MORGANTOWN — Jackson Snyder ran for Morgantown, while Jordan Thomas ran for University. When it comes to Monongalia County high school sports, there is no doubt one cannot wait to beat the other when competing against their cross-town rival.
It came to a head at the state cross-country meet last October, with the Hawks and Mohigans yet again dominating the Class AAA race, with both schools collectively finishing with five of the top six finishers.
Thomas crossed the finish line in 5th place, helping UHS to the team championship, while just four seconds behind, Snyder then crossed for 6th place for the team runner-up Mohigans.
Sticking close together throughout the race in Cabell County seemed like the perfect metaphor for what was to come for Thomas and Snyder. This week, both signed their letters of intent to go from rivals at MHS and UHS to teammates at Marshall.
Not only are they now teammates, both will board up together as roommates their freshman year.
“I have a good relationship with a lot of the UHS runners, including Jordan,” Snyder said. “We’re able to train together in the offseason and we get along really well. I’m super excited to team up with him at Marshall.”
North-central West Virginia has a long and successful history in distance running, claiming many team and individual state championships in cross-country and individual titles in the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs in track.
The Thundering Herd is the only men’s Division I cross-country or track program in the state, so a pipeline has sent a steady stream of Morgantown and University runners down to Huntington.
“The location, athletics and academics all come together to form the best option for me,” Snyder said. I was interested in them at the beginning of the summer and after talking to the coaches, I decided it was the right fit.”
Thomas echoed his future roommate, believing Marshall just felt right from almost every standpoint.
“It seemed like a good fit academically and athletically … it just felt like a really sound team and I liked it,” he said.
Although at different high schools, Thomas and Snyder took similar paths to running at the highest collegiate level. Both undersized, it took some adjusting early, but it clicked during their junior seasons.
“Junior year, I really started excelling in running,” Thomas said. “I wasn’t really as good freshman and sophomore year, but once I got to junior year, I really thought I could do this.”
A different approach to training an a mental adjustment was the biggest thing that changed.
“The only struggle is being motivated every day,” Snyder said. “It’s easy to work when you feel like it but it’s another to work when you’re unmotivated. That’s one thing I’ve grown with thanks to more self-discipline — working hard even when it’s difficult to.”