By Jim Fenton
He arrived at Stonehill College in 2009 as an elite recruit following a record-setting high school track and field career.
Expectations were high for Corey Thomas after he set four individual Massachusetts records while at Boston College High School.
With his career about to end this week, it is safe to say that Thomas fulfilled those lofty expectations during a remarkable four-year run with the Skyhawks.
"He is absolutely the best athlete who has ever come through the gates of Stonehill,'' said Stonehill coach Karen Boen. "There's no question about that.''
Given the lengthy list of achievements Thomas has put together, it is difficult to argue with that statement.
He won the national indoor high jump title as a sophomore in 2011, has earned All-America recognitioneight times and has qualified for all eight NCAA Div. 2 Championship meets (indoor and outdoor) in four seasons.
"It's starting to hit me very slowly now because everything's wrapping up,'' said Thomas when asked about all that he's done at Stonehill. "It's a great feeling to be recognized on this campus as one of the best male athletes ever here.''
Thomas' final competition for the Skyhawks takes place this week in Pueblo, Colo., where he will be in the high jump and 110-meter high hurdles events at the NCAA Div. 2 Championships.
He is seeded No. 13 nationally in the high jump (6-101/4) and is No. 18 in the hurdles (a school-record 14.24 seconds).
The high jump will be contested at 6:30 p.m. on Friday while the high hurdles preliminary race is later that night at 8:55, followed by the final on Saturday night at 8:05.
"It will be sad, but, hopefully, I'll be happy,'' said Thomas, who graduated last Sunday. "(Teammate) Nick (Staley, who is also in the high jump field) and I are planning to be All-Americans. I'd like to be a double All-American. That'd be a great way to go out.''
Thomas has earned All-America honors twice during the outdoor season, both in the high jump, and was a six-time All-America performer at the indoor meets (four in the high jump, two in the hurdles).
The criminal justice major was a Northeast-10 Conference champion six times each in the indoor and outdoor season during his career, won New England championships three times in the outdoor season and twice during the indoor season.
He earned All-New England honors 15 times, was the All-East Region field athlete of the year three times and received the NE-10 male athlete of the year award three times. Thomas' best indoor high jump was 7-3, and it was 7-11/2 during the spring.