Pentathlon Athletes Nationally Ranked
MADISON- The names Ben Thomason and Isaac Pollard are making waves on the national level of high school track. The juniors at James Clemens recently finished first and second, respectively, at the Last Chance Indoor Track Meet at Birmingham’s CrosspLex in the State Pentathlon Championships.
For Thomason, who began track and field in the eighth grade, he posted personal records in four events of the pentathlon event- 1,000m, 60m hurdles, long jump and shot put- in route to a win with a point total of 3,379. His performance put him in the state lead among Alabama in the indoor pentathlon and third in the United States this season.
“Winning the state was sort of unexpected for me because of the mile run event thinking it was going to be much tougher for me,” said the 5-foot-11, 171-pound Thomason who has a 3.5 grade point average in the classrooms at James Clemens. “I stayed with Isaac a good part of the race and that helped me. As for the national ranking, it feels great as it showed all my hard work has paid off, but I do plan on getting better.”
Pollard posted 3,198 points to finish runner-up behind Thomason, and like his teammate, has been listed among the nation’s best according to National Milesplit website USA Pentathlon ranking him No. 7. The 6-foot, 175-pound athlete said he and Thomason piggy-back off each other’s strengths as both are very competitive. He added, “I’m excited Ben won the State Championship as he put in the work, and he deserved it.”
“Being ranked No. 7 in the United States is surreal as I don’t know to process the national recognition,” said Pollard of his listing on the national level. “I definitely feel blessed and made the most of my season and at times is difficult to see it’s worth it, but when you receive a national honor like this it proves it’s all worth it.”
The twosome placing first and second in the state has never happened by any school prior to their doing so at the indoor meet. Pollard won the 1000m (2:51.37) in a personal best fashion. Thomason said, “Running with Isaac is the best thing ever as we’re always having fun, but we push each other to be better. I believe it’s good to have someone who pushes you and is trying to beat you.”
“I feel blessed to have Ben on the team and when he’s not around I feel lost,” said Pollard. “Having someone to push me makes me a better athlete and Ben is certainly a positive factor for me.”
Both student-athletes give many thanks to their coaches at James Clemens who have provided hours of coaching to allow each athlete to excel to the best of their ability, though both indicated they want more success and to become better competitors.
Pollard would like to possibly participate in track while attending college looking to attend either Mississippi State or Auburn to earn a degree in nuclear engineering. He thinks of his future beyond college of working on Naval aircraft carriers or in the medical technology field. Thomason is also looking at college, but has set a goal to become an Olympian and said, “Knowing I’m third in the country is great, but getting better is what drives me. I do suffer from what they call ‘jumper’s knee’ suffering some pain during my events and will visit a doctor after the season is complete. I’m using a pre-wrap on my knees and pain reliever when needed.”
Thomason played baseball, basketball and gymnastics as a youth athlete and got into track and field after hearing about the sport from his friends. He liked seeing the events that he watched during the TV coverage of the Olympics so he gave the sport a good effort starting in the eighth grade. His favorite event is the long jump where he has posted a personal best of 21-feet, five inches in the indoor competition and a 21,8 in outdoor track action.
For Pollard, a former soccer and football player, he gives credit to his mother who suggested he try running track as an eighth grader as she saw his potential of being a fast runner. He began in the jumping events and running the 400-meter event. He soon took up participating in the pentathlon while in his freshman year of high school and has progressed in a marvelous way. “I like the variety and the good challenge of the sport,” said Pollard.