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Track and field: Columbia-bound Thompson wired for sprints

Brock Thompson needs roughly 50 strides and less than 11 seconds to run the 100-meter dash.

That same amount of time is about all it took for the Guyer senior to fall in love with the race when he ran it for the first time this year after primarily focusing on the 200 and two relay events as a junior.

Thompson will compete in both the 100 and 200 at the area meet, which begins Thursday and concludes Friday. Teams from Guyer's District 6-6A and District 5-6A will compete in the event with the top four finishers moving on to the 6A Region I meet. A deeper look at the Guyer senior might show why he was drawn to the sport's main event, made famous by Carl Lewis and Usain Bolt, household names in the world of track and field.

"I just like how quick it is, and it's over before you know it," Thompson said. "But, it's so much fun in that short amount of time. It's frustrating because of that, too. There's no room for error, but when it works out it pays off."

Throughout Thompson's life, he played about every sport imaginable — football, track, basketball and swimming, to name a few. He swam for Lantana Lightning and Lakeside Aquatic Club as a kid but stopped in the sixth grade.

Then, one day last year on a whim, he showed up at Guyer's swim practice, and Denton ISD swim coach Chris Cullen liked what he saw.

Cullen was Thompson's coach with the Lantana Lightning and knew Thompson's athleticism, but he also knew it'd been a while since he'd swam competitively.

Before long, Thompson had qualified for the regional final in two relays and swimming's equivalent of track's 100-meter dash, the 50-yard freestyle, affectionately known as the "splash and dash."

"Kids who are fast-twitch athletes, you just work their technique and you have to have that fast-twitch explosiveness to be able to react and get off the blocks quick," Cullen said. "It didn't surprise me at all. If you have a lot of those fast-twitch muscle fibers, you're good to go. I always say if I can get an athlete with fast-twitch, I can turn them into a 50-yard sprinter."

Thompson was the freestyle leg of the 200 medley relay that broke Guyer's then-school record and was quickly pushing to be Guyer's fastest swimmer.

But all along, Thompson knew track was his calling, and he decided to focus solely on track this year and on going through a full offseason with no distractions.

The decision has paid off.

"Just the repetition of being on the track has been huge for me," Thompson said. "Now that I've been running throughout the fall, I think it's helped a lot."

At the District 6-6A meet last week, Thompson finished third in the 200 by matching his personal best of 21.90. He also took bronze in the 100 at 10.74 and anchored Guyer's 800 relay team that was heavily favored to advance. The Wildcats breezed to a second-place finish but were disqualified.

"For Brock to get out [of the district meet] in the 100 and 200 was actually really impressive considering the district we're in," Guyer boys track coach J.D. Aaron said. "Allen had three guys sub-11 [seconds] and there's a lot of speed in our district, not to mention our region. For him to do what he's done in both of those open events is pretty special."

Thompson's senior season took a turn for the better on March 22, when he committed to run track at Columbia, the Ivy League school in New York City. Since Ivy League schools don't offer athletic scholarships despite competing in Division I track, he hasn't technically signed but he was offered grants to cover 70 percent of the $70,000 annual tuition.

About a week later, Thompson ran at the prestigious Texas Relays with runners from across the country and set a personal best in the 100 at 10.67 while anchoring the 800 relay team.

"He was in Lane 9 in the 100 with Lanes 6, 7 and 8 empty," Aaron said. "That's hard to run your fastest when you've got nobody next to you pushing you, but he did it."

Thompson has a slightly different way of recounting the race.

"I actually thought I ran really slow," he said, laughing. "Whoever won it [Rowlett's Joseph Sheffield] is the fastest guy in the country, and I didn't know that. I thought I had like the worst time ever. He ran a 10.26.

"That was definitely the biggest stage I've run on individually. I hadn't really run the 100 until this year, but after that I'm definitely more confident going into area and hopefully regionals."

Aaron said Thompson has been constantly working this spring on fine-tuning the technical aspects of his running.

Some might think sprints involve nothing more than starting out of the blocks, running fast and finishing. But it's much more complex.

Thompson mentioned posture, how high his knees go in his strides, keeping the balls of his feet angled upward and arm pump. Aaron said Thompson is meticulous on perfecting them all.

"He's really focused on his starts and his block work, which is big because we really can't make kids much faster at this point," Aaron said. "It's all about those small things."

With all of Thompson's competitive accolades -- whether on the track or in the pool -- his coaches quickly pointed to his character as the biggest reason for his success. He hopes to see more on Friday when he takes the track at Justin Northwest.

Cullen said Thompson was a great teammate and blended into the swim team like he'd been there forever.

Aaron said Thompson is a rare kid in a sport that has the reputation of being an individual one.

"When I ask him to do something, he always answers with 'Whatever is best for the team,'" Aaron said. "That's a big statement for him in a typical individual sport. He's given me that answer countless times, and I've always respected him for that."

ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872 and via Twitter at @aboedeker.

Guyer's 5-6A/6-6A area meet qualifiers

at Justin Northwest

Thursday

Girls long jump: Eni Akinniyi

Girls discus: Christalee Kirby

Friday

Girls triple jump: Eni Akinniyi

Girls shot put: Christalee Kirby, Jade Thompson

Girls 800-meter run: Payton Duesing

Boys 800: Kevin Metzler

Boys 100: Brock Thompson, Joseph Fletcher

Boys 110 hurdles: Javan Reece

Girls 800 relay: Guyer (Emilie Chance, Ariana Butler, Jade Thompson, Jade Bly)

Boys 300 hurdles: Javan Reece

Boys 200: Brock Thompson