Blackfoot’s Thomas signs with College of Idaho

Derek Thomas raises the baton in celebration after anchoring Blackfoot’s boys 4x400 team to victory at the 2017 4A District 5-6 championships at Ravsten Stadium.

The second athlete ever to win three consecutive 4A boys 800-meter state titles in Idaho will continue to compete at the college level.

Recent Blackfoot graduate Derek Thomas signed his letter of intent on Sunday with the College of Idaho’s track and field program. He chose the College of Idaho over Idaho State, waiting to get accepted into both schools and taking a week to make his decision.

ISU, where both of Thomas’s parents ran collegiate track, had been in touch with Thomas earlier during his senior year and College of Idaho reached out to him through his dad, Roger, about meeting during the 4A state championships in Boise. Thomas said he chose College of Idaho due to its quality academics as well as its track program.

“They just set up a meeting to talk to me at the state meet,” Thomas said Wednesday by phone. “The coaches said all the right things. Really good coaching staff, a good program going on. You can get a really good eduation from C of I. It was a tough decision.”

The College of Idaho’s tuition is $30,000 per year and Thomas said he will have $25,000 per year covered through scholarships. Although he signed in the summer as opposed to the signing period in the spring, he will be able to compete in indoor and outdoor track for the Yotes during the upcoming academic year. He said he will be practicing with the cross-country team, but he is not sure if he will compete in cross-country for the Yotes.

Thomas said the Yotes coaching staff want him to continue competing in his signature event, the 800, and potentially the 1,500, 400 and various relays. Thomas has been in the habit of competing where needed throughout his Blackfoot career, competing in four relays as well as the 800 this past spring. In previous seasons, he competed in the 400, 1,600 and various relays.

He ended his Blackfoot career with a bang, winning the 800 six times and running sub-1:59 five times including a personal best and No. 5 Idaho all-classification time of 1:56.97. He anchored Blackfoot to a 4A state title in the medley relay in 3:34.91 and won the 800 the next day in 1:58.29 to join Twin Falls’ Erik Harris as the only Idaho boys to win three consecutive 4A state 800 titles. He also competed in cross-country, reaching state three out of four years. He did not compete his sophomore season due to recovering from surgery.

Signing with the Yotes fulfilled Thomas’s childhood ambition to compete in college, and he expressed gratitude.

“It’s a blessing,” Thomas said. “I’m excited to get to work.”