BY Jim Fenton
Stonehill College junior Corey Thomas will attempt to defend his NCAA Div. 2 high jump championship this weekend.
Thomas became the school's first track and field national champion when he won the event with a jump of 7 feet, 1-2 inch last March in Albuquerque, N.M.
The Boston College High School graduate will put his title on the line in Mankato, Minn., on Friday afternoon. He is ranked fifth in the nation this winter with a jump of 7-21/ 2.
"He's been very, very consistent this winter,'' said Stonehill coach Karen Boen. "He's always been so consistent.
That's his biggest thing. Corey doesn't go backwards.''
Thomas won the high jump event at the New England Championships for the second time in his career last month by matching his own school record.
That came one week after Thomas finished second to Matthew Jeune of New Haven in the Northeast-10 Conferencechampionship meet.
"The thing about Corey is that every time he doesn't win, he comes back stronger in the next meet,'' said Boen.
Thomas has earned All-America honors five times during his career at the indoor and outdoor national championship meets.
"First and foremost, you want to be on the podium (as a top finisher) and be an All-American, and everything else after that is gravy,'' said Boen.
Thomas will also be taking part in the 60-meter hurdles as the 14th-seeded runner with a time of 8.01 seconds. The preliminary race will be held on Friday.
The Stonehill distance medley relay team of junior Sean Hanlon, sophomore Justin Blaszczyk and freshmen Patrick Cooney and Daniel Zawalich will also be competing at the NCAA meet on Friday night.
They finished second at the New England Championships last month, just a quarter of a second behind UMass-Lowell, with a school-record time of 9:50.33. That is the sixth-best time run by a Div. 2 relay team this season.
"They've been just fantastic,'' said Boen. "I thought our school record would stand for a lot of years, but they smashed it.
They are a determined, passionate group.''