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Tucson track star Neysia Thomas on the rise

Posted at 9:13 PM, Jan 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 23:13:38-05

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson High School sophomore Neysia Thomas knew exactly what she wanted to be someday at a very early age.

"I ran away from my dad when I was little and he was like, 'yep, that's what she's going to do. She's going to run track."

Her father, Tambotka Howard, knew better than anyone.  Howard was once a member of the University of Arizona Track and Field team and is still involved in the sport.  He is the head coach of Tucson Elite Athletic Club, a club track program filled with young, talented athletes.
But the accomplished father admits, "she is way better than me."
Neysia is better than most.  The 15-year-old runner has won state championships in the 100 and 200 meter races.  The All-American broke the Tucson High School record while running for her club team over the summer.
Howard advanced to the National Championships meet, where she placed 8th overall in the 100m race. 
"Them, compared to me, I was pretty small and kind of underestimated myself, but overall I still performed and was able to call myself an All-American at the end of the day," Neysia says of her experience at Nationals.
But track does not currently occupy all of Neysia's time.  She currently plays basketball on the Tucson junior varsity team, but has decided that this will be her final season on the hardwood floor.
"Summer of my junior year is when I can get recruited.  I want to be at my best when they see me that way, so I think giving up basketball will be worth having a career in track."
Neysia has dreamed of following in her father's footsteps by someday running at the U of A.  
Her father jokes of her future recruitment, "ASU is NO! You cannot go there, sorry! No, not going to happen."
Wildcat Red and Blue is something else that Neysia knew from a very early age.