Jumpin’ Jack Flash: Central’s Thompson makes history by winning three state track medals

May 25, 2024 - Charleston, Illinois - Jack Thompson flies down the runway in the Class 1A Triple Jump in Saturday's IHSA Boys' State Track & Field Finals. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

Camp Point Central's Jack Thompson takes off in the triple jump during Saturday's finals at the Class 1A boys state track and field championships in Charleston, Ill. | Photo courtesy Clark Brooks, PhotoNews Media

CHARLESTON, Ill. — The schedule for Saturday’s finals of the Class 1A boys state track and field championships didn’t afford Jack Thompson the time to take stock in all he was accomplishing.

It wasn’t until hours after he and the rest of the Camp Point Central athletes racked up a handful of medals that he could savor the day.

It’s also when Thompson learned he made history.

The senior jumper and sprinter won three medals at Eastern Illinois University’s O’Brien Stadium — top-seven finishes in the long jump, triple jump and 4×100 relay — to become the first Central athlete to win three state medals at a single state finals.

“I had no idea,” Thompson said. “That’s pretty cool.” 

In fact, he’s just the second Central athlete to win three state medals in a career as well. Nick Frese won medals in the triple jump three consecutive years — seventh in 2005, third in 2006 and ninth in 2007.

Thompson is the fifth Central athlete to medal in the triple jump at state in program history.

“It’s quite an honor to be able to do something special,” Thompson said.

As much as he values his success as a jumper, sharing the podium with his relay teammates meant more. The Panthers’ quartet of sophomore Curtis Rigg, senior Corbyn Cookson, senior Wyatt Schemerhorn and Thompson finished four in the 4×100 relay in 43.19 seconds.

The group qualified eighth in the preliminaries.

“It’s so great to see others enjoying the moment and celebrating the moment,” Thompson said after the Panthers medaled in the 4×100 for the first time in program history. “That’s as cool as anything that happened. I love seeing my teammates have success and being able to do great things.”

They simply followed his lead.

Field events at the state finals were scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. with relay events beginning at 11 a.m. Thompson competed in all three of his events before noon, doing the long jump and triple jump before the relay.

“I couldn’t worry about what had happened,” Thompson said. “I just had to move on to the next event. I didn’t give me any time to keep my head down or worry about what I felt I could have done better. I had to move on. I had to keep competing.”

Thompson started the day with the long jump, finishing seventh with a leap of 6.52 meters (21 feet, 4.75 inches). He hit his best jump on his final attempt.

He took third in the long jump with a leap of 13.66 meters (44 feet, 9.75 inches). His best jump came on his second attempt during Thursday’s preliminaries and carried over to the finals.

Although disappointed he didn’t jump better in the finals, Thompson took advantage of the moment to watch other jumpers and learn from their technique and approach. That included Edwardsville’s Malik Allen, who won the Class 3A championship with a leap of 15.39 meters (50 feet, 6 inches).

“Like they say, ‘The hay’s already in the barn,’ so it didn’t change anything I could do about my finish,” Thompson said. “But I saw some things I can use to make myself better.”

Schemerhorn became a two-time state medalist as he was part of the 4×200 relay team that finished ninth in 2022. This was Central’s third relay team to medal at state in the last five seasons as the 4×200 team took seventh in 2019.

Camp Point Central’s Corbyn Cookson takes off after receiving the baton from Curtis Rigg during the 4×100 relay Saturday in the Class 1A boys state track and field championships in Charleston, Ill. | Photo courtesy Clark Brooks, PhotoNews Media

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