EUGENE, Ore. — University of Iowa senior Brendan Thompson has been here before, but never like this.
Thompson is set to compete in the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon, from June 7-10 for the first time in his career.
“This is a feeling that all the hard work has finally paid off,” Thompson said. “Everyone always preaches ‘trust the process’ and if you work hard, great things will happen. For a while I wasn’t sure that was the case, but I can finally say hard work does pay off and I get to fulfill my dream of competing at Hayward Field.”
Thompson and his 4×100-meter relay teammates sophomore Christian Brissett, junior O’Shea Wilson, and senior Aaron Mallett set the sixth-fastest time at the NCAA West Preliminary in Austin, Texas, with a time of 39.22 seconds to qualify for Eugene. That mark is the second-fastest time in school history.
“Our expectation is to make the final (in Eugene),” Thompson said. “We know we can do it and we need to have clean exchanges. We haven’t had a clean race yet.”
A fifth-year senior, Thompson will compete for the final time as a Hawkeye this week. In 2015, Thompson was on the NCAA-qualifying 4×100 relay, but was bumped to an alternate at the final meet.
“That killed me,” he said.
Instead of Thompson, James Harrington ran the third leg in Eugene as Iowa finished 12th. Thompson has had a chip on his shoulder since.
“I understand that you want the fastest guy on the relay and I could sleep at night knowing that, but the whole thing was that I qualified and didn’t run,” Thompson said.
Since then, Thompson committed to not missing another opportunity.
“These last couple years I have been developing as a sprinter and doing everything like my diet, sleep, and making good decisions to make that relay,” Thompson said.
Thompson and the men’s 4×100 will make their fifth consecutive appearance at the NCAA Championships with the highest finish coming in 2013 and 2014 where the Hawkeyes placed sixth.
Moving forward, Thompson and his team have set their sights on place rather than time.
“There is no time we are thinking of,” he said. “We are going for a place and once we get into the final, anything can happen.”
Catch the men’s 4×100 in the NCAA Championships semifinal Wednesday at 4:32 p.m. (CT). The meet will be streamed on ESPN3 and will be televised Wednesday on ESPNU, beginning at 6:30 p.m.