Plan comes together for Pine-Richland sophomore in cross country postseason

Sunday, November 12, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Lucas Thompson left last year’s WPIAL cross country meet with the mindset that he was going to qualify for states in 2023.

It was an ambitious goal for a freshman, but one he was determined to meet.

He started doing some research on how he could optimize his workouts using influences like former state champ CJ Singleton of Butler.

What transpired over the months that followed was one of the best cross country seasons for a Pine-Richland boys runner in a quarter century.

Thompson finished 14th in the WPIAL meet at White Oak Park on Oct. 26, clinching his spot at states. He ran in his first state meet last week in Hershey and placed 154th out of the 240 runners who participated.

Making states was the goal, but in the process, Thompson posted the third-highest finish for a Pine-Richland boy at WPIALs in the last 25 years. He put himself in the same conversation as Michael Sanford, who won the WPIAL meet in 1996.

“It felt really good,” Thompson said. “I’ve far exceeded my expectations for this season. It’s been really fun, and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Becoming a runner the caliber of those who qualified for the state meet started with learning from others who have done it in the past.

Thompson posts his runs on Strava, an app that tracks personal runs and workouts and uploads the information to its social media platform. Users can view their own and other people’s workouts from all over the world.

That’s where Thompson saw what some of the top runners in the area were doing with their approach to workouts.

“Something I looked at was what other guys were doing in the area, like CJ Singleton’s workouts because he was a state champion, and Drew Griffiths, because he was one of the top guys this year,” Thompson said. “I just look at what some of those guys did and a lot of what they did was high-mileage and high-intensity training.”

Thompson carved out a plan and went to work.

“I started training a lot earlier in the summer compared to past years,” Thompson said. “That gave me more time to prepare. I increased my mileage a lot and intensity of workouts. It also helped to have a positive team environment that pushed me to be better. I had some great leadership from seniors on the team that allowed me to push forward and do my best.”

The competitive side of running is a big piece for Thompson, but just going for a run is something he enjoys. It’s not uncommon for him to just go for a jog with a friend or take a run by himself.

“Running, especially when I’m out for a long run, is peaceful to me,” Thompson said. “It’s almost a separation from the world and I enjoy that a lot. And then on the competitive side, it’s fun to see the personal achievements and the achievements of my friends and teammates.”

There were plenty of personal achievements this year and Thompson hopes to build up to an even better 2024.

“I want to do as well as I can at the WPIAL meet, but I really want to do a lot better at states,” Thompson said. “I want to focus a little more on peaking for states and doing as well as I can.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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