West York's do-it-all freshman fueled by coach's challenge
Here are some of the top girls' track athletes returning to the YAIAA in the spring of 2017.
Despite being only a freshman, West York’s Tesia Thomas was given a most unusual challenge by Bulldogs coach Julia Haynes.
Thomas’ first season as a varsity track athlete hadn’t even started yet, when Haynes took her over to the record board inside the stadium at West York.
There, the coach pointed to the girls’ long jump and triple jump marks. The record holder in both events was a familiar name: Julia Haynes, from 30 years ago.
“I asked her, ‘Do you want your name on this board? If you do, this is where,’” recalled Haines.
“First thing I thought was that it made me want to get it even more,” Thomas said. “To know the woman that is coaching me and trying to make me a better track athlete, it would mean a lot if I could get that record.”
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It took less time than anticipated. Thomas broke the long jump mark on the very first jump of her very first meet, when she soared 17 feet, 5.25 inches.
The triple jump? Well, that took a little longer. Thomas leaped a 36-5.50 in the third meet of the season to take down that record, pleasing Haynes as the coach and former record holder.
“(The records) had been standing there long enough. It was time,” Haynes said.
Despite already being an accomplished athlete, Thomas was surprised by her performance.
“When they said my distance, I didn’t think I jumped that far. They said my distance and I was like, ‘Oh, OK,’” she laughed.
It was a sign of things to come as success has continued. On Friday at the Herb Schmidt Relays, Thomas (15-0.25) and partner Audrey Kinney (14-7), combined for a 29-7.25 to win the long jump in the small school competition.
Thomas (33-6) and Kinney (28-1.5) placed second (61-7) in the triple jump at the relays. Thomas said she enjoyed the combined-score format of the relays and was thrilled with the PR from Kinney.
“It helps me a lot knowing it’s a team. You have to look out for yourself and your teammate at the same time,” she said.
In addition to her jumping, Thomas was also running sprints for the Bulldogs, until that changed.
“I tried the pole vault just for the fun of it and I ended up getting the hang of that,” she said. “I am having a lot of fun with that and I didn’t think I was going to be good at it at all.”
Such versatility should come as no surprise, however. Thomas is also a standout on West York’s girls' swimming squad that tied for second in team points at the PIAA championships last month. She was named a first-team all-star by GameTimePA.com.
Thomas embraces the change of pace, making the most of both worlds, the pool and the track.
"I don’t have as long of a practice and I am going around with different people versus swimming," she said. “It is a lot of fun to not always be doing the same thing constantly, getting to do different things as far as jumping and running and working on technique."
A technique that is obviously working very well.