RENO — Tristen Thomson added another notch to his already-impressive belt of accomplishments.
The Fallon senior long distance runner was named a Top 10 Student Athlete of the Year in the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association Monday night at the Peppermill Resort.
“It’s definitely one of the highest privileges and honors I’ve received in my entire life,” Thomson said. “I wouldn’t be here without the love and support of everyone.”
Thomson, who finished third at last fall’s Division I-A state cross country meet and broke the 800-meter run school record last month, became the sixth Churchill County student-athlete to receive the award and continued the school’s streak of four. Allie Tedford was recognized in last year’s ceremony.
“He’s a warrior, a true warrior,” said Tristen’s father, Tommy, who coached him in cross country for the latter half of his career. “He’s a perfectionist. He’s not the easiest person to coach. He drives himself real hard.”
Without his parents’ support and countless trips over Donner Pass to compete in elite track meets, Thomson might not have been standing at the podium on Monday as he thanked his guests, including his parents Tommy and Summer, cross country coaches Lupe Cabada, Sarah Raitter and Mitch Overlie, and girlfriend Savannah Sweeney.
“It’s been almost just not real seeing him accomplish his dreams,” Summer Thomson said. “Through perseverance and dedication, he’s done it all on his own. He’s accomplished based on his internal drive and it’s nice to see that.”
And while Thomson’s running has helped cement his name in the record books as one of the school’s best long distance runners, his parents always stressed to focus on academics first.
“Patty Daum said that student comes first, then athlete,” Summer Thomson said of the Fallon volleyball coach. “It’s nice to see him work through the hardships in life – he almost died at 6 weeks. It’s nice to see him accomplish that.”
Thomson is having the best year of his career, which began with a third-place state finish. Thomson currently runs track and has powered Fallon’s long distance running team, competing in the 800, 1600 and 3200 runs as well as anchoring the 4x800 and distance medley relays.
But Thomson, like most, wasn’t sure about running when he arrived on campus as a freshman.
“Tristen was reluctant, like most youngsters,” said Overlie, who coached cross country and long distance in track. “He has a bright future. He’s so strong. He’s so smooth. I saw that as a freshman.”
Although he graduates next month, Thomson’s career will continue in the fall when he competes at Concordia University in Irvine, Calif. After working with his Fallon coaches including his father, Thomson and Steve Heck, as well as Cabada and Raitter, who coaches cross country at Damonte Ranch, Tristen Thomson will begin another chapter in his competitive career.
“The potential is what stood out and how coachable he was,” said Cabada, who started Reno Racing Company two years ago. “He wanted to improve.”
When he’s not running, Thomson is active in the school and community.
“It’s definitely a great thing to give back to the community,” Thomson said. “I looked up to Josh Mauga and Aarik Wilson. I wanted to give back. It’s a huge part of any of these successful athletes and in life.”
Thomson, who boasts a 3.44 GPA and ranks 13th out of 243 in his senior class, is a member of the National Honor Society and is the senior class vice president on student council, treasurer for Block F, president and communications officer of Young Democrats and is a board representative for Health Occupations Students of America. Thomson also volunteered at Homestead Health.
“Tristen has been very active in school activities, and he has been a proven leader among his classmates, earning their admiration and respect,” said CCHS Principal Kevin Lords.