Big Red grad Josh Thompson now running track at LSU

STEUBENVILLE – Josh Thompson decided a change was needed and he made it.

The Steubenville Big Red graduate had a successful freshman season on the University of Pittsburgh track and field team, but wanted something else.

He wanted to improve and felt that necessitated a change of scenery.

Hello, Baton Rouge.

Thompson competed for the LSU Tigers.

“I really liked Pitt,” he said. “Pitt is a great program. The training is different at an SEC school where they take track a little more seriously.

“The workouts are harder and the weather affects things, too. Bad weather is hard to train in. Going from up north to down south has been a big change. The climate, obviously, is different.

“All of that factored into my decision and is factoring into my conditioning and training.”

Thompson is happy he made the move.

“I’m definitely happy I made the move,” he said. “I felt like it was the best move for me.

“Don’t get me wrong, Pitt is a great school and I did well there. But, I feel I can do better at the school I’m at now.

“I liked the coaches and I liked the school. I just felt, for me, I needed to make a change. I felt if I had to go somewhere to get better, going down south would be better because there’s more competition.

“The weather is a lot better down there and I feel that I am in the best shape of my life right now.”

Thompson said the decision was rather easy.

“My mom was a little concerned about it at first,” he said. “But, she understood that I wanted to transfer and why I wanted to transfer. Eventually, she felt like it was the best decision, too.

“Once I decided which school I wanted to go to, she was happy for me. She just wanted to make sure I was in school.”

He finished sixth in the 60 hurdles in the SEC Indoor Championships at 8.01. He season best was 7.89, which ranks him No. 7 on LSU’s all-time indoor performance list.

Thompson finished second in his first outdoor race with a top wind-aided time of 14.23 (plus 2.9) at the LSU Relays. He ran a seasonal-best wind-legal time of 14.29 (plus 2.0) in a 17th-place finish in the 110 hurdles at the 86th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays. He was the top collegian in the 110s at UCLA’s Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational (14.32).

He earned a 10th-place finish in the event at the SEC Outdoor Championships with his qualifying run of 14.46.

“It was different because the competition is a little more difficult,” he said about his sophomore year at LSU. “I struggled a little bit, so I am still where I was at. But, you know me, I will always go out there and do my best.”

The ultimate goal for Thompson is wearing the red, white and blue at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“That has never stopped being my goal,” he said with a smile. “That’s all I want to do. It’s all I think about. Every time I train, I think about going to the Olympics.

“That’s it.”

Thompson emerged as one of the world’s leading junior prospects with his performance at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain, where he earned a ninth-place finish after running 13.71 for a fourth-place finish in the third semifinal heat.

He captured the USA Junior Championships silver medal in the event after running a personal best of 13.59 in the national final. He represented the United States at the IAAF World Junior Championships with his runner-up finish at the USA Junior Championships in Bloomington, Ind.

Thompson has come a long way in such a short race.

He qualified for the Ohio state meet as a Big Red sophomore, finishing 16th out of 16 in 15.77. He finished third as a junior in 14.52 and stood atop the podium as a senior, running 14.19.

“Everything down there is great,” said the criminology major. “I am looking forward to getting back at it for the indoor season.”