Isaac Thiessen is not only getting the opportunity to continue his running career at the NCAA Division I level, he’ll have the chance to be a teammate of his older brother’s for the first time.
The VHSL Class 3 state cross country champion from Abingdon recently made a verbal commitment to join the program at the University of Tennessee, where his older sibling is a standout. Karl Thiessen will be a fifth-year senior for the Volunteers in 2022 and is coming off a season in which he was an All-Southeastern Conference performer and advanced to the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
“Because of our four-grade difference, my brother and I have never ran competitively on the same team,” Isaac Thiessen said. “With COVID providing a fifth year for him, we will be able to race together on the next level while both representing the Big Orange. This is something I’m super excited for, and I know he is too.
“It’s not very common for siblings to compete together on the D1 Power-5 level, so I’m super stoked for that. He’s been a huge contributor to my success and always been someone I’ve looked up to, so having the opportunity to train and compete with him is huge.”
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Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest were other schools Thiessen considered, but the one in Knoxville rose to the top of his list.
“A lot of things contributed to my decision,” Thiessen said. “The offer as a whole was very enticing. The team is great, the facilities are incredible, and the academic opportunities and student-athlete advantages are very hard to beat.”
UVA and UT were the finalists for Thiessen, who took his official visit with the Vols in late October.
“I liked many things about both schools and programs, but obviously UT reigned supreme,” Thiessen said. “The incentives were unmatched, the team fit me very well, and the opportunity to run with my brother in the SEC was too good to pass up.”
It’s been a life-altering few months for Thiessen.
He crossed the finish line of the 5K course at Green Hill Park in Salem in 15.32.30 on Nov. 13 to win the state championship and set the pace as the Falcons cruised to the team title at the Class 3 meet.
On Sunday, the State of Franklin Track Club revealed Thiessen had been named the outstanding high school male runner in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.
Oh yeah, he also earned the rank of Eagle Scout recently.
An illness prevented Thiessen from competing in the Eastbay South Regional meet last month.
However, he’ll be ready for track and field season at AHS, and then he’ll join his brother at the University of Tennessee.
“I’m extremely happy to be going to Tennessee,” Thiessen said. “I know Coach [Beth Alford] Sullivan and Coach [Austin] Whitelaw will treat me well and develop me as an athlete in the most efficient and productive ways. The future is bright in Knoxville, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.”
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