Return to the Top – Jason Thormo

Bryce Mandala, Sports Editor

The summer of his Freshman year going into his Sophomore year, Jason Thormo was confronted at home by his mother, informing him of a text message that she received from one of Jason’s life-long friends, Bobby Cayet.

His now relay partner, and fellow state-qualifier, decided to reach out to one of the biggest influencers in Jason’s life, his mother. “I texted her saying, ‘you’re bringing him to track camp this summer’…she made him come after that,” quotes Cayet.

Less than two years later, Jason found himself atop the IHSA Track and Field state podium for the 400 meter race down at Eastern Illinois University.

Anyone who knows Jason, would know that he’s just always been the naturally-born “fast kid” throughout elementary and middle school, whether it was through organized sports, or in the yard with his friends, Jason has always seemed to perform a step above the rest.

On top of being blatantly absent and not a part of the team his Freshman year, his Sophomore year also ended prematurely due to a case of Mononucleosis (Mono).

The Spring of 2018 was Jason’s first full season of high school track.

And he won state with a time of 48.18 seconds.

Not only to be crowned as the fastest 400 meter runner in the state for Class 3A, but to have only half a season of Varsity track experience under his belt is even more remarkable.

Jason wasn’t the only person to place at state from the boys team last spring. Now senior, previously mentioned Bobby Cayet also made the trip down to Charleston, individually.

Cayet, not satisfied with the outcome of his race, but still managing to take home ninth place overall in the 300 meter hurdles as he did a full somersault on the second-to-last hurdle in his lane at 42.03 seconds.

Bobby is now looking to bounce back for his senior season, hoping to return to state and have it result in a better outcome.

As insane accomplishment as it is to win a state, with Grant’s decorated and storied track program, it’s not anomaly for a state champion to roll through.

In fact, the most recent came from not too long ago, 2016 graduate Octavian Wells. Octavian won in the same event as Jason did, the 400 meter dash, and finished in an astonishing 47.07 seconds. Octavian took the dub by a landslide as well as shattering the school record.

Jason has a ways to go if he wants to surpass that milestone of over a second, but then again, Octavian accomplished that feat at the end of his senior year, Jason still has roughly two more months left of his senior season in order to train to try and beat Octavian’s time, not accounting for all of the work he’s already put into the offseason.

Although, Jason does have one apparent upside that sets him apart from other state champions, and that’s his versatility.

Head Varsity Boys Coach Nick Nenni touches a bit on that, “He’s capable of running basically anything you throw him in, he came in and started out running 800 meter races, and then we progressed him down to 400 meters, which is where he really hit his stride and eventually won state. Now we even see him running in events such as the 60 meter sprint, where he broke the school record just this past weekend…it’s impressive to see somebody so successful at such a wide range of events and distances.”

Moving into the future, as Jason won as just a Junior, he’s obviously trying to defend his state title again as a Senior.

Achieving back-to-back state titles is an extremely rare occurrence in any sport or state, it’s something only a select few individuals can say they’ve accomplished in their lifetime. “It’s been a very long time since someone in 3A has gone back-to-back in the 400 meter, at least over a decade.”, quotes Mr. Nenni.

Before even thinking about repeating, Jason admits that last seasons finish is still surreal, “It still hasn’t hit me yet, the first question that I was asked after was ‘do you know how this is going to affect you?’…I just said that I probably won’t know for a long time, and to this day it still hasn’t hit me.

Just a couple weeks ago, Jason signed his letter of intent to continue his academic and track careers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

A true reflection of the pure talent he obtains and the hard work he’s put in over the years, whether it was in the classroom or on the track.

There’s no doubt that he’s going to do great things at the collegiate level, as well as this season and in future endeavours.