Hurdler Nisa Thomas shatters records while setting goals on, off the track

For Hastings College senior Nisa Thomas, track and field has always been a part of her life — but the opportunity came to her unexpectedly at a young age.

“I joined track in middle school amidst joining other sports teams. It was because of the friends I had back then, they were on summer track teams, and that was the first time I had even heard of track and field,” said Thomas, who is a health systems major from Omaha, Nebraska.

For more about Thomas, check out the video below.

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Student athlete Nisa Thomas has set multiple hurdling records for the Broncos.

Taking a risk, Thomas tried hurdling and was instantly drawn to the event. Good hurdlers make it look easy — a fluid sprint and smooth form to clear the hurdle. But the speed, motion, take off, landing — the entire process — is much more complex and takes hours of work for the body to learn and make it seem so natural.

“I was never good at the start of a race. The constant losing, though, taught me determination and perseverance. For me there is always a lesson behind every loss, it’s whether you take that lesson and move on to make improvements,” Thomas said.

Thomas came to Hastings College knowing she wanted to set records and become a hurdling legacy — and pursue a medical-related field. In her first two years as a Bronco, she broke the school record for the women’s 100-meter hurdles and was a three-time GPAC champion for the event. But she didn’t stop there.

She recently broke the indoor 60-meter hurdle record, and then a week later she broke it again. She added a new record for the women’s 4×400 meter relay. And she has two All-American awards: one in the 60-meter hurdles and one in the 100-meter hurdles. Thomas was also recognized multiple times as women’s indoor track athlete of the week and the NAIA women’s indoor track athlete of the week.

Aside from being a trailblazer for the women’s track and field team, Thomas has other goals that don’t involve breaking records. As a health systems major, she said she hopes to pursue a career in the pediatric medical field.

“As a kid, I oddly found comfort in going to the doctors. I also love children. I believe they are a world of wonder because they are hardwired out of curiosity and they are willing to try new things every day,” Thomas said.

Reflecting on life off the track, Thomas credits hurdling to the two skills she believes are most important: perseverance and determination.

Perseverance for her is sticking to “the process” no matter what. Whether it was initial doubt about running collegiate track, passing her health classes and battling injuries, Thomas said quitting was not an option. She said determination in her day-to-day life has made a huge difference — whether that’s staying organized in order to complete tasks and staying on top of daily goals in order to stay on track to go into medical field.

Being a student athlete can be tough, from losing motivation to self doubt on the track and in the classroom. “I really appreciate the support of my coaches, but also faculty. For example, Dr. Rhesa Ledbetter and Dr. Brie Myre are my go-to professors that I can talk to about anything. It makes such a huge difference to know people are in your corner.” Thomas said.

Thomas said she is applying for medical programs at Creighton University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. However, she may not be quite ready to hang up her track spikes, as she dreams of continuing her track career and going pro. It may pose a big challenge – but as Thomas said, anything’s possible with determination and perseverance.


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