COMMON CAUSE: St Edmund’s College national knockout team Sam Janison, Jayden James, Kerryn Ryan and (back) Benjamin Thomas, Alex Davies, Jude Thomas, Oliver Schmidt and Jordan Hudseith will have one goal in mind when they arrive at the Western Australian Athletics Stadium.
THE fastest man in AIC over 200m leads a formidable St Edmund’s College unit into the National Nitro Schools Knockout final in Perth on December 9.
Recent graduate Benjamin Thomas has given his all for the St Edmund’s brotherhood.
He served the great institution as college captain and in the sporting arena with distinction.
At the helm of the track and field team he cut a distinguished path.
His second place in the 100m dash and 200m victory at the AIC Championship will enter college folklore.
The loyal 17-year-old who epitomises what it means to be an Eddies’ man has made an enormous contribution to the fabric of the place.
But Thomas is not done yet.
“Success would mean a fair bit – to do this one last thing for my school,” Thomas said.
“We have got a pretty strong team, so we should do pretty well.
“I think we’ll be up in the top half contesting for the medals.”
Thomas said the squad’s qualification for nationals after finishing second at states was a sign that the 2013, 2014 and 2015 AIC Champion School is a track and field stronghold.
“We keep getting better and better each year,” he said.
“The school is supplying good programs and coaches.
“But a lot of it is the quality of the teachers. They get invested in the sport and learn a lot about it and pass the knowledge onto the boys.”
Under the unique Nitro format athletes contest the 60m, hurdles, one kilometre, long jump, high jump, shot put, javelin, two x 400m x 2 relay and a Swedish relay (400, 300, 200, 100m).
The blue and white flash will carry his teammates’ hopes in the 60m and join them for the Swedish relay.
He is targeting a podium finish in his solo race.
“Top three in the nation that would be pretty good for me,” Thomas said.
Competing in a primarily individual sport as a team presents an interesting dynamic not without its challenges.
“It is hard because it is really an individual sport so you have got to think about yourself but you also get behind your teammates and it is a bit more fun than competing individually,” he said.
“I’m kind of used to competing as an individual athlete and having your friends cheer you on and cheering them on, and just seeing how the points add up at the end of the day.
“This pushes you harder and you run a lot better times.”
The Nitro competition attracts the country’s premier track and field schools.
There will be elite Olympic prospects in the field but none with more potential than St Edmund’s middle distance duo Jude Thomas and Alex Davies.
Thomas said watching the pair’s gradual improvement throughout high school on the back of dedication and countless kilometres had taught him that persistence was the key to success.
He said he expected them to star in Perth and progress deep on the international stage in future.
“They’re quality,” Thomas said.
“Jude has a good chance of winning the 1km. Both of them put so much effort into training and they are both going to go places (with athletics).”
The 12-strong St Edmund’s contingent departs on Saturday, allowing time to stretch the legs after a lengthy flight.
For half of them, the competition will be their last act in college colours. It represents the culmination of six years of commitment and sacrifice, not only by them, but also by their tireless teachers and coaches.
That is why Thomas and the other senior members agreed to forgo schoolies celebrations to ensure they were primed.
While he will not be there next year, he believes the college will return to the pinnacle of AIC and he is determined to set a winning example for his year 11 peers to follow with his final act in Perth.