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Kaiserslautern’s Gregory Thompson won the long jump, the triple jump and the 300-meter hurdles in the Division I track and field championships Saturday in Würzburg, Germany.
Kaiserslautern’s Gregory Thompson won the long jump, the triple jump and the 300-meter hurdles in the Division I track and field championships Saturday in Würzburg, Germany. (Raymond T. Conway / S&S)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Call Greg Thompson a fast learner.

The Kaiserslautern junior says he didn’t get serious about track and field until the middle of last season.

Now, one the eve of the Department of Defense Dependent Schools European track championship, Thompson is favored to win three gold medals, and is in contention for a fourth.

Thompson — the premier 300-meter hurdler in DODDS-Europe — moved his name to the top of the heap for the long jump and triple jump in last weekend’s Division I track championships in Würzburg. The 17-year-old Thompson set DODDS-Europe bests with a 20-foot, 10-inch long jump and a 41-9 in the triple jump.

Not bad for someone who just began jumping this season.

“Greg is one of those guys you can tell, ‘Go do this and go do that,’” said his coach, Marty Kollar, “and he’ll try it for a while and say, ‘Oh, yeah, I get it.’ He’s the most natural athlete on our team.”

In addition to his jumps, Thompson also lowered his DODDS-best time in the 300 hurdles to 40.99 seconds, becoming a three-event Division I champion in the process.

In the 200 meters, he pushed Heidelberg’s D.J. Johnson to a season-best 22.29. Thompson clocked 22.77, third-best in DODDS-Europe this season.

All in all, he didn’t just rise to the occasion, he surpassed it.

“It was fun,” said Thompson, whose mother, Mary Thompson, teaches fourth-grade at Sembach Elementary School. She also coaches K-town’s jumpers. “I enjoyed it.”

Even the opposing coaches have noticed.

“He’s one of those guys who could do seven events and do them well,” said Miles Johnson of the Würzburg staff, who watched Thompson dominate the Division I meet.

“Kaiserslautern could really use him on the relays, but he’s too valuable in the individual events.”

One of those seven events Johnson mentioned would seem to be the 110-meter high hurdles, but the 5-foot-9 Thompson, who floats over the intermediates, is wary of the verticality and technicality of the highs.

“They’re too high. They’re scary,” he said, “You have to count steps and get your stride right. In the 300s, your speed changes a lot, so you don’t count steps.”

But track isn’t the only sport in which he excels.

Thompson is K-town’s No. 1 singles’ tennis player, and he plans to play basketball his senior season. Just to add balance, the honor student is a delegate on K-town’s Model U.N. and Model U.S. Senate teams.

Thompson, who’s lived in Germany all his life, said he’s planning to visit George Mason University in Virginia and the University of North Carolina this summer to lay some groundwork for his track future.

But for now, he said he focused on his track present.

“I never get relaxed,” said Thompson, in spite of his apparent superiority — especially in the 300s. “With guys like (Heidelberg’s) Nate Idlet (42.29 in the 300s) and (Heidelberg’s) T.J. Trice (41-7 in the triple and just under 20-5 in the long jump) out there, I can’t relax.”

That doesn’t mean, however, he can’t enjoy the experience.

“This weekend’s really going to be exciting,” he said.

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