Last updated 6/12/15



Howell Earns All-SEC Freshman Status as Gators Compete at SEC Championships
Tuscaloosa, Ala. FRIDAY OCTOBER 31, 2014
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Thomas Howell earned All-SEC Freshman laurels for his performance at 2014 SECs (photo: David Christy)
The Florida Gators competed at the 2014 SEC Cross Country Championships Friday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., at the Harry Pritchett Cross Country Course. Behind a 24th-place finish from sophomore Taylor Tubbs, the Gator women finished seventh, while All-SEC Freshman Team recipient Thomas Howell helped the men to a 10th-place finish.

A post-produced packaged broadcast of the 2014 SEC Cross Country Championships will air on the SEC Network at 9 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 9.

NUMBERS OF NOTE
· Three Florida women set 6K personal bests on Friday. Redshirt sophomore Devin McDermott ran a 21:15.81, sophomore Amber Johnson’s 21:57.16 bested her previous top mark by five seconds and freshman Gabrielle Yatauro crossed the line in 23:26.56.

· Howell placed 47th, earning Freshman All-SEC status, becoming the sixth Gator male to accomplish the feat since 2011, which is tied with Missouri for the most during that time period. At least one Florida male has earned the distinction every year since 2011.

· Freshman Lauren Brasure ran a 21:28.00, which is the fastest time by a female Gator freshman at SECs since Genevieve LaCaze, a 2012 Olympian for Australia, ran a 20:49.73 in 2009.

· Eight Gators (four men & four women) made their SEC Championship debuts on Friday.

MEN

WOMEN

Elliot Clemente (Jr.)

Lauren Brasure (Fr.)

Austin Decker (Fr.)

Becky Greene (RFr.)

Thomas Howell (Fr.)

Devin McDermott (RSo.)

David Kilgore (RJr.)

Gabrielle Yatauro (Fr.)

·

Men (Complete Results) 8K

35.

Carlos Miranda

25:28.55

47.

Thomas Howell

25:41.16 All-SEC Freshman Team

51.

David Kilgore

25:49.21

60.

Elliot Clemente

25:59.85

64.

Mac Reynolds

26:04.70

77.

Mark Mutz

26:21.28

82.

Austin Decker

26:32.07

 

Women (Complete Results) 6K

24.

Taylor Tubbs

20:49.68

38.

Becky Greene

21:06.53

42.

Devin McDermott

21:15.81*

49.

Lauren Brasure

21:28.00

66.

Grace VanDeGrift

21:46.53

76.

Amber Johnson

21:57.16*

86.

Macy Huskey

22:13.50

118.

Gabrielle Yatauro

23:26.56*

*Denotes personal best

SPANGLER SPEAKS
On the women’s team performances…
“For the women, it was a much better job than the Wisconsin adidas Invitational. It is certainly not where we want to be. Becky Greene had her best 6K if the year and Devin McDermott had a great race and really stepped it up today. It’s not where we want to be, but it is certainly better than Wisconsin.”
-Florida assistant track and cross country coach Paul Spangler

Florida Set to Run at the Happiest Place on Earth
Gainesville, Fla. FRIDAY OCTOBER 10, 2014
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When the Florida men’s cross country team travels to the Happiest Place on Earth, Disney World, on Saturday, the Gators will hope to leave a little happier than when they arrived. Florida might not be riding any rides at the Magic Kingdom, but the team will compete in the Disney Cross Country Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. The Gator men are scheduled to begin their 8K race at 7:40 a.m.

This will be UF’s first competition since Sept. 20, when the men took second behind Georgia Tech at the Mountain Dew Invitational.

WATCH LIVE
Fans will be able to watch the Gators run and all of the Disney Cross Country Classic live via ESPN3, beginning at 7:30 a.m.

PROJECTED RUNNERS

8K Personal Best
Thomas Howell 24:45.76 (`14 MDI)
Mac Reynolds 24:56.41 (`14 MDI)
David Kilgore 24:18.00 (`12 SCBI)
Carlos Miranda 24.55.40 (`13 SEC Championship)
Mark Mutz 25:41.98 (`14 MDI)
Austin Decker 25:36.23 (`14 MDI)
Elliot Clemente 25:11.93 (`14 MDI)

SEC RANKS
Freshman Thomas Howell and redshirt sophomore Mac Reynolds hold two of the top 8K times in the SEC this year. Howell boasts the fourth-fastest and the fastest freshman time of the year. Reynolds has the eighth-fastest 8K this year.

TOP-10
In his first two collegiate races, Howell has two top-10 finishes on his resume. The freshman took second at the Western Carolina Invitational (15:20.46, 5K) and fifth at the Mountain Dew Invitational (24:45.76, 8K).

LAST TIME
This will be the first time the Gator men have competed at the Disney Cross Country Classic since the 2008 season. That year Florida finished second and was led by sophomore Anthony Morales’ second-place finish (25:02.80).

SPANGLER SPEAKS
“We want our guys to work together as a team tomorrow. We will be facing some good competition tomorrow, so I want them to focus on doing a better job of competing as a team than what we have done in the past and get ready for [Wisconsin adidas Invite] next week.”

Thomas Howell and Lauren Brasure Pick Up Weekly SEC Cross Country Honors
Birmingham, Ala. Tuesday September 23, 2014
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Thomas Howell was named SEC Men's Runner of the Week while Lauren Brasure was named SEC Women's Freshman of the Week.
.
After exceeding the initial expectations of their coach and wowing the crowd with their performances at Saturday’s Mountain Dew Invitational, a pair of Gator freshmen, Lauren Brasure and Thomas Howell, earned Southeastern Conference (SEC) weekly cross country accolades, as announced by the league office on Tuesday.

Howell was named SEC Men’s Runner of the Week after placing fifth in the men’s collegiate/open 8K with a time of 24:45.76. Having never run a competitive 8K before Saturday, assistant track and cross country coach Paul Spangler said he was blown away with the freshman’s performance.

Just two races into his collegiate career, Howell, the 2012 Florida Gatorade Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, has finished in the top-five in both competitions – he took second at the Western Carolina Invitational on Aug. 29.

He becomes the first Gator to be named SEC Men’s Runner of the Week since teammate Jimmy Clark earned the honor on Sept. 17, 2013. Howell becomes the first Florida men’s freshman to earn the award since Phil Duncan in 2011.

Brasure was named SEC Women’s Freshman Runner of the Week after a record-breaking day Saturday. The freshman from Ada, Mich., won the women’s collegiate/open 5K in a meet record 16:45.93, breaking the old record by nearly 20 seconds set by former Gator and 2012 Olympian Genevieve LaCaze in 2011. Her finish helped propel the Gator women to their ninth Mountain Dew Invitational team title in the last 10 years.

Additionally, the freshman’s time was the seventh-fastest 5K time in Florida program history. Having run in only two career races thus far, Brasure has already added a first-place and second-place finishes to her resume – she finished second at the Western Carolina Invitational.

Brasure is the first Florida women’s freshman to win the award since Julie Macedo in 2012.


Record-Breaking Performance Leads Gators to Title; Men Take Second at Mountain Dew Invitational
Gainesville, Fla. FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 20, 2014
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Freshman Lauren Brasure won the women's title and set a UF program Golf Course women's 5K record.
On a cool morning that hovered in the mid-70’s, the Florida cross country teams were anything but cold at Saturday’s Mountain Dew Invitational at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.

Led by a 1-2-3 finish from freshmen Lauren Brasure and Becky Greene and sophomore Taylor Tubbs, the Gators ran away with the women’s team title, besting runner-up Georgia Tech by 32 points. On the men’s side, freshman Thomas Howell’s fifth-place finish propelled UF to second place behind Georgia Tech.

NUMBERS OF NOTE
· Brasure broke the UF program 5K Golf Course record with her time of 16:45.93. The previous mark was held by Genevieve LaCaze, who ran a 17:05.09 in 2011 for the Gators. Greene also broke the UF 5K Golf Course record with her time of 16:55.93.
· Brasure’s 5K time was the second-fastest time in the history of the Golf Course. Tennessee’s Patty Wiegand holds the course record, running a 16:45.1 in 1990.
· Brasure ran the seventh-fastest 5K time in the history of Florida, while Greene ran the ninth-fastest time.
· Brasure’s victory on Saturday was the first of her collegiate career. The freshman finished second at the Western Carolina Invitational in her first race of the season.
· In just two collegiate cross country races, Greene has finished in the top three both times.
· Brasure. Greene and Tubbs finished 1-2-3 for the second-straight meet. At the Western Carolina Invitational, Tubbs finished first with Brasure and Greene following in second and third, respectively.
· The Gator women have won both races they have competed in this season, previously winning the Western Carolina Invitational on Aug. 29.
· Tubbs’ time of 17:07.57 set a new PR, besting her previous best by nearly 31 seconds.
· Redshirt junior Grace VanDeGrift, who finished 13th, set a new PR, bettering her previous mark by 28 seconds.
· Howell, who was running his first-career 8K, has finished in the top five in both his races this season.
· Redshirt sophomore Mac Reynolds followed-up his impressive season-opening victory at the Western Carolina Invitational with an 11th-place finish (24:56.41).
· The Gator men had three runners finish in the top-15, as redshirt junior David Kilgore, joined Howell and Reynolds.
· Five of the seven Gator men’s runners set new personal bests.

Gator Men (Complete Results) 8K
5. (3) Thomas Howell 24:45.76*
11. (5) Mac Reynolds 24:56.41*
15. (8) David Kilgore 25:06.17
20. (12) Elliot Clemente 25:11.93*
34. (23) Austin Decker 25:36.23*
37. (24) Mark Mutz 25:41.98*
44. (26) Carlos Miranda 25:50.10

SPANGLER SPEAKS
On the women…
“Usually I am pretty good about what I think somebody can run, but I totally underestimated the women. They absolutely crushed it. For Lauren, Becky and Taylor to run that fast on this course is absolutely amazing. I am very pleased – very pleased.”

On Lauren Brasure…
“We kind of had a plan to go at a 17:10 pace. I was talking to Lauren during the week and she wanted to break 17 minutes, and I kind of just told her to run controlled, and she did. What she did on arguably not a fast course is special. She is something special.”

On the men…
“We have some work to do. Our two, three and four runners did not have a great race today. Those guys have got to get better. The guys did well, but we have some work to do if we want to reach our goals.”

On Thomas Howell…
“I thought Thomas Howell did a phenomenal job. As a freshman to come in and run 24 minutes is extremely impressive.”

Gators Readying for Mountain Dew Invitational; More Than 100 Teams Set to Race
Gainesville, Fla. FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 19, 2014
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In the collegiate races, 29 women's teams and 27 men's teams will compete.

After a three-week layoff from competition, Florida returns to race tomorrow when it hosts the 26th annual Mountain Dew Invitational at the Mark Bostick Golf Course. More than 100 collegiate and high school teams are expected to run Saturday in six different races that begin with the men’s collegiate/open 8K at 7:55 a.m.

LAST YEAR
At last year’s race, the men’s team took first with a team score of 33 points, while the women grabbed a third-place finish with 76 points, a mere five points behind first-place finishers Tennessee and Auburn.

Individually, Jimmy Clark cruised to an individual title, besting teammate Mark Parish by six seconds. Clark’s time of 23:53.78 was the fourth-fastest 8K ever run at the Mark Bostick Golf Course. Eddie Garcia joined Parish and Clark among the top-five, taking fourth place.

For the Gator women, Agata Strausa ran to a second-place finish. She was followed by Julie Macedo in sixth. Sophomore Taylor Tubbs, the top returning finisher for the Gators, crossed the finish line in 14th last year.

THE MAC IS BACK
Redshirt sophomore Mac Reynolds returns to competition for the first time since winning his first collegiate race at the Western Carolina Invitational three weeks ago. Last season, Reynolds finished 38th (25:49.84) at the Mountain Dew Invitational.

ENCORES?
Tubbs enters Saturday’s race coming off her first-career win at the Western Carolina Invitational. Florida freshmen Lauren Brasure and Thomas Howell had sterling debuts for the Gators three weeks ago with both runners finishing second.

WINNING TRADITION AT HOME
Over the last nine years, the Florida men’s team has won the Mountain Dew Invitational eight times.

5K
Last year, in preparation for the 2013 SEC Championship that was held at Florida, the women’s race was a 6K. This year, the race will return to a 5K format.

POLLS & RANKINGS
In the USTFCCCA Regional Rankings, the Gator men rank third and the women rank eighth in the South Region.

SPANGLER SPEAKS
“The Mountain Dew Invitational is always an exciting meet that we have here at the Mark Bostick Golf Course. We have over 100 college and high school teams represented. It’s going to be an exciting meet with some of the top collegiate and top high school teams in the country being there.”

Gators Begin 2014 Campaign with Fourth Consecutive Sweep at Western Carolina Invite
Cullowhee, N.C. Friday August 29, 2014
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For a fourth consecutive year, the Florida men’s and women’s cross country teams swept the Western Carolina Invitational. Leading the way in the Gators’ season-opening race and claiming individual victories were redshirt sophomore Mac Reynolds and sophomore Taylor Tubbs.

Both the men and women saw four of their top-five runner’s finish within the top five. The women’s team score of 18 points bested runner-up Georgia State by 28 points, while the men’s 17 points topped the host team Western Carolina by 27 points.

The victories by Reynolds and Tubbs were the first of each runner’s career. In addition, the two Gators set personal bests. Reynolds bested his previous top time of 15:31.60 in the 5k by 17.85 seconds. Tubbs improved her career-best mark of 10:59.09 in the two-mile by nearly five seconds.

Since 2011, the first year the Gators ran in the Western Carolina Invite, a Florida man and woman has won the race.

Reynolds joins Jimmy Clark as active men’s Gator cross country runners to have won the Western Carolina Invite. Clark won the race in 2011 as a freshman, finishing in 15:39.11.

Florida freshmen Lauren Brasure and Thomas Howell ran their first collegiate races on Friday, both finishing in second.

Howell, the 2012 Florida Gatorade Boys High School Cross Country Runner of the Year, ran the fastest time ever at the Western Carolina Invitational by a Florida freshman.

All seven Florida women ran collegiate personal best two-miles...

“The men did a real good job today, having four of our guys finish real close together was great for the first race of the year. Those guys are significantly faster this year than they were last year on this course. They are getting better year-to-year, and that’s what we want to see...”

“Thomas Howell did an exceptional job, finishing second in just his first collegiate race. I thought him and Mac Reynolds, who won his first collegiate race today, did a great job for us...”

Anytime you have a freshman come in and finish that high up on the team, you like to see that. It’s good for them and it’s good for the future of the program. If you look on both sides, especially the women, we are pretty young. Lauren and Thomas are going to have a very successful year here, and a successful career here. I am excited to see what the next four years holds for them.”


XC Coach Paul Spangler Previews 2014 with Media
Gainesville, Fla.Monday August 25, 2014
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Florida assistant track and cross country coach Paul Spangler met with the media on Monday to preview the 2014 season and the Gators’ season-opening meet at the Western Carolina Invite on Friday, Aug. 29.

Last Wednesday, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) released its 2014 Preseason Coaches Poll. The men were selected to finish second, while the women were selected fourth.

The men’s team return All-SEC seniors Jimmy Clark and Eddie Garcia along with freshmen Thomas Howell and Mac Macoy, who were both named Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year in high school. In addition, redshirt junior David Kilgore begins his first season for Florida after transferring from the defending national champion Colorado Buffaloes.

On the women’s side, redshirt freshman Becky Greene begins her first season with the cross country team after being named the SEC Indoor Women’s Freshman Runner of the Year last winter. Greene ran nationally for New Zealand before enrolling at Florida.

When the Gators travel to North Carolina on Friday, it will mark the fourth-straight year the team has opened at the Western Carolina Invite. During that span, the Gators have won the team title on both the men’s and women’s side every year.


Niceville's Morken, Howell share Large School Track Athlete of the Year
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By SETH STRINGER / Daily New

Photo by NICK TOMECEK / Daily News

May 31, 2014
NICEVILLE – Thomas Howell – the man, the myth, the legend of Niceville’s long-distance running scene for the last four years – is more than a bit peeved.

“This is typical Nick,” the University of Florida-bound senior says of his senior pal, Nick Morken, who is now more than fashionably late for Thursday’s Daily News Large School Track Athlete of the Year photoshoot.

Five, 10, 15, 20 minutes have passed and still no Morken.

Howell has called him dozens of times, yet no answer. Then his phone rings. It’s Morken, and he explains why he’s late: He was at the track instead of in front of the school, he left his phone at home, he didn’t have his clothes prepared, etc.

This baffles Howell, who is a seasoned pro of Athlete of the Year interviews at this point.

How seasoned? “This should be your sixth Athlete of the Year – four cross country and two track,” I explain to the three-time state champion.

His response: “I wouldn’t know.” Actually it’s his seventh if you count his 2013 Gatorade Runner of the Year award.

Morken finally shows up without a medal. Howell has all nine (six track, three cross country) of his.

Fittingly, their differences in punctuality speak volumes of their disparate rises in the long-distance running game.

A league of his own

When Howell posted a 15:56 at the state cross county meet to medal in sixth as just a freshman, the Sunshine State was put on notice. Ever since, Howell – now standing a lean 5-foot-10, 140 pounds – has blazed a path of medals.

In cross country, he has placed sixth, fourth and first at state, his mountaintop moment coming as a junior. In track, he ran away with the 3,200-meter state title as a junior and was a part of the 4x800 relay championship effort this year alongside Morken, Jack Massey and Tripp Davis. All told, he has nine medals.

And the latest may be his most prized.

“We’ve always wanted to win as a team,” said Howell, who ran the second leg of the relay effort that produced a first-place time of 7:50.56. “It’s a really big victory for us. We’ve been working together and pushing each other since early in our careers for this moment.”

Howell also finished second in the 3,200 with a time of 9:11.07, putting a close to a prep career that will take him to the University of Florida this fall.

“UF is getting an awesome guy, an awesome athlete and they’re getting a really good teammate,” Morken said. “I’m proud of him and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do at the next level.”

Added Howell, “I’m just looking forward to the opportunity of improving academically and athletically. There are just so many things that can happen. It’s a good feeling to know that change is coming and a new adventure is about to start.”

The prestige of being a Gator comes on the heels of a record-setting four-year tenure replete with accolades at every turn.

Not only has Howell won nine state medals, but the school’s record-holder in the 3,200 is the only Niceville athlete to win state in two sports and capture three gold medals. The gold medals have also produced some prized jewelry, including state rings that cover the Niceville color spectrum: maroon, white and black.

Looking back at his success, Howell is both nostalgic and forward-thinking.

“It’s an honor to represent this town,” he said. “It means a lot to me personally, but going into college it’s all about to go away. I’m ready to build a new legacy.”

As is Morken.

Morken’s meteoric rise

Morken was introduced to the long-distance running game by Howell as a middle-schooler, and early on he showed glimpses of that raw talent.

Yet it didn’t translate into the state-wide success until his junior campaign, when he finished third at state in cross country and then completed a storybook comeback in the 1,600 to capture track and field state gold.

The 6-0, 145-pound senior continued the momentum into his swan song, first setting the school record in the 5K with a time of 15:07.57 in the prestigious FSU Invitational in Tallahassee.

Then this track season, he placed second at state in the 1,600 and was the catalyst behind the 4x800 relay crew’s state title. As the anchor, Morken turned what looked to be a third- or fourth-place finish into gold with a 1:55 800 split, which was highlighted by him taking the lead with about 500 meters to go and then opening it up down the final 200.

Asked about the significance of this gold compared to his 1,600, Morken said, “I’m a lot more proud of this one. I’ll cherish this one the most because I really wanted us to win as a team.”

Morken concludes his time at Niceville with six state medals (five track, one cross country) and three school records: the 800, 1,600 and 5K.

And before he heads to the University of North Florida, he’d love to add one more to the list.

Swan song

While the prep campaign has ended, Howell and Morken still have one meet left before they officially transition to the next level: the New Balance Nationals Outdoor from June 13-15 in Greensboro, N.C.

The duo will run the 4x800 alongside Massey and Davis, and the quartet will also compete in the distance medley relay (Davis the 400, Massey the 800, Howell the 1,200 and Morken the 1,600).

They’ll enter the latter with one goal at the forefront: setting the school record.

Their 7:50.56 state-title time missed the school record by .01 seconds – set at state in 1998 during a third-place effort.

“That’s one of the main reasons we wanted to go to nationals,” Morken said of the record. “I think we should get it. We’re just going to try and do the best we can. It’s a fun meet and I want to run one more time with these guys before I head off to college.”

Howell agrees on both accounts, but not before throwing out the possibility of national glory.

“I’d love to come home with a national championship,” he said, “but I’d rather go in with low expectations and enjoy our last hoorah before college.”

If the record isn’t meant to be, the two will bask in the glory of sharing in their second straight Track Athlete of the Year honor.

“It’s special,” Morken said. “It’s just another accolade to show the hard work has paid off. I had a great support system of coaches, friends, family and teammates, and I’m really thankful to be Athlete of the Year.

Howell also took the chance to thank his support system.

“It’s a nice final opportunity to thank the community for supporting us and just helping us grow through this entire process,” he said. “And it’s another opportunity to thank my family for always being there.”

So how will the two – who remain the lone athletes in school history with two state track golds – cope with running on separate teams for the first time ever?

“Oh, man, I’m looking forward to it,” quipped Morken, who quickly followed, “I’m just kidding. Thomas is awesome.”

Meanwhile for Howell, the competitive fire still burns bright.

“I’m looking forward to the few races that we have each season that we can compete against each other,” Howell said. “That will be awesome.”

Boys Large School Track and Field All-Area Team
Athletes of the Year: Thomas Howell and Nick Morken, Niceville

First Team
Tripp Davis, Niceville
Jack Massey, Niceville
Roman Spear, Navarre
Corey Bonner, FWB
Garrison Floyd, Choctaw
Davis McKinney, FWB
Trace McMullen, FWB
Trey LaNasa, FWB
Nick Monson, FWB
*Team is comprised of state-medalists

Honorable Mention
Alex Wattley, Navarre
Dominick Wolf, FWB
Christian Gill, Navarre
Caden Ewing, Niceville
Savon Amos, FWB
*Team is comprised of state qualifiers


Howell Becomes Gators First Cross Country Commitment From Class Of 2014 Boys
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By Todd Grasley
December 7, 2013

Thomas Howell, one of the top runners in the state of Florida for the class of 2014, has verbally committed to the University of Florida. Howell, was the 3A cross country champion, 3200m outdoor state champion, and Gatorade Florida Runner of the Year as a junior. He will join a deep Gator roster that finished second at the SEC Championship and has a slew of Florida natives on their roster.

What was the recruiting process like for you?

The recruiting process was an eye-opening experience. It was also very stressful as more options presented themselves. Everywhere I went I was treated well and welcomed like a teammate.

Where else did you consider?

I also considered FSU and Ole Miss but in my opinion the University of Florida is the best school for me because of the educational opportunities it presents and the trust that I feel towards the coach and the team

Why in the end did you choose the Gators?

When I visited UF the team treated me like I was already part of the family. I had the opportunity to watch the team do a workout on a golf course and I saw the bond that they shared as teammates. I immediately felt the desire to be a part of that. Coach Spangler has been very helpful and friendly to me throughout this process and I know that if I commit myself to the team then he will be able to bring out my full potential as an athlete.

Do you plan on recruiting more people to Gainesville?

Most of the other guys in Florida are already committed to other places, but I am hoping that my lead will entice others to join the Gator nation as well. My buddy Charlie Shackelford hasn't committed anywhere yet and I would be psyched to be a Gator with him, but more so I hope that he chooses the right place for him wherever that may be.

Personal Bests

1,600 Meter Run - 4:21.92
3,200 Meter Run - 9:20.02
5,000 Meter Run - 15:19.64

More Coverage
Thomas' Athlete Profile