Cross country coach trains for Olympics
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
By Stefanie Trent
Christian University recently hired two new coaches to head its cross
country program after 38 years under the direction of Randy Heath. Mark
Thompson joined Oklahoma Christian’s athletic staff last spring as an
assistant coach under new head coach Wayne Strohman.
One of Oklahoma’s most successful runners, Thompson graduated from
Edmond Memorial High School, where he ran to six state championships in
track and three state championships in cross country.
“His first race was in junior high and he won,” Thompson’s mother
Kathy said. “Then the high school coach took notice and recruited him.
He blew everyone away.”
After high school, Thompson attended the University of Arkansas at
Fayetteville. While there, he ran as a member of two national
championship teams, one in each sport. Despite the team’s success,
Thompson did not accomplish everything he wanted to at Arkansas.
“I had really high hopes and did not achieve like I thought I would due to some injury problems,” Thompson said.
Even as he helps coach Oklahoma Christian’s cross country teams, Thompson continues to work toward higher goals as a runner.
He still runs competitively and hopes to make the Olympic trials in
July. Then, he plans to run in Europe for a few weeks to compete and
try to improve his times.
“In June, at North American Milers Series, I ran a 3:43.63 in the 1500
meters,” Thompson said. “I am shooting for 3:43.00 for trials. I feel
pretty confident that I can make trials and possibly the Olympics.”
Thompson placed second with his effort in the North American Milers
Series and was only one second off the Olympic trials “B” standard of
3:43.0. He has also finished high in the Arkansas Invitational, the
Tulsa 15K run and the Dallas White Rock Half Marathon in 2006.
Before becoming an assistant coach for Oklahoma Christian’s track
and cross country teams, Thompson already served as a physics
instructor for the university.
After earning a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a Master of Arts
in Physics from Arkansas, Thompson taught physics at Fayetteville High
School for three years before joining Oklahoma Christian’s faculty.
Thompson returned to Edmond and became better acquainted with his
future wife Darci. They were married in August of 2006 after dating for
“We had a bunch of mutual friends and had met several times through college, but we never dated until 2004, “Thompson said.
Darci serves as Director of Admissions for Oklahoma Christian. She
graduated from Oklahoma Christian and has worked in the admissions
office for several years as a recruiter and now as the director.
He wants to begin his doctorate in the fall of 2008 at the
University of Oklahoma or Oklahoma State University while continuing to
“I have delayed getting my doctorate because of competitive running and I cannot do both effectively,” Thompson said.
Since he teaches classes in the morning and trains with the cross
country teams in the afternoon, Thompson said he still feels like a
college student sometimes.
“I am having a great time doing it and training with a team again,”
Thompson said. “In a way, I am still in college. I go to class every
day and practice every day.”
Thompson said he is very excited about helping out with the cross
country team this year. He and Strohman feel they have a strong team
and hope to make a run at nationals.
The Eagles and Lady Eagles have two meets remaining before the NAIA
National Championships. Their next race will be Oct. 13 in Winifield,