Getting to Know Jacob Thomson
Nov. 14, 2013
Each week GoPack.com will catch up with a different member of the cross country team to find out a little more about them. Today, we sit down with Jacob Thomson a true freshman from Holy Cross High School in Louisville, Ky.
Thomson came to NC State as a 12-time Kentucky State Champion and two-time Kentucky Gatorade Runner of the Year. He was also a two-time Footlocker Finalist and runner-up at the 2012 New Balance Outdoor Nationals for 5000 meters. He is the current Kentucky state record-holder in the 1600m.
So far in his debut season as a true freshman he has performed quite well, finishing with the second-fastest overall time while running unattached at the season-opening Wolfpack Invitational. The following week in his first official race, the Roy Griak Invitational, Thomson finished with the fourth fastest time amongst Wolfpack runners and then improved upon that in the team’s next race, the Wisconsin Invitational, coming in with the third quickest time for the team that day.
What has been the most difficult transition from high school to college?
“In high school there were maybe five guys in the country who could come out and compete with me, but now there’s a whole bunch of guys. I knew coming in Andrew Colley was a top guy but my expectations were to be able to jump in and do a little bit more right off the bat. Now if you’re not on your ‘A game’ or make any mistakes there are a ton of guys there who are just as talented as you who can take advantage of that.”
You’ve been very consistent this year with how you’ve run and where you’ve finished. Is this what you expected to do coming in as a true freshman or have you surpassed your expectations?
“Coming in I figured I would find myself in the top five. Ultimately it’s the coaches decision as to what they think is best for the team, but normally if a freshman comes in and is in the top five they are going to run you. It’s definitely something coming in I expected to do, to be a high scorer on the team. I knew Colley being a two-time cross country All-American was a top guy but I wasn’t really sure about the other guys, so I wanted to see where I fit in. Personally, I expected to be up there around No. 3.”
Tell us about Andrew Colley. What kind of teammate he is both on and off the course?
“As a freshman, there are four of us this year, and we all want to see how we fit in with the team. Colley reached out to us. None of us have cars so he’s always offering us a ride if we need it. He’s not a big vocal leader, but if you sit back and watch him he always does all the little things. Graham Crawford is like that too. If you watch and observe and follow in their footsteps you’re going to get the right stuff done because those are two guys who don’t take any shortcuts.”
Tell us about what it was like at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota, your first official race at NC State?
“I was used to the traveling aspect because I did a fair amount of traveling in high school in order to get that high level of competition. But traveling with a team was something I had never done before because I had always traveled as an individual in high school. That had a little bit of a different feel to it. As far as the race, I probably went out a little bit quick. I was in the top ten for the first 1k but it was an 8k race. Jumping up from 5k to 8k is a big difference from high school to college. I wasn’t really ready for the level of competition either (laughs). That was the biggest thing for me to adjust to."
When you race against teams or runners better than you, does it make you a better runner? Or are you always competing against yourself and trying to improve that way?
“It’s definitely a combination of both. At the Wisconsin Invitational it was my second 8k so I wasn’t shell-shocked or anything. I knew what to expect and I think I ran a fairly good race. Looking back on it, I think there’s some ways I could have improved. We went out maybe a little bit too conservative. I’m always trying to find the fine line between going out too conservative or going out too hard. It’s something I’m still trying to figure out.”
Does the type of course you compete on matter to you? Do you prefer if it’s hilly, flat or a combination of both?
“I’d say it matters to a certain extent, but everyone has to race on the same course. Some guys like it to be a flatter, faster course, other like it to be a tough and grueling course. To me, I like courses where you can get a good rhythm going in. I just want to go out there and be tough. It’s my goal when I step to the line to put out there everything I have.”
You were one of the most sought after, highest-ranked recruits coming out of high school. How did you decide on NC State?
“I came on an unofficial visit when I was racing here at the Great American Cross Country Invitational. I had been I contact but had not set up an official visit yet, so I took my unofficial visit and had a good time with the guys on the team. After that I scheduled my last official visit and I thought I would take it here because NC State wasn’t too high on my list until I took my unofficial visit. But being around the guys and the coaches and seeing the facilities and the unlimited resources really changed my mind. So I came back on my official visit and we were going to a basketball game and I texted my high school and said, ‘I think this is going to be it.’ I canceled my last visit at another school and that was that.”
Talk a little bit more about those unlimited resources you mentioned and how those have helped you so far at NC State?
“We have a coaching staff with two coaches, an assistant coach, two graduate assistants; so there’s always someone there if there’s anything you need to make sure it gets done. In the Weisiger-Brown Building we have the training room to everything done, the weight room all of that stuff. The opportunity really presented itself through those resources. It always gives you the chance to take the next step and try to get better.”
Outside of cross country what are your interests and what keeps your mind fresh?
“I like being outside. Either going on hikes or sitting around a fire. You know, something like that. I just enjoy being outdoors. I think Raleigh is a great place for that.”
Being from Louisville, Kentucky have you ever attended the Kentucky Derby?
“I actually went for the first time last spring because I knew it would be the last time I would be in town for awhile. I went with a bunch of high school buddies, our senior year and all. It rained the whole time we were there, so we were stuck under the paddock.”
Right now you’re in first-year college. Is there anything that has piqued your interest so far this semester?
“I think I’m probably going to lean toward sports management maybe do a minor in business. I want to take running as far as I can as long as opportunities present themselves, but coaching has been my dream job, so we’ll see how that goes.”