Jonesboro Freshman, Lauren Thompson, is on a Path to History

At the Arkansas Cross Country State Championships last fall, freshman Lauren Thompson from Jonesboro High School stunned the state with her 6th-place finish. For those in Jonesboro, however, it might have been much less of a surprise.

Across nine races in 2023, Thompson had picked up three wins in her debut high school season. In addition, the freshman sensation ran an 18:46.65, the 4th fastest time in her class, at the Arvest Bank Blazer Invitational.

Before the fall season, Thompson enjoyed a very successful junior high career at Valley View, winning several showcase races at the USATF Arkansas Junior Olympics and NEA Junior High Championships over the 800m, 1,500m, and 1,600m disciplines.

Last spring, Thompson won 11 of her 13 races across the three disciplines, which included a perfect 7-7 record in races over 800m. Now with the next outdoor season on the horizon, Jonesboro's rising star has her eyes set on a brand new pair of goals.

As Thompson makes the full transition to high school competition, two of the goals the freshman has her sights set on the Jonesboro school record in the 1,600m and the elusive sub-5 minute mile mark.

Sara Steimel, the current 3K school record holder at the University of Central Arkansas and Jonesboro alumni, is the current 1,600m school record holder at Jonesboro, having run 5:10.15 on April 26th, 2019.

Thompson's personal best time currently sits at 5:24.75 and with a whole year of training under her belt and four more track seasons to do it, the 14 seconds between Steimel and Thompson feels, almost, insignificant.

As far as the mile record goes, it does not worry Thompson. While it is a small goal of hers, it is not the end-all, be-all, and is not something she is putting too much focus on at the moment.

This fall, when asked about her goals this season after the cross country state meet, she said her primary goal is to "keep running PRs and running better and better over the season."

Most recently, Thompson finished 10th at the Arkansas Indoor State Championships in the 1,600m, taking down some of the fastest runners in the state.

Jonesboro is expected to open their season on March 7th at Harding University, which will be the first of many chances Thompson has at Steimel's school record. But until then, getting better and running personal bests will do the trick.