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Bill Blackburn 

Mars Hill graduate Bill Blackburn introduced many Lauderdale County residents in the middle 1970s to a track and field event that would later become one of the most popular Olympic venues. For county residents, Blackburn became a standout in the decathlon before Bruce Jenner sprung onto the scene in 1976 as the "world's greatest athlete." Blackburn competed In the stale de­cathlon three times, finishing fourth as a sophomore and second as a junior and senior. He wos else a three year letterman in basketball at Mars Hill, serving as team captain as a senior, before his athletic career soared.  He accepted a scholarship at Oklahoma Christian Col­lege and finished third in the National Junior AAU Decathlon during his second season. earning honorable mention on the AAU AII·Americon team. Famed Auburn University track coach Mel Rosen thought enough of Blackburn to offer another scholarship. He went on to win the Southeastern Conference Decathlon in 78-79. setting an Auburn school record. He repeated as SEC Champion In 79-80 and qualified for the Olympic trials. He finished as Auburn's recordholder in the Shot Put and the Javelin Throw. Auburn finished first and second, respectively, in the SEC Track and Field Championships during his junior and senior seasons.