“On any given day,” the saying goes, you can achieve your dreams; accomplish your goals, etc.
But in reality, the phrase is for the underdog, the unheralded, those who, well, dream of winning a race.
What about the athlete who performs on “every given day”? The athlete who spoils “any given day” for everyone else? Where’s the love for that rare, dominant athlete?
Well, here’s your chance to love Brionna Thomas, the sophomore sprinter from Wayne High School.
Thomas is this year’s Girl’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year, not only because she toasted the competition in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes at the IHSAA State Championships. She earns the honor because she toasted the competition every single time she stepped on the track. Thomas went undefeated for the entire outdoor track season in those two events.
Think about it: no sick days, no injury days, no off days. On “every given day”, Thomas won.
“Brionna just hates to lose,” Wayne coach Felicia Gooden says in the understatement of the year. “That motivates her above all else. She just has to win.”
It would be one thing if Thomas raced average competition all year and then “peaked” for the state meet. But five of the top 10 sprinters in the state were in northeast Indiana. In dual meets, Saturday invites and even the Summit Athletic Conference meet, she was racing the best and beating them. Even at the Bellmont Sectional, she faced Bellmont’s Alexis Harvey and Homestead’s Ariane Nelson, the fourth and fifth ranked sprinters in the state respectively. At the Northrop Regional, she faced Harvey, Nelson and North Side’s Dyamond Morris (seventh statewide) and two other top 20-ranked sprinters.
Thomas says this high level competition helped her stay sharp instead of burning her out.
“I knew when I got to a race, I had to be at my best,” Thomas said. “I couldn’t get lazy. If I wanted to win, I had to be ready. It pushed me.”
Thomas came very close to winning it all last year as a freshman. She placed third in the 100 and second in the 200 at the state meet. In both events, her typical slow start cost her. So developing a quick start was Priority No. 1 for her sophomore year.
“Brionna improved a lot over the last year, especially from the end of this indoor season,” Gooden said. “I think the state indoor meet was an eye-opener for her and that really fueled her fire.”
Thomas placed fourth in the meet in the 55-meter dash, an event that is really too short for her. But losing nonetheless was a motivator.
“I couldn’t believe I got fourth,” Thomas said. “It just really got me thinking.”
Thinking about a couple of state championships? No, not really.
“I just wanted to do better than last year,” Thomas said of her second and third-place finishes. “I wasn’t thinking about winning at state during the season. I was just thinking about winning my next race.”
That attitude and focus led to one win after another, after another and suddenly Thomas found herself on the medal stand in Bloomington with two state titles.
“It was exciting,” Thomas said. “Being a two-time state champion? I hadn’t really thought about it until it was over. It was a great day.”
Every day on the track is a great day for Brionna Thomas.