Ruston's Thomas Rogers Wins D1 3200m In Dramatic Fashion!


As far as Ruston head coach Dustin Cochran is concerned, the best storytellers in Hollywood could not have come up with a better script for Bearcat senior Thomas Rogers to win the first state championship of his career. It happened Saturday night at the Carl Maddox Fieldhouse in the LHSAA Division I State Indoor Meet 3200m. Rogers used a furious kick in the race's last 150 yards and was able to slip by Brother Martin's Daniel Falk just before he reached the finish line.

Roger's time of 9:33.81 was .07 better than Falk's.

Cochran is not one to say "I told you so," but he couldn't help himself Saturday night after the race as he reminded Rogers of a conversation the two had before Rogers was even enrolled at Ruston.

It was a foregone conclusion Rogers would be a Bearcat. His uncle was on the state championship team in 2000 for legendary Ruston coach Dave Anderson.

"I called Dave up and told him about Thomas and how he was the fastest kid in middle school," Cochran recalled. "He knew who Thomas was and told me that he was going to be a kid who was super proud to be a Bearcat and if anyone said anything bad about Ruston he would punch them in the face."


The first part of Anderson's prediction has come true. As for the second part, thankfully, nobody has spoken ill of the Bearcats around Rogers.

Before Saturday's state championship, Cochran asked Rogers who was the best runner in the D1 3200m field. 

"He said (Brother Martin's) Michael Mooney," Cochran said. "I asked him if anyone else goes out to the front is it going to change anything you are going to do? He said 'no'."

As the lead runners began to separate from the rest of the field. Mooney was out in front. His teammate Daniel Falk was right there with him. Rogers and Mandeville's Max Jacketti followed. 

With 600m to go, Cochran yelled at Rogers to make a move. And he did, moving in front of Mooney and Falk. However, he was not able to maintain the pace and the Crusaders passed Rogers and began to widen the gap.

With about 150 meters in the race, it was like a switch was flipped for Rogers, who found another gear.

"At that point, to be honest, I thought I was out of the race," Rogers said. "I really didn't think I could catch them," Rogers said. "I was like...this is my last state indoor meet, I might as well give it everything I have."

As Rogers came around the final turn and saw the two Brother Martin runners in front of him, the idea of winning a state championship seemed possible.

"I thought I had a chance to get up there," Rogers said.

Summoning every fiber in his body, Rogers was able to slip past Falk to win the state championship. A four-year old goal for Rogers had been achieved.

"I couldn't believe it," Rogers said. "It wasn't until I heard the announcer say it over the public address system that I knew I had won."

It was a sweet victory for Rogers...and his coach.

"Ever since I told him we were going to win a state championship, he has listened and learned," Cochran said. "Every year we have gotten a little closer to the goal. Every year we learn something and take that with us into the following year. For him to win it the way he did this year, it was very, very, satisfying."

Rogers has not only been getting it done in the Ruston cross country and track and field program. He has been getting it done in the classroom as well. It was announced earlier this year that he is one of three National Merit Finalists at Ruston High.

"It's really neat," Rogers said of the academic honor. "It's another thing I have worked hard for. It's cool to be one of the top students at the school."

With one goal behind him, Rogers will now turn his attention to his final outdoor season at Ruston High School.

"I'm looking forward to running in some cool races and running fast," Rogers said. "It's my last chance to show that if you train hard, it pays off."

His first chance to demonstrate that will come at Catholic's Pete Boudreaux Invitational on Saturday, March 9th. 

No matter what else he is able to accomplish in the last ten weeks of his high school career, the thing he will miss the most about being a Bearcat is the people.

"I'm going to miss my teammates," Rogers said. "Just hanging out everyday and having fun. It' a great atmosphere."