West­lake’s Al­corn headed to Hous­ton

West­lake se­nior ea­ger to run un­der for­mer Olympian Lewis

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

Thomas Al­corn did not start run­ning track un­til the age of 12.

Six years later, he will have the op­por­tu­nity to run for for­mer nine-time Olympic gold medal­ist Carl Lewis at the col­le­giate level.

The West­lake High School se­nior sprinter made his col­lege de­ci­sion fi­nal, re­cently sign­ing his national let­ter of in­tent to run at NCAA Di­vi­sion I out­fit Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton for the men’s track and field team, who com­petes in the Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence.

Al­corn, who had a sign­ing cer­e­mony on May 17 in the West­lake au­di­to­rium, is ea­ger to train un­der Lewis, Hous­ton’s as­sis­tant coach and for­mer world­class sprinter, and head coach Leroy Burrell, both alma maters of Hous­ton.

“I didn’t know what track was un­til the sixth grade,” said Al­corn, who was one of 10 West­lake student-ath­letes to sign or com­mit to col­lege for a sport on that day. “I never ex­pected to run un­der an Olympian, it never came to thought. It is just a bless­ing to be in this po­si­tion and con­tinue to run track at the col­lege level.”

Al­corn had other Di­vi­sion I in­ter­ests from Duquesne Uni­ver­sity (Pa.), Uni­ver­sity of South Alabama, Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land, Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia and Uni­ver­sity of Mas­sachusetts. But af­ter going on the of­fi­cial visit to Hous­ton last Novem­ber he felt it was the right place.

He spe­cial­izes in the 400-me­ter dash where Hous­ton re­cruited him for, but will com­pete the 100, 200 and re­lay events to help build him up for the next few years with the Cougars.

“It is just an amaz­ing school and right in down­town Hous­ton,” said Al­corn, who has family in Dal­las. “The weather is hot all year long. It will be amaz­ing to be coached by two for­mer Olympic run­ners. They can lead me into the right di­rec­tion of de­vel­op­ing me in col­lege.”

Lewis, who com­peted in the 100, 200, long jump and 400 re­lay through­out his track ca­reer, was a 10-time world cham­pi­onship medal­ist. Dur­ing his two years at Hous­ton, Lewis was a six-time All-Amer­i­can, won six national cham­pi­onships and

nine in­di­vid­ual con­fer­ence ti­tles.

He first watched Al­corn dur­ing the AAU Ju­nior Olympics in Hous­ton last summer when he clocked a time of 47.79 sec­onds, his per­sonal best in the 400.

“We have one of the top pro­grams in the na­tion and we’re excited to have Thomas. He fits in our mold of de­vel­op­ing quar­ter-mile run­ners,” said Lewis, who is in his third year on coach­ing staff at Hous­ton. “When mother [Marye Pri­est-Al­corn] got in touch with me and I met Thomas, he had a great at­ti­tude and he has the abil­ity to grow.”

Lewis and the Hous­ton coach­ing staff plans on help­ing Al­corn reach his goals in col­lege and post-col­lege.

“Most ath­letes have their best per­for­mances post-col­le­giate, so when he gets to Hous­ton it is all about devel­op­ment and help­ing him be the best student in the class­room,” Lewis said.

Un­der the di­rec­tion of West­lake head track and field coach Beth Shook and

as­sis­tant Adano Mur­ray, Al­corn capped off his high school ca­reer as he claimed his sec­ond straight Class 2A state out­door ti­tle in the 400 in 48.74 sec­onds on Saturday at Mor­gan State Uni­ver­sity in Bal­ti­more. He helped lead the 800 and 1,600 re­lay teams to state crowns and fin­ished third in the 200. West­lake’s boys team took sec­ond in the meet, fall­ing to Cen­tury of Car­roll County by 2 1/2 points, just miss­ing a three-peat of state gold.

Al­corn helped the West­lake boys squad to back-to-back out­door state ti­tles in his sopho­more and ju­nior sea­sons and to an in­door state crown as a ju­nior.

He also was a two-time state run­ner-up in the 500 in in­doors.

“It was a great ride in high school track, coach Shook and coach Mur­ray helped build me so much in my ca­reer,” Al­corn said. “My goal is to im­prove on my craft and get ready for the stiff com­pe­ti­tion in col­lege.

This sea­son, Hous­ton men’s track swept the in­door and out­door con­fer­ence ti­tles for the sec­ond straight sea­son.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

West­lake High School se­nior sprinter Thomas Al­corn signed his national let­ter of in­tent on May 17 to the Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton to run for the men’s track and field team. Al­corn cap­tured his sec­ond straight Class 2A out­door state crown in the 400-me­ter run on Saturday at Mor­gan State Uni­ver­sity in Bal­ti­more. He also was a two-time state run­ner-up in the 500 in­doors.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

West­lake High School se­nior Thomas Al­corn signed his national let­ter of in­tent to run track at NCAA Di­vi­sion I Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton. Seated in the front row, from left, are Al­corn’s older sis­ter Asya Anderson, Thomas Al­corn and Al­corn’s mother Marye Pri­est-Al­corn. In the back row are West­lake as­sis­tant track and field coach Adano Mur­ray, left, West­lake strength and con­di­tion­ing coach Mar­lon Cur­tis, Al­corn’s older sis­ter Bri­ana Al­corn, West­lake as­sis­tant track and field coach Brian Wells, West­lake head track and field coach Beth Shook, West­lake ath­letic di­rec­tor Do­minic Zac­carelli and West­lake Prin­ci­pal Michael Meiser.

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