Thursday, January 27, 2022

A look at the career of recent Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame inductee Adam Bork

For the Eagle | January 5, 2022 12:00 AM

An undersized small-town athlete who later became one of the best decathletes in the country and later an accomplished college coach, Bigfork’s Adam Bork had quite a journey during his time at the University of Montana.

Bork’s accomplishments were recently recognized by the university when he was inducted into the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame in October 2021.

A high school wrestler and track athlete, Bork was the 1997 Class A pole vault champion before taking up the sport of decathlon while at the University of Montana, where he placed 10th in the decathlon as a junior at the 2001 NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. before following that with a sixth-place showing in Baton Rouge, La. one year later.

Born in Minnesota, Bork and his family moved to Montana when he was four. Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Aaron, Bork found his way to the wrestling mat for the Vikings, where he finished fourth at the Class B-C state wrestling tournament in the 98-pound division as a freshman in 1994 before taking sixth in the 160-pound class as a senior in 1997.

Bork also showed potential competing on the track and field team for the Vikings, winning the Class A pole vault title in 1997 by clearing 15 feet, 1 inch.

After spending his freshman year at Montana competing in the pole vault for the Griz, Bork decided to try his hand at the demanding sport of decathlon.

A grueling two-day competition of endurance and athletic skill, decathlon pits competitors against each other in 10 disciplines, including the 100 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meters, 110 meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500 meter run.

With a strong background in pole vault to help him, Bork was able to earn a fourth-place finish in his new sport at the 1999 Big Sky outdoor championships as a sophomore with a score of 6,754, but redshirted the following year with an injury.

Back on the track in 2001, Bork’s point total of 7,470 earned him a trip to nationals in Eugene, Oregon, where he finished 10th with 7,229 points to earn All-America honors.

As a fifth-year senior in 2002, Bork finished first at the Big Sky Conference Championships before earning sixth at nationals with a personal-best of 7,699 points, a school record at the time and still the fifth-highest total in Big Sky Conference history.

He continued to train for the multi-events after graduation and competed in the decathlon at the 2002 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships and the heptathlon at the 2004 USA Indoor Track and Field Championships before a hamstring injury ended his competitive career.

After his injury, Bork became a part-time coach for the Griz track team before becoming a full-time coach in August 2007.

Under his guidance, the Griz became a dominating force in the multi-event arena of track and field with University of Montana athletes winning the 2019 indoor pentathlon, outdoor heptathlon and outdoor decathlon at the Big Sky championships. In the pentathlon, Erika McLeod not only won an individual conference championship, which was Montana's fourth in a row, but also set school and Big Sky Conference records for the event, qualifying for nationals with the 11th-best score in the entire country.

Lindsey Hall won six championships across the pentathlon, heptathlon and high jump, placing seventh in the heptathlon at the 2014 NCAA outdoor championships. On the men's side, Austin Emry was a two-time All-American in the heptathlon, finishing in the top 12 nationally in both 2013 and 2014. McLeod collected five Big Sky titles across three events during her decorated career, setting a Big Sky record for her pentathlon performance at the 2019 indoor championships. Jumper Sammy Evans won five Big Sky titles in the triple jump and long jump.

During Bork's time coaching the Griz, Montana won 29 Big Sky Conference individual titles in the jumps and multi-events, boasting three All-Americans.

After 19 years inside the Griz track program, Bork stepped away from his coaching job in 2021 to focus on other pursuits, but his legacy will live on in the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame and with the program he helped build to greatness.