Conner Thompson leads by exampleBy Matt Speakman | 09/25/2015 1:53pm
Connor Thompson rounds the corner during a meet. Photo courtesy of Steve Austell
A captain is an essential part of a team. They are called upon to standout from the rest of the team. In any facet of life, captains are expected to lead by example and show their teammates how to be the best they can be. They have to be able to handle a lot of responsibility, and the ability to manage their own time is crucial for success.
Conner Thompson, captain of the Alabama cross-country team, is a junior majoring in mechanical engineering. Balancing rigid academics with athletics can be tough for a student with a busy class schedule. The day of a cross-country runner isn’t exactly easy, either.
“We average around 14 miles a day, along with weights and different strength exercises several times per week,” Thompson said. “So really the best thing we can do on our own time is to recover by making sure we eat right and get as much sleep as possible.”
Thompson isn’t an athlete that has been doing this his whole life. He played other sports such as soccer and baseball growing up, and didn’t fully realize his potential until about his junior year of high school.
“I think my older brother unintentionally drove me into the sport,” Thompson said. “He picked up running in high school and had immediate success, and my ego led me to believe I could do even better, so I joined the cross-country team as soon as I could.
Watching his brother have success in cross-country drove Thompson to not only become a runner, but to be the best he could be. Thompson enjoyed success in his prep career at Oakland High School in Murfreesboro, Tennessee as he won the 2012 state title and finished runner-up at the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association's state cross-country meet.
Thompson’s prep success carried over into his collegiate career. In his sophomore year with the Crimson Tide, he was UA’s third finisher at the NCAA South Regional 10K . He also finished the Crimson Classic 8K with a time of 26:03.23.
The early success in his collegiate career allowed him to transition into the role as captain. Teammate Eric Sivell believes his role is important to the team to step up and lead.
“He is always one of the guys up front trying to help people make a good day out of a bad day,” Sivell said.
Thompson has competed in two events so far in the 2015 Cross Country season.
At the 4-mile Brooks Country Classic, he finished with a time of 20:30.42. He also was able to compete in the Samford Cross Country Opener with a final time of 16:50.12.
“He takes it very seriously and always makes sure that he eats right,” Sivell said.
Thompson will look to captain the Crimson Tide to a successful outing on Saturday at the Cowboy Jamboree in Stillwater, Oklahoma on Sept. 26.