Thomas 24th In 10,000 Meters At NCAA West Preliminary Meet
AUSTIN, Texas - Gonzaga University redshirt sophomore Emily Thomas became the first Bulldog to participate in the NCAA Track and Field West Preliminary Thursday night when she competed in the 10,000 meters, and she savored the experience.
For the record the native of Washougal, Wash., was 24th in 35:55.98. Aliphine Tuliamuk of Wichita State University won the race in 33:51.54. The top 12 finishers qualified for the NCAA Championship June 6-9, with the 12th spot going to Sarah Sumpter of UC Davis in 34:24.87. Of the 48 qualifiers, 47 started the race and 41 finished. Thomas qualified 36th in a school record 35:01.46.
The temperature was a little warmer than expected, with race-time temperature in the high 70's and the humidity at 71 percent at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus.
"It was good, hard and tiring, but it was an awesome experience," Thomas said. "It (the heat) was definitely a pretty big factor. If you were sitting in the stands it was kind of cool and there was a breeze. But the track was hot from absorbing it all day. They did have water stations and I took advantage of that."
Gonzaga assistant coach Patty Ley, who accompanied Thomas to Austin, said she ran a solid race.
"The last month or so she hasn't felt awesome for her third 10K (this year) in a unique kind of race," Ley said in reference to the NCAA West Preliminary. "You are running for time, but aren't running for time. She did a good job. She made real good use of where she was. There aren't any splits, it's just sheer racing. You have to trust yourself and race, and Emily did a good job with that. We are pleased. It was a good day."
Looking back, Ley said there were some things that maybe could have been done differently in preparation for the race.
"I think you have to go back further than just the last week or two. I think I could have been a little stricter with the recovery protocol after her first 10K," Ley said. "I would probably look for a few more signs as to how she was recovering and might not have run her at Oregon. But next year she'll be stronger and we'll just have to evaluate her recovery process."
Thomas agreed with Ley.
"I agree with Patty. I probably needed more rest. It takes a lot out of you. I'll be stronger next year, and with work I'm going to put in I'll do more leg stuff, my body will be another year older and I'll have another year of training," she said.
But the experience was everything she expected and then some.
"I expected it to be a great experience, but it's something I couldn't imagine until I got here. I didn't know what to expect, but it ended up being something cool that you aren't able to imagine without coming. There are so many great athletes here and I've only been training for three years," said Thomas, who played softball in high school rather than run track in the spring.
She's already looking forward to cross country in the fall and next spring's track season.
"I think it gives me, more than anything, the experience. This coming year instead of wondering what it's going to be like I know what it's going to be like. I'm excited about cross. I think we're going to do some great things and I'll be glad to be back with the team," Thomas said.