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New college track teammates accept Jaron Thomas and his painted nails

Openly gay hurdler finds a home at North Texas. Plus, LGBT college roundup

Jaron Thomas goes over a hurdle at the University of North Texas. Thomas joined the North Texas men’s track and field team after four years at the University of Colorado.
Edgar Sanchez / ArkonLabs Photography

DENTON, Texas — After four years competing at the University of Colorado, Jaron Thomas graduated and possessed one remaining season of indoor track and field eligibility.

Rather than wait to start his doctoral program at the University of North Texas and spend another year in Boulder, Colorado, he is finishing his athletic career in Denton, Texas.

“People always say that I’m a transfer athlete, but I always correct them. I graduated and really enjoyed my experience there,” said Thomas, who is studying for a doctorate in audiology. “I love UNT, but Colorado is my home for college track and field. It’s always going to feel like that to me, I think. UNT is just great athletically, and it’s going to be a second home for sure.”

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Thomas is off to a solid start with the Mean Green.

On Saturday, he took 12th in the 60-meter hurdles (8.25 seconds) at the Texas Tech Classic.

A week earlier in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he ran 8.21 seconds in the finals of the 60 hurdles to finish sixth — a race won by 2016 Olympian Devon Allen. Thomas ran 8.09 seconds in the 60 hurdles prelims, and his prelim time has him optimistic about breaking the North Texas school record of 8.0 seconds.

“Last year, I beat the school record three times, but I was at Colorado,” said Thomas, who came out publicly as gay in 2016. “I am confident in my ability to get there. It’s just a matter of when.”

For the Albuquerque meet, Thomas painted his fingernails with the UNT school colors of green and white. The 23-year-old Thomas ran all his best times at Colorado with his nails painted.

“I like to paint my nails in my own free time,” Thomas said. “Now, it’s a thing that I do when I’m feeling good about races. … It’s just become a mojo thing.”

Thomas doesn’t know of anyone else that is LGBT on the UNT track and field team, but the response to his nails being painted is the biggest sign of acceptance he’s received from his new teammates so far.

“My teammates all gave me compliments on it,” said Thomas, whose hometown is Midlothian, Texas.

Thomas expects to conclude his college career Feb. 18-19 at the Conference USA Championships, which will be his first indoor track and field conference meet since the Pac-12 Conference doesn’t have an indoor track and field championship.

“My ultimate goal is to break the school record and win a conference championship,” said Thomas, whose best result at the Pac-12 Outdoor Track and Field Championships was third place. “I would like to win Conference USA in the 60 hurdles, get some points for my team, and help out on the relay.”

You can follow Jaron Thomas on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter

Names in bold are people that have announced publicly they identify as LGBT. Results are for competitions that took place Jan. 15-28.

Division I

Jace Anderson (junior, Nebraska men’s track & field) finished 10th in triple jump (43 feet, 8 1/2 inches) at Saturday’s Air Force Invitational. On Jan. 20, Anderson took fourth in triple jump (47-9 1/4) to help Nebraska win the four-team Colligan Memorial.

Schuyler Bailar (junior, Harvard men’s swimming) and David Pfeifer (senior, Harvard men’s diving) helped the Crimson beat Rider and Bryant on Jan. 20. Pfeiffer took second in 3-meter springboard (359.55) and third in 1-meter (298.25). Bailar swam three events, and his best finish was fifth in the 200-yard individual medley (2 minutes, 1.29 seconds).

Philip Batler (sophomore, Brown men’s track & field) was not listed in the results for the last two meets.

Simon Carne (senior, Drexel men’s diving) and Anthony Musciano (sophomore, Drexel men’s diving) each earned a top-five finish at the Penn State Invitational on Saturday and Sunday. Carne took fifth in the 3-meter springboard (242.35), and Musciano finished fourth in the 1-meter (273.3). On Jan. 20 at Georgetown, Musciano returned from a back injury to compete for the first time in 2018, and he won the 1-meter (268.2). Carne took third in 1-meter (217.8) and won 3-meter (247.95), which Musciano did not compete in. On Jan. 17, Carne was named the CAA Men’s Diver of the Week for winning both springboard events Jan. 13.

Nile Clark (senior, Miami men’s tennis) was part of the Hurricanes going 1-2 to open 2018 season. Miami beat New Orleans and lost to No. 22 Tulane and No. 14 Mississippi State. Clark went 0-2 in doubles matches. He did not play singles.

Konrad Eiring (junior, Illinois men’s track & field) took third in the 600 meters (1:21.81) at Saturday’s four-team Illini Classic. On Jan. 20, Eiring finished second in the 600 in 1:20.17, a personal-record time, and he helped Illinois’ 4x400 relay take third at Nebraska’s Colligan Memorial.

Taylor Emery (junior, Virginia Tech women’s basketball) scored 30 points to go with seven rebounds, two assists, a blocked shot, and a steal in an 86-75 loss to No. 15-ranked Duke on Jan. 18. She also had 23 points in a 68-62 win against Georgia Tech on Jan. 25. Emery has scored 20 or more points 10 times this season. “Taylor has proven that she’s one of the better players in our league, and she’s a hard guard,” Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks said in a press release. The Hokies (14-8 overall, 3-6 ACC) went 1-3 the last two weeks.

Aidan Faminoff (sophomore, Florida State men’s diving) finished third in the 1-meter springboard (278.4) at Saturday’s dual meet with Florida Atlantic.

Bryce Fehringer (sophomore, South Dakota men’s swimming) swam three exhibition races Saturday against Western Illinois. On Jan. 20 against South Dakota State, he swam three events, and he took 10th in both the 100-yard freestyle (50.19 seconds) and 200 freestyle (1:54.16).

Connor Griffin (junior, Fordham men’s swimming) competed in two events Saturday against UMass with a fourth-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley (1:59.33). On Jan. 24, he took eighth in the 200 IM (2:06.79) against Iona. On Jan. 20 in a three-team home meet, Griffin competed in three events, and his best result was fifth in the 200 freestyle (1:50.5).

Emmonnie Henderson (redshirt senior, Louisville women’s track & field) won the shot put (55-11 1/4) at Saturday’s four-team Illini Classic, which the Louisville women won. She competed Saturday despite having injections Jan. 24 for a back injury. On Jan. 20 in the seven-team Notre Dame Invite, Henderson won shot put (55-0 1/2) and took second in weight throw (63-11 1/2). Henderson said she will be a graduate assistant coach at Tennessee State next year.

Bree Horrocks (redshirt junior, Vanderbilt women’s basketball), Kelly Komara (assistant coach, Vanderbilt women’s basketball) and Stephanie White (head coach, Vanderbilt women’s basketball) saw the Commodores (5-17 overall, 1-7 SEC) go 1-3 the last two weeks. Horrocks played in three of the four games, and her best game came with four points and three rebounds against Alabama on Jan. 21. Vanderbilt’s home game against Tennessee on Feb. 4 is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPNU at 2 p.m. ET, and the Commodores’ game at Auburn on Feb. 12 is scheduled to be broadcast on the SEC Network at 7 p.m. ET.

Ayrton Kasemets (senior, Oakland men’s swimming) helped the 200-yard medley relay win Saturday against Cleveland State, and he took second in the 100 breaststroke (57.47 seconds) and third in the 200 breaststroke (2:08.71). On Jan. 20, he took second in both the 100 breaststroke (57.04 seconds) and 200 breaststroke (2:06.51).

Johnny Kemps (sophomore, Boston men’s track & field) finished 38th of 165 runners in the mile (4:09.81) at Saturday’s Terrier Classic. On Jan. 18, he took fourth in the 1,000 meters (2:29.38) at Boston’s four-team Multi-Team Meet.

John Kim (senior, VMI men’s swimming) broke his own school records in the 100-yard backstroke (51.4 seconds), while helping VMI take fourth in the 400 medley relay, and 200 backstroke (1:52.83), where he finished second, during Saturday’s meet at Liberty. On Jan. 20 in a dual meet at East Carolina, Kim swam four events, and his best finish was fourth place in the 100 backstroke (52.65 seconds).

Dawson LaRance (freshman, Minnesota men’s track & field) and Brad Neumann (redshirt senior, Minnesota men’s track & field) competed Jan. 20 at the SDSU Invitational, where LaRance took fourth in the 600 meters (1:19.86) and Neumann finished third in the 200 (21.95 seconds) and ninth in the 60 (6.96 seconds). On Saturday, Neumann helped the 4x400 relay win at the Jack Johnson Classic.

Kennedy Lohman (sophomore, Texas women’s swimming) earned her first individual win of the season Saturday in her return to Arizona, where she swam last season. Lohman won the 200-yard breaststroke (2:17.02) in Saturday’s dual meet. On Friday, she competed in four events at Arizona State, and her best result was second place in the 200 breaststroke (2:15.52).

Justice Lord (junior, Barton men’s volleyball) and Michael Tyler (junior, Barton men’s volleyball) helped the Bulldogs (2-5 overall, 2-0 Conference Carolinas) go 2-2 the last two weeks with both losses to No. 5-ranked BYU. Lord had a total of eight kills in the four matches. Tyler played in two matches and accumulated three digs and one kill.

Michael Mitchell (freshman, Lehigh men’s track & field) took fifth in the 1,000 meters (2:41.53) and 11th in the mile (4:32.25), and he helped the 4x800 finish ninth Saturday at the 25-team Covert Classic. On Jan. 20, Mitchell took sixth in the 400 (55.8 seconds) in a dual meet against Lafayette.

Cory Moreno (senior, Old Dominion men’s diving) took fourth in 1-meter (272.7) and 3-meter springboard (235.88) on Jan. 20 at George Washington.

Susie Poore (freshman, Lehigh women’s track & field) took third in the 3,000 meters (10:02.11) at Friday’s Armory Challenge. On Jan. 20, she finished second in the 3,000 (10:17.07) in a dual meet against Lafayette.

G Ryan (senior, Michigan women’s swimming) took third in both the 500-yard freestyle (4:49.75) and 1,000 freestyle (9:45.16) during a four-team meet Jan. 20 at Ohio State.

Jack Thorne (junior, Northwestern men’s swimming) swam four events at the Minnesota Triple Duals on Friday and Saturday, and his best result was fourth place in the 100-yard backstroke (49.84 seconds). On Jan. 20 in a dual meet at Iowa, Thorne took third in the 100 backstroke (50.34 seconds) for the best result of his three events.

Nunzio Esposto (diving coach, Duke men’s & women’s diving) saw his men’s divers take the top four spots in the 3-meter springboard, the women’s divers grabbed positions two through five in both the 1-meter and 3-meter, and men’s diver Nathaniel Hernandez won the 1-meter as Duke had four of the top five in that event during Saturday’s dual meet against North Carolina.

Patrick Jeffrey (diving coach, Stanford men’s & women’s diving) guided the Cardinal’s women’s divers to win five of the eight springboard events during four dual meets the last two weeks. On the men’s side, Stanford’s divers won three of the four springboard events in the two dual meets the last two weeks.

Randy Lane (assistant coach, UCLA women’s gymnastics) watched the No. 4-ranked Bruins win Saturday’s four-team Metroplex Challenge, and UCLA won a dual meet against Arizona 197.3-195.75 on Jan. 20. The team’s meet against No. 1-ranked Oklahoma on Feb. 4 is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN at 4 p.m. ET.

Lee-J Mirasolo (assistant coach, Harvard women’s hockey) saw the Crimson (9-11-1 overall) go 1-4 the last two weeks. Harvard’s game against Colgate on Feb. 3 is scheduled to be broadcast on NESN at 3 p.m. ET.

Jesse Moore (assistant coach, Northwestern women’s swimming) saw the Wildcats go 1-2 in dual meets the last two weeks.

Cale Robinson (assistant coach, Stanford women’s gymnastics) experienced the No. 23-ranked Cardinal lose both its matches the last two weeks. The losses came against No. 11 Arizona State and No. 18 Oregon State.

Simon Thibodeau (head coach, UC Santa Barbara women’s tennis) led the Gauchos to a 2-2 record the last two weeks to start the spring season. The losses came against No. 16-ranked UCLA and No. 17 Miami.

Division II

Kylon Drones (senior, West Texas A&M men’s track & field) competed in four events at Friday’s Texas Tech Red & Black Open, and his best result was sixth in the 60-meter hurdles (8.3 seconds). On Jan. 20 at Gunnison, Colorado, Drones competed in five events and took third in the 60 hurdles (8.24 seconds).

Austin Shupp (senior, Shippensburg men’s track & field) won the 500 meters (1:08.02) for the best result of his four events at the Gulden Invitational on Jan. 20.

DJ Slifer (assistant coach, Texas A&M-Kingsville women’s basketball) saw the Javelinas (6-14 overall, 3-9 Lone Star Conference) go 2-2 the last two weeks.

Division III

Chris Cassingham (senior, Mary Washington men’s swimming) swam on a 200-yard medley relay that finished fifth Saturday in a dual meet at Gettysburg. On Jan. 20, he took second in both the 500 freestyle (5:05.98) and 1,000 freestyle (10:28.09) in a dual meet at St. Mary’s.

Kyle Davis (junior, Ithaca men’s track & field) finished fourth in the long jump (20 feet, 9 inches) at the Ithaca College Quad Meet on Jan. 20.

Alec Donovan (redshirt sophomore, Centenary wrestling) went 2-1 at Saturday’s Metro/NEWA Duals. He won by decision in a dual meet against TCNJ on Jan. 19.

Michael Drougas (senior, Oberlin men’s tennis) lost his singles and doubles match in Sunday’s season-opener at Cleveland State, which the Vikings won 6-1 against Oberlin.

Zach Greenawalt (sophomore, Juniata men’s track and field) is studying abroad and will not compete this spring.

Jason Hadley (junior, Mount Union men’s track & field) took 55th of 83 runners in the mile (4:44.14) at Saturday’s Midwest Indoor Invitational. On Jan. 19 at the OAC Split Meet, he helped Mount Union’s distance medley relay take third, and he finished 14th in the 1,000 meters (2:51.32).

Harrison Knowlton (junior, Middlebury men’s track & field) won the 5,000 meters (15:18.73) at Saturday’s 10-team Middlebury Invitational.

Nathan Matthews (junior, Wittenberg men’s volleyball) helped the Tigers (4-4 overall) go 4-3 the last two weeks. He started five of the seven matches. His best stats came when he had six kills and four digs in Saturday’s four-set win against Penn State-Behrend.

Tucker Meijer (junior, Amherst men’s track & field) finished fifth in the 5,000 meters (15:16.61) at Saturday’s 14-team Smith-King Invitational.

Isaac Reed III (junior, Denison men’s track & field) took fourth in the triple jump (41 feet) and fifth in the 60-meter hurdles (9.03 seconds) at Saturday’s Fighting Scots Invitational.

NAIA

Jaxon Cork (freshman, Clarke men’s volleyball) and Nick Clark (head coach, Clarke men’s volleyball) saw the Pride open the season with four consecutive wins. The three most recent wins led to Clarke winning the Judson University Early Bird Invitational. Cork did not play in the four matches.

NJCAA

Lexie Gerson (assistant coach, Harcum women’s basketball) saw the team go 2-0 in games that results were available for from the last two weeks.

Layne Ingram (head coach, Lansing women’s basketball) led the Stars (10-8 overall) to go 2-2 the last two weeks.

Erik Hall can be reached via email at hallerik7@gmail.com or on Twitter @HallErik or Facebook. If you are an out LGBT athlete or coach and want your accomplishments recognized, please email Erik.