Athlete of the month: Thomas Saggau ’17
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After his first attempt of three during the triple jump event on Feb. 16 at LT, Thomas Saggau ’17 was anything but impressed with his score of 46 feet, which was five inches less than his personal practice record. Despite being disappointed, this distance was enough to shatter LT’s previous triple jump record.
“After my first jump, I knew I needed to step it up,” Saggau said. “My teammate was actually the one who told me I broke the indoor record. I was happy, but I wasn’t jumping up or down or anything. Regardless, it’s definitely a good feeling.”
As it once stood, LT’s triple jump record was 44 feet seven inches. Saggau set the new school and personal record after his second attempt at the Feb. 16 meet as 46 feet 10.5 inches, a distance that not only breaks the indoor but also outdoor triple jump record.
“It wasn’t really a surprise for the team with Saggau taking the triple jump record,” teammate Robert Hatch ’17 said. “With his dedication and motivation we knew that he was going to go after it this year.”
After starting to compete in track and field as a fifth grader at St. Francis Xavier, Saggau has continued to showcase his commitment and overall investment in the sport by performing in the triple jump, long jump and 4×200 relay events. That dedication unfolded in indoor conference, where he placed third in state for triple jump and first in conference for the 4×200 relay.
“Thomas is so important to the track program because he shows big time leadership,” Coach Sheldon Harris said. “He knows exactly what needs to be done, both on a personal level and as a team. A lot of times we don’t have to address something because he’s in sync with us, with knowing what needs to be done as a leader. He’s very smart.”
Saggau credits his success to all his coaches and teammates, especially Adam Schaufelberg ’15, who is now a shot putter at Illinois State University, for motivating him to work hard on and off season.
“I remember when I was a freshman and Schaufelberg was a junior,” Saggau said. “He was just an average shot putter, but in his senior year he worked really hard in the off season and ended up breaking our school record and getting second in state,” Saggau said. “I wanted to mirror that, his work ethic and achievements, and strive for that goal like he did.”
By practicing throughout the summer with U.S.A Track and Field as well as Zephyrs Track Club, Saggau had a continuation of his season. Until fall, when he increased his offseason practices to five days a week, emulating the intensity seen within the winter and spring track and field season.
“With the amount of work he put in personally over the summer, to be able to see that materialize, to see that all to happen, it was a great feeling,” Harris said. “Not only does he set a personal record by three and a half feet, but he breaks the record in the midst of it.”
The impact this sport has had on Saggau is undeniable, seeing as though it has made him more competitive and allowed for a stronger relationship with his father to form, Saggau said.
“Track really gave me and my dad something to bond over since he took me to the Junior Olympics and always came to my meets,” Saggau said.
As for the competitive spirit, Saggau believes it started in seventh grade, when he finished second in the championship meet for triple jump.
“Since a young age I always expected more of myself and it drove me to try and unlock my full potential,” Saggau said. “After taking second place, my mom was so happy for me but I was just so bummed it wasn’t first place. Ever since then, I look back and that’s probably where my competitive nature, always driving to be number one, began. I did end up going back eighth grade and winning.”
It is that same tenacity, determination and focus that contributes the most to his success, Harris said.
“He is so self-driven, very humble and hard on himself,” Harris said. “He knows when he doesn’t have a good practice, he’s aware of some of the things he needs to work on. I think that really helps him out because when an athlete is able to self-evaluate then that allows them to grow.”
Although outdoor track season recently began, it is the main goal for Saggau. Winning outdoor conference and getting to state to try and win an all-state title in triple jump is the ultimate motivation for him.
“Long term, our whole team knows it’s good to work hard in the middle of the season but it all comes down to the last few weeks of our season when we have conference, sectionals and state,” Saggau said. “Our mindset the whole year is focused on that.”