April 2, 2007
Florida State senior middle distance runner, Tom Lancashire, has accomplished pretty much everything possible in a collegiate career. The only thing missing from his résumé is an individual National Championship.
“I’d like to finish out my FSU career successfully and win an individual national title. That’s a big goal of mine for this year,” Lancashire said. “I think I can do it. I thought I could win it last year and I thought I could win it the year before that.”
Never before has a 1500m runner in Florida State’s history been as close to that goal as Lancashire. At last year’s NCAA Championship meet in Sacramento, CA, Lancashire came just 13 tenths of a second away from achieving it, finishing runner-up in the 1500m finals behind South Alabama’s Vincent Romo.
The four-time NCAA All-American (2005, 2006 indoor mile and 2005, 2006 outdoor 1500m) has also won five ACC Championships, ran the fastest 800m time of any collegiate runner in the country in 2006 (1:45.76), and holds the school record in the outdoor 800m, the outdoor 1500m, and the indoor mile run.
Lancashire arrived at FSU four years ago from Bolton, England. A successful runner in Great Britain, he was rather skeptical about coming to the United States to begin a collegiate career.
“It wasn’t an easy decision but I’m glad that I took it. I found out about a couple of people who had come to the United States on scholarship to run track, so I decided to look at it as a way of just going and experiencing something new. Coach Braman heard about me and started recruiting me. It seemed like a nice prospect to come and train in Florida,” he said.
“One of the first things I remember when I came was Coach Braman saying to me that we’re building quite a special program here and that you have the chance to be a part of something very big. And two years later, it happened with the National Championship. It’s a really great thing to be a part of and I’m really glad I was able to contribute to that,” Lancashire added.
The other major achievement of Lancashire’s 2006 outdoor season was running his first sub four-minute mile. His time of 3:58.52 at the Florida Fast Times meet in Gainesville, FL last season was the first time a runner in FSU’s track history has ever recorded a sub-four minute mile
“Since I started, that’s been a big barrier that I’ve tried to overcome, so personally, it was a really great moment for me to be able to break four-minutes for the first time,” Lancashire expressed.
So what’s in store after graduation for the most successful middle distance runner in Florida State history?
“For anyone in my sport, the Olympics are the big thing and 2008 has been my target for a few years now,” he said.
Lancashire has competed internationally before. He represented Great Britain at the 2003 World Cross Country Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland and finished 31st. He has also run a couple of 1500m races in World and European Junior Championships.
As a kid growing up in England, Lancashire was certainly ornery.
“I was always a clown in the class at school. They always told me I did the smallest amount of work possible to get by,” he said.
A diverse athlete at a young age, Lancashire played as many sports as he could as a kid, such as tennis, swimming, soccer, and even cricket. He began running when he was around 12 years of age, but didn’t focus on it until he was nearly 18. Claiming soccer as his favorite sport, he still follows the English Premier League back home.
“I watch it whenever I get a chance. My team is Manchester United,” he mentioned.
His passion outside of running, however, really lies in medicine.
“One of my goals is to get into medicine so I think I’ll probably go ahead and do that after running,” Lancashire said. “My major is exercise science. In fact, my original plan after finishing high school was to take a year off between high school and going to college, and that I was going to go to college for med school in England.”
Lancashire’s passion for running and his academic success in medicine has made him stand out among the nation’s top athletes. Both ESPN: The Magazine and CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) both named him a 2006 Academic All-American.
All of last year’s accomplishments and awards, both individual and team, have encouraged Lancashire, and his Florida State teammates, to train harder.
“I think everyone realizes that just because we won it last year has no bearing on what happens the next year. It’s not going to be any easier for us and we all realize that. In fact, as a defending National Champion you’re expected to train as one and the team seems to have become a lot closer as a result of it and as well as motivated to repeat the success and keep it going as long as we can,” he said.
The 2007 NCAA Outdoor Men’s Track Championships get underway with Regionals in Gainesville on May 25-26. The Finals will be again held at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex in Sacramento, CA from June 6-9.
With the bar now being set so high, the success of FSU’s 2007 squad, in the eyes of Lancashire and his teammates, will be largely determined by their performance in June in California. That is where they expect to continue Coach Braman’s vision of a “special program” and bring both a team and individual National Championship back to Tallahassee.