Anyway you look at it, you’d have to say that Timberlane senior Tom Sullivan is a fast learner.
A rookie member of the Timberlane track team, he didn’t know what to make of the starting blocks the first time he was asked to run the 55-meter dash in a meet.
“I really didn’t know how to set them (blocks) up or how to use them,” said Sullivan. “Some guy on another team told me what to do.”
Undeterred, Sullivan won the event and his time was good enough to qualify for this week’s state meet.
“Then the next practice, coach (Christian) Lizier told me I’d better learn what I needed to do when I started,” he said.
Sullivan has been one of the surprises of the year in New Hampshire track. An All-Area soccer goalie for the Owls in the fall, he decided to stop playing basketball for the first time in almost 10 years so that he can prepare for college soccer.
“I wanted to spice things up,” said Sullivan. “I want to play soccer in college and I thought this would help me get stronger and faster.
“I thought about doing it last year, but I love playing basketball and I wanted to stick to it at least one more year. I’ve been playing it my whole life.”
Also a volleyball player in the spring, the Timberlane coaches inserted Sullivan into the long jump and high jump to take advantage of his leaping ability. He immediately responded with an 18-2 mark in the long jump and a 5-6 clear in the high jump.
The coaches soon noted Sullivan’s quickness and he responded with state-qualifying times of 6.5 in the 55 and 38.3 in the 300 while also anchoring the Owls’ sprint relay team. He was the 55-meter champ at the Seacoast Meet.
Now he wonders what might have been if he had begun his track career earlier.
“I was talking to coach Lizier about that,” said Sullivan, a resident of Sandown “I wish I could have done this all four years. I’d be faster and I’d know the technique better for the high jump and long jump.”
For his part, Lizier believes that Sullivan would be far more advanced with just a little more of a track background.
“He’s about a raw a talent as there can be,” said Lizier. “Right now, he’s slow coming out of the blocks because it’s so new to him but, after that, he’s one of the fastest sprinters in the state.
“There have been a lot of coaches come up to me and wonder where he came from. Who knows how good he’d be if he had even one more year of experience.”
Sullivan believes that the training and competing have already paid off in regard to his preparation for college soccer. But, just as important, he’s having a heck of a good time.
“I like it (track) a lot,” said Sullivan. “I even asked the coaches if I can double sports (track and volleyball) in the spring. If they let me, I’ll definitely try to do both.
“It’ll be a really busy time of year because I’ll be playing with my Seacoast team in soccer, but it’d be great if I can do it all.”
Looking ahead, Sullivan has applied to a number of colleges where he could play soccer, with UMass Lowell the frontrunner. Wherever he winds up, Sullivan is sure that his limited time in track will have paid big dividends.