Rush-Henrietta grad preparing for Olympic track and field trials |

Rush-Henrietta grad preparing for Olympic track and field trials

Rich Donnell
Created: June 11, 2021 11:24 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Faster, higher, stronger. It's the Olympic motto, but it's also the way by which one of the best athletes in Rochester history continues to excel. 

Lanae-Tava Thomas was All-State in track and field starting in 8th grade at Rush-Henrietta. Now, she hopes that her time in college has prepared her for the Olympics.

"I've definitely improved quite a bit physically and mentally," Thomas said.

 And that's saying quite a bit. Thomas was a four-time All-American in high school and won 11 State Championships while at Rush-Henrietta. She just finished her junior year at USC.

"Physically, my times speak for themselves,” Thomas said. “They've dropped significantly since high school, just taking me further than I thought I could be."

Thomas has flourished at USC. She qualified for the NCAA Championships in both the 100 and 200 meters and was also part of the 4x100 meter relay team that is seeded 2nd entering the NCAA Championships. But to be a part of Team USA in the Olympics, she'll have to compete against her relay teammates at the Olympic trials.

"I love them with all of my heart, but at the end of the day, we're competitors on the line at every event we go to," Thomas said. "We compete in practice, but it's not like there's any hostility. So, getting on a line and running against them, it'll be just like practice."

If Thomas makes the United States Olympic team, it won't be her first experience with international competition. After her freshman year, she won the 200-meter sprint at the U-20 Pan-American games. A crowd of family and friends greeted her at the Rochester airport then, and now she says that experience prepared her for the possibility of traveling to the Olympics.

"I guess it's good because I know what it is to travel and compete, so the whole jet lag and plane thing, we've dealt with that, it should come easier to me," Thomas said. "On top of that, running against people from all over the world, that helps, you see different cultures. It helps a lot that I've already competed internationally."

And maybe another international competition could be in the sights of Thomas. From dominating Section 5 track meets at Rush Henrietta to running with the best in the nation in college and possibly the best in the world at the Olympics.

Thursday night, Thomas qualified for the finals in the 100 meter, and her relay also advanced to the finals at the NCAA Championships. She also said that she hit the standard for the Olympic trials and said that will be the most competitive track meet she has ever been a part of. 

The USA track and field trials begin June 18 in Eugene, Oregon. If Thomas competes well enough at the trials, you'll see her on the global stage with the rest of the Olympians in Tokyo. Opening ceremonies are on July 23 right on News10NBC.

Copyright 2021 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company