of the events, and penalizes those who neglect an event.

In particular, this encourages javelin throwers to participate in weight pentathlons. It also makes scoring more challenging for specialists.

For top performances in the weight pentathlon and other combinations of throwing events, see my multiple events page.

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