Lathrup sprinter leads Chargers girls track team

By: Jon Malavolti | Southfield Sun | Published May 11, 2011

 Southfield-Lathrup senior Jewel Thomas is poised for more success this track season as one of the fastest, and hardest-working, sprinters in the state.

Southfield-Lathrup senior Jewel Thomas is poised for more success this track season as one of the fastest, and hardest-working, sprinters in the state.

Photo by Jon Malavolti

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LATHRUP VILLAGE — Sometimes it’s tough for athletes or teams to recover after coming up just short of winning a title.

But Southfield-Lathrup senior Jewel Thomas isn’t bitter about finishing in second place of the 100-meter dash at the MHSAA Division 1 girls track and field state finals last year — even if it was by less than a second.

“It feels good to know that I was up there,” Thomas said recently. “It makes me want to try harder.”

That statement shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows Thomas personally. As talented as she is on the track, she is equally impressive for her work ethic.

“She’s the classic definition of a hard worker,” Lathrup coach Willie Norwood said. “She has not hit her peak yet this season. Once she does, these other track teams had better watch out. She has the potential to be an All-American.

“Some of the stuff, we don’t even have to tell her to do because she shows initiative. She comes out, she’s experienced and dedicated.”

It was because of that hard-work attitude, experience and dedication to the program that Thomas was named the captain of this year’s Chargers girls track and field team

Her leadership abilities might just be the only thing that outshines her talent and work ethic, so her value to the team is magnified when it comes to providing the young team with a solid role model.

“Fortunately, she’s taken ownership of that role. She pushes herself hard,” Norwood said. “She’s motivating the younger girls. I’m happy they’re being able to witness a talent like Jewel, because that will give them motivation to set their goals to become like her when they get to their senior year.

“She’s a natural leader, and having her out here, being able to show the younger girls what it takes, not only in practice but also in the meets . . . I’m glad they’re seeing what it actually takes to get to that front level.”

Thomas has been working to get to that front level ever since she was 8 years old, when she started running AAU track for the local squad Southfield Mustangs.

It was around that time that Thomas had a feeling she might be pretty fast.

“I’d beat the little boys in the neighborhood, in gym class,” she said.

So after leaving her neighbors and classmates in the dust all those years ago, Thomas has one final goal.

She wants to wrap up her career at Lathrup with a state title in the 100 at this year’s D-1 finals, which are scheduled for June 4 at Rockford High. And it’s a goal well within reach, according to her coaches.

“Hopefully, with her training and she continues to work hard — which she’s doing — she should have no problem either repeating or going above what she did last year,” Norwood said. “So definitely we want her to finish first and be the No. 1 runner in the state this year.”

After that, Thomas said she plans on walking on to the track team at Ohio State University in hopes of eventually obtaining a scholarship.

Chances are, she’ll quickly make her mark in Columbus, just as she’s done at Lathrup.

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