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March 2, 2014

Huntsville runner grabs international opportunity

HUNTSVILLE — In only her freshman year, Huntsville distance runner Blake Thomason qualified for the state cross country meet in 2013 by placing seventh in the Class 4A Region III meet.

Thomason is taking her ability to an international level this summer by competing in the 17th Annual Down Under cross country meet in Australia.

“It’s just such an honor to be invited,” Thomason said. “To my understanding, there will be Olympic alumni there. So I immediately thought this could be an amazing opportunity for a scholarship. I’ve always thought it would be cool to run internationally. I've run nationally before, but never internationally.”

Huntsville coach Kathy Lehman received a letter earlier in the semester from Down Under Sports inviting Thomason to compete. The freshman has been running since she was 7 years old when she started out with track.

Thomason remembers being a kindergarten student who could beat some fourth-graders, which eventually led to her running in the AAU Junior Olympics.

By the age of 10, Thomason decided she wanted to run year-round, so she took up cross country in the winter and track in the summer. She’s competed nationally at Disney World and also thrived in academics so far at Huntsville High School.

“I’ve been very successful and so I immediately thought all of this running was to my advantage so that I could get a scholarship to a good school with my academics,” said Thomason, who ranks in the top 10 percent of the HHS freshman class.

Thomason said she goes back and forth between wanting to pursue a career in computer science and being a family practitioner. But for starters, she’d like to make her way to an Ivy League school or Stanford.

“I’ve always thought they had a great running program overall,” she said. “That’s a wonderful school. If I could get a scholarship there and one of my degrees, that would just be incredible.”

The race highlights an opportunity to compete in the Gold Coast 5.7-mile Challenge: a road race on a flat course with close to 4,000 runners.

The All-American Meet, hosted at Pizzey Park runs five miles, taking runners through tall pine trees and along the shores of a small lake.

It is a 2.5-mile route that runners repeat twice to get the 5-mile distance.

There is one good hill that will test runners twice during the race, but the course is considered to be mostly flat. All of the runners race together in each of the boys and girls races with the results scored separately in 16 and under and 17 and older age groups.

The Australia trip will be from July 1-9. Thomason will then fly to Hawaii for a retreat until July 12.

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Delanise Taylor, center, receives congratulations and hugs from her friends after being named as the new principle of Huntsville Intermediate School at the HISD Board of Trustees meeting on Monday evening.

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