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IHC’s Thompson looks to sock it to competition

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Gabby Thompson shouldn’t be too difficult to spot at this Saturday’s state high school cross country championships.

She will be the only runner in Immaculate Heart Central gear, as is the case at all of her meets.

If that doesn’t help, look for the girl in bright green socks, or the girl walking around in a set of onesie, footed pajamas before and after the race.

The IHC junior, who ran with the Watertown High School team this season, is one of several local competitors that qualified for this Saturday’s state meet at Elma Meadows Golf Course and Park, near Buffalo.

She will compete in the Class D race, tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m., after placing third last Saturday at the Section 3 finals.

As she enters her third consecutive state championship race, Thompson has tried to keep her routine as normal as possible this week.

“Sleeping, eating, running, repeat,” Thompson said. “I think you need to keep it at, it’s just a normal week.”

Keeping things normal — in Thompson’s world — includes making sure her lucky green knee-high socks are just as prepared for the race as she is.

She wears the socks for the cross country and track and field seasons, a tradition that started when she was a freshman.

“I wear them every meet. They still have very big holes in them so I have to wear other socks over them,” Thompson said. “They are my lucky socks, I don’t race without them. I think this is their seventh season of sports use, so I don’t put them in the dryer because the goal here is we want to preserve these as long as possible.”

Thompson said that luck isn’t the only reason she still wears the socks, after three-plus years of wear and tear.

“If you wanted a logical reason, I’m vertically challenged. So when you’re looking in a crowd and you can’t see me up here, look down. You’ll find the socks,” said Thompson, who described herself as “5-foot-1, on a good day.”

Thompson said that the footed onesie was added to her race gear about halfway through this season, and she was able to get Cyclones’ runner Kayla Blair in on the fun.

Watertown High School coach Jessica Blair said that Thompson passed more along to her teammates this season than entertainment and wardrobe suggestions.

Thompson was elected as a team captain prior to the start of the season, despite her times not counting toward Watertown’s team results.

Thompson, Blair said, gave the team motivational speeches before races and shared her knowledge of race preparation and offseason work.

“Gabby’s an extremely self-motivated individual,” Blair said. “She is addicted to running, I don’t know of a runner that works as hard as she does.”

Thompson will enter the race ranked No. 10 in the state. She finished 17th in last year’s state Class D race, and placed 30th at the state meet in Washington as a freshman.

Thompson, whose father is in the military, moved to the area with her family in July 2011. She previously lived in Iowa, Maryland, Hawaii and Washington.

Thompson said that the family expects to re-locate after the school year, and as a result, Thompson’s high school resume could include four state races in three different states.

But right now, the only location on Thompson’s mind is that golf course in Buffalo that she will visit on Saturday.

“You just got to say ‘All right, I’ve trained all summer and put a lot of miles in to get where I am and don’t get nervous,’” Thompson said. “It’s going to be fun.”

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