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Eric Peterson, Published April 24 2012

Concordia provides smooth landing for track standout

Moorhead - A couple springs ago, Marv Roeske got a phone call from a parent, alerting the Cobbers track coach that his kid planned to attend Concordia.

The father explained that his daughter had some talent and upside, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be a college athlete.

“Occasionally, you get a referral from somebody, rarely a parent, and many times they don’t amount to much,” Roeske said.

This time the tip proved solid. Hilary Thompson – now a Concordia sophomore – eventually decided to go out for track. This spring, Thompson has blossomed into one of the top jumpers in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The 5-foot-11 Thompson has the top women’s leaps in the triple jump (38-6¾) and the long jump (17-8) this outdoor season. Her triple jump is the second best in school history, a couple inches off a record that was set in 1989.

“It’s been a gradual metamorphosis,” Roeske said. “It’s not happened all at once.”

Not bad for an athlete who “wanted to be done” with athletics after high school. Thompson was a volleyball and track athlete while at Helena High School in Montana. She selected Concordia for academic reasons.

“Track was not on her radar,” said Rick Thompson, Hilary’s father. “She did not want to do college athletics.”

Rick made the call to Roeske near the end of Hilary’s senior year in high school because Rick, a former college athlete, thought track would add to his daughter’s college years.

Roeske sensed that in that initial discussion.

“His main concern wasn’t what she could achieve in track,” said Roeske. “It was what track could do for her as far as rounding out her college experience.”

Rick had a solid college career at the University of Montana. He was a 7-foot high jumper. Rick was also a four-time Jamaican high school national champion in the high jump.

“It makes the four years go by very quickly,” said Rick, who now coaches soccer and track at Capital High School in Helena. “I thought it would be a good way for her to meet new friends, see new places and expand her horizons.”

Hilary said she didn’t make a final track decision until midway through her freshman year at Concordia. Practice for the 2011 indoor season started soon after Hilary returned from holiday break.

“I talked about it with my roommate and friends,” Hilary said. “Four o’clock rolled around the next day and I just went. I just thought I would go for it and try it out and see if I liked it or not.”

Hilary remembers that first practice being a tough one, but stuck it out. As a freshman, she placed third in the triple jump at the MIAC Indoor. That early success wasn’t the lone reason she chose to stay with the team.

“I like being able to do well, but my favorite part of practice is being able to see my teammates and my coaches,” Hilary said. “I want to at least be there for my team and I like getting points during track meets.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com

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