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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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Longtime Aggie track coach leaves behind rich legacy

Charlie Thomas, Texas A&M’s track coach from 1959 to 1990, died Monday in Bryan at the age of 83.
Thomas leaves behind a long legacy at Texas A&M, including 22 NCAA individual champions, 105 All Americans, five Olympic medalists, four top-10 team finishes at the NCAA Championships and three decades of service to this university and the athletes he mentored.
“He was a very well respected guy,” said head track coach Pat Henry. “He was in it a long time. He got old in the sport. All the coaching community is blessed to have men like him around because it puts things in perspective. Athletics is only part of young people’s lives. It’s not the end and it’s not the catch-all.”
Thomas did indeed grow old in the sport where he crafted his legacy, making a name for himself as a competitor before he took the reins as a coach. Thomas accumulated five individual state championships in high school before accepting an offer to run track for the University of Texas. He was equally as prolific for the Longhorns, where he excelled in the 220-meter dash and sprint relay. During his time on varsity, Thomas never lost a 220-meter race in the state of Texas.
Thomas even tried his hand at representing his nation. He placed fourth at the 1952 U.S. Olympic trials in the 220 meters, one place short of qualifying. In 1954, he spent time ranked No. 1 in the world in the event. Thomas was unable to attend the following Olympic trials, having relinquished his amateur status by accepting the head coaching position at East Texas State University — now Texas A&M University-Commerce — in 1956.
Three years later, in 1959, Texas A&M made Thomas its head track coach at the age of 28. He would go on to hold that position for the next 32 years, coaching eight world and American record holders during that time. Thomas was inducted into the A&M Hall of Fame in 1996. Thomas never stopped following the sport he loved and remained close to the program even after his retirement.
“Charlie was a great athlete and coach, but just as important as that he was also a true gentleman and leader within our sport,” Henry said. “He was a great Aggie who loved Texas A&M. He will never be forgotten in the track and field world and will live on here at Texas A&M for being the coach and man he was for his athletes and this institution.”

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