Blackfoot senior Matt Thomas attained some noteworthy ‘firsts’ over the weekend: competing at The Armory and visiting New York City.
Thomas competed at Nike Indoor Nationals, placing fourth in the boys championship 2-mile in 9:07.70 and eighth in the boys championship one-mile in 4:14.86, both personal best indoor times for him in those events.
Michigan’s Hunter Jones, who won the Midwest Regional titles for Nike Cross and Champs Sports and went on to place 10th at both Nike Cross Nationals and Champs Sports Nationals (formerly Footlocker Nationals) last fall, won the 2-mile title in 8:51.40 while South Carolina’s Knox Young, who also competed at Nike Cross Nationals in December, won the 1-mile in 4:11.49.
“(Hunter Jones) took it out pretty hard,” Thomas said Tuesday morning by phone. “No one really went after him. I was sitting in second place for a little bit there. I kinda went out a little fast. The mile was very competitive. Between eighth and third place, it was all 4:14. It was a pretty competitive race, a lot of running in lanes two and three.”
Idaho’s defending 4A boys individual cross country state champion and one of seven Idaho boys ever to break 15 minutes for the 5k, Thomas praised the atmosphere of The Armory, a world class facility which is home of the annual Millrose Games.
“The atmosphere there is awesome,” Thomas said. “It’s right there in Manhattan. There were lots of people there. It’s a world known facility and a lot of world records have been broken there.”
Thomas made trip with his parents Roger and Tia and his six siblings. He said he believed his mom and one of his older brothers had been to New York City before, but it was a first-time visit for everyone else. When not at The Armory, Thomas and his family visited the 9-11 Memorial, Times Square, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Statue of Liberty.
He also liked the milder March weather of the Big Apple.
“One day it was pretty rainy and cold but other than that, it wasn’t too bad,” Thomas said. “We came back and there was all this snow.”
Nike Indoor Nationals concluded indoor track at the high school level for Thomas, who also competed at the Lilac Grand Prix in January in Spokane (sixth place high school boys 1-mile in 4:24.28) and Idaho State High School Indoor Open (first place varsity boys 1-mile in 4:25.09) and Simplot Games (second place varsity boys 1,600 in 4:18.26) in February in Holt Arena. The Oklahoma State commit said he gained much from his weekend in New York and now turns his attention to the outdoor season and traveling to big meets in Oregon and California such as the annual Arcadia Invitational in April at Arcadia, Calif. He is Idaho’s defending 4A boys 1,600 and 3,200 state champion.
“There’s a lot I learned from those races,” he said. “I think every race is a good opportunity to grow as both a person and as a competitor, whether it was trying to get out harder and racing smarter. Something like that is gonna help me race better.”
SIMMONS RUNS US. NO. 3 ALL-TIME 5,000 IN BOSTON: New Balance Indoor Nationals took place the same days as Nike Indoor Nationals, but at a brand new track at New Balance’s headquarters in Boston, and former Salmon runner Danny Simmons added to his historic junior year there.
Simmons, an American Fork (Utah) junior who received the Gatorade National Player of the Year Award for Boys Cross Country in February and won the Simplot Games varsity boys 3,200 in a meet record 8:53.80, placed second in the boys championship 5,000 in 13:59.96 to put him at No. 3 on the U.S. high school indoor track all-time record list for the event. Crater (Ore.) senior Tyrone Gorze won the race in a U.S. high school indoor record of 13:56.82.
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