Get to Know: Texas Tech Track and Field’s James Thomas

He’s really good at his job.

The number of people who help make up an athletic team and an athletic department is pretty staggering. We’re going to highlight those people who are behind the scenes that help make things run as smoothly as they do.

You know who is really good at his job? James Thomas. Yeah, James Thomas. If I didn’t know any better, my guess would be that Thomas is essentially the head coach in waiting behind Wes Kittley That’s pure speculation on my part, but Thomas is so important to Texas Tech’s track and field program. Thomas has been a part of this program since 2012 and since then, it’s been like magic for him and this program.

Thomas is originally from Katy, Texas, earned a couple of degrees from Sam Houston State and a masters at Texas A&M Commerce. Thomas was a standout performer at SHSU where he qualified from the NCAA, was a Southland Champion, had 3 school record performances, and had 3 semesters where he carried a 4.0 (along with other accomplishments). His first coaching stop was at TCU for two years, 2005 and 2006, and then was at Kentucky from 2007 through 2012. At Kentucky, he helped the Wildcats to 3 SEC Championships, had 30 NCAA national qualifiers, and 12 All-Americans.

Then Thomas arrived at Texas Tech in 2013 and the rest has been magic.

  • 6 National Championships
  • 15 National Team Members
  • 66 NCAA All-Americans
  • 16 individual Big 12 Conference championships
  • 47 school records

And that’s just a start. I think that Thomas’ coming out party was 2015:

2015 was an historic year for Coach Thomas’ team. JaCorian Duffield and Bradley Adkins not only claimed first and second in the men’s high jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, but they duplicated their performances at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon. The duo became the first teammates since 1939 (Southern California) to go 1-2 at the outdoor championships and the first teammates to go 1-2 at both the indoor and outdoor championships in the history of the NCAA.

And this doesn’t even get into the national accolades for Thomas, who was named the Mountain Region Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year, had six Red Raiders earn 7 All-American performances.

And then the 2019 National Championship happened:

2019’s success was no less amazing than in previous seasons, with his groups contributing significantly to Tech’s second-straight Big 12 Championships sweep as well as the first NCAA Championship in the history of men’s sports at Texas Tech. His group contributed eight points to the title. Thomas’ 2019 saw seven All-America performances and two Big 12 individual titles during the outdoor season alone. During the indoor tilt, Thomas and his group recorded six more All-America honors in addition to two more Big 12 individual titles. Zarriea Willis cemented herself as the greatest female high jumper in program history, completing a sweep of the indoor and outdoor national titles, as well as the Big 12 titles. For the indoor campaign, Thomas was named the USTFCCCA Mountain Region Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year for the third time in four years. He was shortly thereafter selected to coach Team USA for the USA vs. Europe Match in September 2019 in Belarus.

It would be an understatement to say that he and Calvin Robinson and the backbone of the track and field teams (and I’m speaking ignorantly because I only know slightly of how important these guys are). From all appearances, Thomas is a really happy and joyful guy, at least based on his Twitter and he celebrates Texas Tech at every chance he gets.


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