Thad Wilson inducted into county Hall of Fame near Manhattan

Rockland County is in New York, and until a few days ago I didn’t know it had a Sports Hall of Fame. But when my M60 hurdle friend Thad Wilson was inducted in the hall Saturday night, I cheered from afar. The local paper profiled Thad in advance of the ceremony, and the best part was the photo attached. Is that not a studly prep or what? Despite being a world champ and WR holder, Thad is humble about his achievements. He says of his 10 world titles: “It means I’m fortunate. I’ve got the genetics to enable me to stay in shape.” Now it’s only a matter of time that he’s inducted into that other Hall of Fame: USATF Masters Track & Field.

Thad wore Adidas as we all did in that era, running over flip-up hurdles.

Thad wore Adidas as we all did in that era, running over flip-up hurdles.

Induction into the RCHOF is no slam dunk. here are the rules:

The Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame was established to honor outstanding sportsmen and sportswomen, living and deceased, who have gained prominence while residing or competing in, or have brought recognition to, Rockland County. To be considered for nomination to the Hall of Fame, candidates must meet the following criteria:

A. Attain prominence in sports as an athlete, coach, manager, official, owner, writer, broadcaster or supporter.

B. Reside or have resided in Rockland County, competed here at the time of their prominence, or brought fame to Rockland County as a result of their accomplishments.

C. Be a person of integrity and good character.

D. Candidates cannot be considered until 10 years after their high school class graduation, except in special cases.

Here’s the story, in case the link goes buh-bye:

This was just last month in Hungary, and he was moving fast down the indoor Budapest track, lifting his legs over the hurdles and crossing the finish line first at 9.11 seconds, 60 meters from where he started — another world championship.

That was Thad Wilson Sr., 63-year-old grandfather of five. He’s still thriving in the hurdles like he did in his teens, dominating for Nanuet High in the late 1960s. He loves the camaraderie with the masters-level athletes.

“That’s the best part of it,” Wilson said.

“Winning is good,” he added. “I enjoy winning. It’s nice to be able to push myself at this age and still be able to do what I’m doing. I get a kick out of watching people’s faces when I tell them that I run hurdles and I’m in my 60s. They’re like, ‘What?’ ”

The 10-time world masters champ in hurdling and relays has been a Californian since 1982. But Wilson will be back Saturday night where it all started, in Nanuet, for his induction into the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame at the Pearl River Elks Club.

“It’s a pretty big honor,” Wilson said. “I’ve looked at some of the people that are in there and there are people that I wouldn’t say I idolize but I knew were big-time athletes as I was coming up. It’s nice to be associated with them and put in that same class with them.”

Six county titles also helped get him there, two each in the 120-yard high hurdles and 180 low hurdles, plus two in the 880 relay. He was the first county athlete to

crack 15 seconds in the 120.

When he graduated in 1969, he had eight school records. And he was all-county in football as a safety.

“He was a tremendously hard worker,” said Dave Hanson, his track coach at Nanuet. “… And he loved what he was doing. He was an all-around team contributor, too.”

His World Masters Athletics title count reached double digits in Hungary after taking that 60 hurdles race and winning with his 800 relay in the men’s 60-64 division. He also owns a total of 30 national masters titles in hurdling, the long jump and the pentathlon. Plus, Wilson’s name is on two 60-64 world records, 14.37 in the 100 hurdles and 47.93 in the 400 relay, both set in 2011.

The retired naval officer works as the lead electrician on a ship that’s used for testing weapon systems. He decided to go into masters competition in 2002. There are eight to 10 meets per year on his schedule. And he’s a reigning world champion.

“It means I’m fortunate,” Wilson said. “I’ve got the genetics to enable me to stay in shape.”

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April 27, 2014

15 Responses

  1. Michael Daniels - April 28, 2014

    Congratulations Thad. I would have thought he was already in someone’s Hall of Fame. Thad is a great Hurdler with sprinters speed. He is also very good in the Pentathlon events. Glad I just turned 65 so I can possibly win a few races or get closer to the podium.

  2. Rick Riddle - April 28, 2014

    Congratulations to Thad. He deserves recognition for his many accomplishments! Not to mention his service to country.

  3. Marcus battle - April 28, 2014

    Wow I thought
    He was already in ours

    He’s a bad man

  4. Sully - April 28, 2014

    Mr Wilson,
    Another great accomplishent …..and such a nice guy ….always willing to share training methods …Maybe see you this weekend ..STRIDERS MEET
    Sully

  5. MICHAEL DE JESUS - April 28, 2014

    CONGRATULATIONS THAD!!!!!

  6. Peter Taylor - April 28, 2014

    @Marcus Battle (no. 3):

    Marcus, as an announcer you have to be very careful with someone like Thad. He’s so good, and he seems to have been around so long, that it’s easy to lose your focus and say that he is in the Masters Hall of Fame, but he is not. As far as I know I have never made that mistake.

    One of my favorite things to tell people who know track generally but not masters specifically is that Thad, at age 60, ran 14.37 in the 100. And he did it running over the hurdles!!

    The 14.37 for 100 at 60 is impressive to most people, but telling them that he did it with hurdles in the way puts the story over the top.

  7. Liz Palmer - April 28, 2014

    Thad’s present day hurdle form is just as good as it was “back in the day.” It’s always a pleasure to see him at a meet.

  8. Tom Tinsman - April 29, 2014

    Thad is truly amazing and its always a pleasure to compete with, and against him. Looking foward to competing against him this summer at the nationals.

  9. Bill Collins - April 29, 2014

    Thad, This is a wonderful honor, I along with all of the Houston Elite members are very proud of you. Running with you on relays at the worlds has been a joy, and we know that this is just one of the honors that you will be receiving in years to come. Best to you always for being a great athlete along with being a great man.

  10. Thad Wilson - April 29, 2014

    I thank all of you for your kinds words and thanks Ken for featuring this.
    One correction to the newspaper article; I am a United States Navy Master Chief Petty Officer in Retired Status, NOT a “retired naval officer”

    Thad

  11. Herb Stein - April 30, 2014

    The picture of Thad back in his high school days looks like he’s a whole hurdle ahead in the highs. Very impressive!

  12. Jeff Davison - April 30, 2014

    Well deserved.

  13. Robert Zahn - April 30, 2014

    Congratulations, Thad! Best wishes for continued success.

  14. Brian McKinley - May 1, 2014

    Way to go, Thad! It’s a pleasure to know you.

  15. Jim Broun - May 5, 2014

    Really enjoyed reading the well deserved press about Thad. I have always enjoyed competing with him and am envious of those “genetics” he spoke about! He is a class act and worthy of the kudos!
    Godspeed Thad!

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