INDIANAPOLIS – The University of Arkansas and USA Track and Field are pleased to announce Fayetteville, Ark. as the 2016 host of the 23rd Annual Thorpe Cup on July 29-30 at John McDonnell Field.

This is the 23rd of a series of annual international team decathlons between the United States and Germany. The U.S. teams holds a 13-9 W-L advantage, but the German team has won six of the most recent matches since 2010. 

In 2006, the women’s heptathlon was added to the contest with the U.S. leading the current series with a 7-3 advantage and the last six team competitions in a row. This will be the first international competition held at the University of Arkansas. John McDonnell Field is one of only three IAAF Class 1 certified tracks in the United States.

“We are pleased to welcome yet another premiere track and field event to Northwest Arkansas,” said Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long. “The University of Arkansas has an unmatched track and field tradition and has been the home to numerous major events. The opportunity to host the Thorpe Cup, our first international meet, will enable us to enjoy some outstanding track and field action while further enhancing our championship reputation. We look forward to welcoming teams from the United States and Germany to Fayetteville for some spirited competition leading up to the 2016 Olympic Games.”


Currently the world’s most important nation vs. nation team decathlon, this meet has been variously called the VISA CUP Meet or the JEEP Challenge. In 2007, the event officially took the name of The Thorpe Cup in honor of 1912 Olympic Decathlon Champion Jim Thorpe, of Carlisle, Pa.

The concept of an annual team match was initially conceived by VISA-USA team coach Harry Marra and Team Zehnkampf coach Claus Marek in 1993.

In the current series, the first meeting was arranged in Aachen, Germany in 1993 where Stefan Schmid of Germany and the VISA USA team were victorious. The U.S. team won six of the initial seven team battles. In 1999, the event hosted in Aachen was decided by a mere five points. Three years earlier in Edwardsville, Ill., the U.S. squad set a world five-man team record averaging 8121.4 points per man.

This meet has been the proving ground for many notable Olympians. All told, 15 Olympic decathletes have competed in the meet (see below). Only Kip Janvrin, Mike Maczey and Tom Pappas have won the individual title more than once.

In the years before the current series, the U.S., and German decathlon teams met twice: In 1974, Team USA won both with one of their decathletes in Tallinn, Estonia (tri meet: USA/USSR/Germany). Team USA won again in 1983 in Baton Rouge, La. So, counting the two earlier team meetings, the Americans hold a historical 15-9 national team advantage.


Olympians who have appeared in the Dual Meet:

USA                                                     Germany

       Kip Janvrin (2000)                                Stefan Schmid (2000)

       Aric Long (1992)                                  Dirk-Achim Pajonik (1996)

       Chris Huffins (1996, 2000)                    Frank Muller (1992)

       Rob Muzzio (1992)                               Mike Maczey (2000)

       Steve Fritz (1996)                                Arthur Abele (2008)

       Tom Pappas (2000, 2004, 2008)           Andrei Nicklaus (2004)

       Bryan Clay (2004, 2008)                       Rico Freimuth (2012)

       Paul Terek (2004)


Arkansas Men’s Assistant Coach Travis Geopfert is no stranger to the Thorpe Cup: Geopfert competed in the Thorpe Cup three times (’03, ’05, ’06) and has served as USA team coach another three times (’09, ’13, ’14). In addition, Geopfert has individually coached numerous athletes in the Cup including current Arkansas Track and Field Strength Coach Mat Clark (’10, ’11, ’12)


Arkansas Men’s Head Coach Chris Bucknam:  “We are very excited to host such a prestigious event. I know this competition is very personal to Coach Geopfert, and together, with our experienced and proven staff, I have no doubt we are going to host a world-class competition. The timing is exciting as well with the meet a week before the 2016 Olympic Games and we are thrilled to show the world our first class facility at John McDonnell Field.

Arkansas Men’s Assistant Coach Travis Geopfert: “I couldn’t be more excited to serve as host to this event. I appreciate USATF giving us this opportunity. I’ve been privileged to be part of it as an athlete, a coach, and now as a host. The history of this meet is significant and extremely important for the future development of our combined events programs for both the U.S. and Germany. The German Federation always comes to compete with a talented group led by long-time coach Claus Marek. When in Germany, they also do a fantastic job in hosting, thanks to Herman Holzfus, who leads all efforts. These two men, along with Coaches Harry Marra and Fred Samara as well as decathlon historian Frank Zarnowski, have made this one of the premier international competitions in the world. I’m excited for us to add to history and show the world what we can do in hosting track and field meets here at the University of Arkansas. 


Individual Event Meet Records:

100m    10.44                Trafton Rodgers/USA                Lubbock (+3.3)              08/09/98

LJ         7.71m (25-3 ½) Tom Gorz/GER                          Ratingen                       07/29/95

    windy 7.73m(25-4 ½) Chad Smith/USA                       Lubbock (+4.8)              08/09/98

SP        17.19m(56-4 ¾) Norbert Demmel/GER                Ratingen                       07/29/95

HJ        2.15m (7- ¾)      Tom Pappas/USA                     Walnut                          07/28/02

400m    47.08                Stefan Drewes/GER                  Bernhausen                   07/22/01

110mH 13.92                Darwin Vande Hoef/USA            Edwardsville(+2.9)         7/17/96

Disc     54.78m (179-9) Norbert Demmel/GER                Ratingen                       07/30/95

PV        5.30m (17-4½)   Mario Sategna/USA                   Kreutzal                        07/27/97

David Lemen/USA                     Bernhausen                   08/03/03

Jav       69.98m (229-7) Stefan Schmid/GER                  Aachen                         08/08/93

1500m 4:09.07 Kip Janvrin/USA                        Aachen                         08/08/99

1st day 4472                 Tom Pappas/USA                     Marburg                        08/08/09

2nd day 4166                 Kip Janvrin/USA                        Aachen                         08/08/93

             4183w              Kip Janvrin/USA                        Edwardsville                 07/18/96

Total     8569                 Tom Pappas/USA                     Marburg                        08/08-09/09

Team Score Record:

USA 40,607 pts July 17, 1996 to July 18, 1996 was a five man team World Recordaveraging 8121.4 points per man. (Edwardsville, IL)

Kip Janvrin 8462 pts

Drew Fucci 8146

Darwin Vande Hoef 8123

Brad Swanson 8066

Chris Wilcox 7873

For more information on Arkansas track and field including in-meet updates, follow @RazorbackTF on Twitter.