Former DSU jumper helping develop talent at MSU Moorhead
MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Michael Thompson at first resisted competing in the triple jump, not embracing the event until his final year in college.
The triple jump turned out to be his best event as he won a gold medal in the triple jump at the Central American Games last April.
"That is the first time my parents ever got to see me compete," Thompson said as those games were held in his home country of Panama. "It was just a really special day."
An assistant coach for Minnesota State Moorhead, Thompson thinks one of the Dragons athletes he coaches also has big potential in the triple jump.
While MSUM sophomore Laquone Robinson first made his mark with the Dragons in the hurdles, his excellence is spreading to other events. Robinson won a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference outdoor championship in the 110-meter hurdles last spring. Robinson added a NSIC indoor heptathlon title in February.
The Dragons are slated to compete at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, later this week and Robinson will run on MSUM's 400 relay team.
"Laquone is good when he has time to put his mind into things," MSUM head coach Keith Barnier said. "He's relevant in everything that he does."
That's why Thompson feels Robinson is only going to get better in the triple jump.
"Being able to hurdle and run is his biggest asset in jumping so he doesn't lose any momentum in the jump and that's the biggest thing," Thompson said. "I actually see him probably within the next two weeks going 49 feet or around there. ... As long as he continues to learn in these next two years the sky's the limit."
Robinson longest triple jump during the indoor season was 46 feet, 6¾ inches. He hasn't competed in the event outdoors yet this spring.
Thompson was also a gifted track athlete in college. He started his college career at Texas-Arlington and spent his final two seasons (2007-08) at Dickinson State.
Thompson was part of two NAIA national runner-up team at Dickinson State and also holds Panama's record for the triple jump.
"Michael is really calm and he is a good influence on all the kids," Barnier said. "He is a winner. That is why I brought him in."
Thompson said he didn't start to triple jump until college and didn't take the event seriously until his senior season at DSU.
"I decided to be a jumper and stop resisting," said Thompson. "It came pretty natural to me. My first love is the 400 and 800 meters."
Thompson's crowning track achievement was his gold medal at the Central American Games. He got to meet Panama President Ricardo Martinelli a couple days after that victory.
"I thought he was a good athlete before he even won that," Robinson said of Thompson. "Knowing that he won that makes it a lot better and he can help me with a lot of things."
While Robinson's goal is to earn All-American status in both the 110 and 400 hurdles this spring, Thompson is also helping Robinson reach his top potential in the triple jump.
"He's really helped me with my (technique)," Robinson said. "I had no form before I came here and now it's starting to get better."
Thompson feels fortunate to be able to work with an athlete as gifted as Robinson.
"He's a good guy to work with," Thompson said. "The fact that he can do so many events well is such a blessing and he brings the right attitude every day."
Peterson is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.