Thompson is top boys' track and field athlete

Florence's Curtis Thompson. (Ed Hille/Staff Photographer)

Curtis Thompson's two Meet of Champions javelin medals hang next to each other in his room.

The Florence senior earned his first last year when he finished fourth. This year, Thompson took home a first-place medal after setting a state record of 224 feet, 10 inches at the Meet of Champs.

When he looks at the two medals, he just thinks "progress."

Thompson, The Inquirer's 2014 South Jersey boys' track and field athlete of the year, had the longest throw in the country for the second straight year, but this year's accomplishment was different.

When Thompson threw 214-7 at the Hall of Fame Relays last year, it was the first time he topped 190 feet. After that throw, the Mississippi State recruit had to deal with increased expectations.

"He was chasing a ghost," Florence coach Rodney Roberson said. "The year before, he was in the 170s and 180s. He hit 214, and now everybody expects it every time and everybody is waiting for that.

"When you're a 17-year-old kid, that changes things. That altered how much pressure he put on himself."

The throw added pressure, but it also showed Thompson his potential. He previously talked to his parents about giving up football if he threw 200 feet.

A key part of Florence's 2012 Central Jersey Group 1 championship football team, Thompson gave up the sport this year to focus on track, which he tried as a freshman to get faster for football.

"When I threw it, we got home and it was reality," Thompson said. "I can't do football and track if I want to be that type of athlete."

It paid off for Thompson. He entered his senior season healthy, without the wear and tear of football. He threw farther than 200 feet six times as a senior, topped by his last throw of the season that gave him the state record.

"I know when I hit it last year, I had no idea how I hit it," Thompson said. "Everything was just good, and it went flying.

"This year when I hit 200, it's like, this is good. I know what I'm doing and how to throw it."

Thompson still has national meets before he competes for Mississippi State next fall. He just hopes that, despite a little more time off, he can continue his progress.