It may have been two years since football favorite De’Anthony Thomas ran any form of track, but that didn’t stop him from making an impression during this weekend’s Oregon Twilight meet at Hayward Field. He proved to be a threat, even when “rusty.”
Freshman Thomas finished the 100-meter race in third with a time of 10.65 seconds, just in front of football teammate Dior Mathis. Washington’s Ryan Hamilton took first, winning in 10.51, and Oregon State football player Markus Wheaton took second in 10.58.
Later, during the 4×100 relay, Oregon took first with Thomas anchoring. But it wasn’t until the 200 meters that Thomas really shined, as he finished second just behind sophomore phenom Mike Berry. Berry won in 21.24, with Thomas trailing at 21.60.
“I think it went pretty good,” Thomas said. “I just have to come back next week and actually train for track.”
Back in 2010, he recorded the top high school 200-meter time in the country, a 20.61. Since then, he hasn’t competed in any track events, focusing mainly on football.
“I feel rusty; I just felt like, ‘Man, that took forever,’” Thomas said. Berry, though, was impressed with Thomas’ efforts.
“For being rusty he looked really good,” Berry said. “It just takes time.”
Berry, along with the rest of the team, is preparing for the Pac-12 Championship meet next weekend which will also be held at Hayward Field.
“I’m feeling good, we’ve been doing a lot of hard training,” Berry said. “My coach’s plan was for me to run faster later on in the season instead of earlier.”
More importantly, finishing strong at home seems to be a sentiment fostered by many team members.
“I just want to bring another championship here, and it’s at home,” Berry said. “It’s like our home field, our home-court advantage, we’re going to have a lot of fans here and we just want to put on a show.”
Other notable Ducks came through in the women’s 800, where junior Becca Friday had a new personal record, finishing in 2:05.61 and junior Jordan Hasay took a surprisingly reserved fourth, in 2:08.32.
“I think I maybe could have done a little better if it would have been a little faster,” Hasay said. “I just wanted to have fun and run a good race.”
Hasay, a two-time NCAA champion, has had a few bumps in recent weeks. However, her goals include much more than just the upcoming Pac-12 Championships. The U.S. Olympic Trials are just seven weeks away, and her plans include them.
“I mean, there is some talk of me giving up for the Trials and just focusing on that (Pac-12s),” Hasay said. “But we’re not changing the plan. I’m not just giving up; I’m still trying my best.”
It was also senior night at Hayward, and Oregon Track celebrated its 22 graduating members with flowers and a standing ovation from a packed crowd. Those graduating include 10-time All-American Luke Puskedra and five-time NCAA Champion Brianne Theisen.
The men’s 110-meter hurdles resulted in a second-place finish from Oregon freshman Jonathan Cabral, who barely trailed former Duck and Oregon Track Elite member Ashton Eaton. Eaton won in 13.57 seconds, with Cabral in 13.64.
Eaton was excited to return to Hayward, even with the Trials looming.
“(It’s great) to be able to still run with the Oregon guys, you know,” Eaton said.
The decathlete has been working hard in preparation for the trials, and looks forward to the next few weeks.
“Training is actually going really well,” Eaton said. “I feel really good. I’m just a little bit tired.”
Cabral, meanwhile, was proud of his accomplishments, regardless of his second place finish.
“Today I felt fairly clean and it looked pretty good I think,” Cabral said. “I love coming out here running against my friends, all the competition, I have all my friends cheering me on in the audience. It’s just awesome.”