WARSAW – The Hickerson name has long been synonymous with success around a slew of athletic programs at WCHS.
You could call it a true family affair.
Warsaw senior Tommy Hickerson is the latest, and the final, member of the outstanding family to compete as a Tiger.
Hickerson, who follows three older siblings, is set to compete for Warsaw one final time come Saturday.
The standout is slated to participate in the long jump at the IHSAA State Finals slated for the Robert C. Haugh Track and Field Complex on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington.
Hickerson hopes to leave his mark, literally, in the sand in his final high school event.
“My goal this year was to get to State so I just want to seize and enjoy the opportunity now,” said Hickerson prior to a workout Wednesday. “I just want to go down there and try to throw up a pr and if I do that I’ll be happy. Anything now is icing on the cake.”
Hickerson, who was a receiver in football, has excelled in just his second year in track at WCHS. He played baseball his first two years. The chiseled 6-3, 200-pounder was sixth at the sectional a year ago with a jump of 20-10. He finished second at the Goshen Sectional this year at 21-5 and then went 20-11 in his final jump last Thursday in the Warsaw Regional to take second and punch his ticket to State.
Warsaw track coach Matt Thacker knows that Hickerson, who also ran the 200 and 400 earlier this season, has plenty of big time ability.
“We’ve known that Tommy is capable of big things,” said Thacker, who is also an assistant coach for the Tiger football program. “Our coaching staff believes in him and has faith in him. He competed at State indoors. The key has been for him to have faith in himself. When he does that, great things happen.
“Tommy has nothing to lose at the State Finals. He just needs to go out there and go big. There’s a deep field in the long jump this year, but he can go 22, 23 feet. That’s our hope for him and if he does that, let’s see what happens.”
Hickerson is the fourth child of Bryan and Jo Hickerson to wear the orange and black. Sisters Emily and Claire excelled in soccer and track respectively and brother Joey played baseball. Emily and Joey went on to play at Grace College, while Claire is a pole vaulter at the Air Force Academy. Father Bryan, a 6-2 southpaw, pitched for four seasons from 1991-95 in the Major Leagues with the Giants, Cubs and Rockies. Mother Jo, who is an assistant coach for the Warsaw girls track program, competed in track and field at the University of Minnesota, the same school that Bryan attended.
“Being the youngest of four really made me competitive,” related Hickerson, who will take his track talent to Grace College. “I hate losing and I just try and go all out no matter what it is. My parents have been super supportive. When I chose to give up baseball for track these last two years they let me make that decision and then they supported me.”
“Tommy comes from some pretty good bloodlines,” noted Thacker. “It’s a very positive family. His parents are just great people. They have raised four great kids, who have been outstanding student-athletes here at Warsaw.”
Hickerson, who is coached by Cole Richards, has persevered despite a season with its fair share of ups and downs. He has struggled at time on his own home board, which is the smallest in the conference.
“Scratching has been my biggest enemy,” said Hickerson, who also excels in the classroom with a 12.0 GPA. “My coaches put no pressure on me. The only pressure is what I put on myself. It’s all about being in the right mindset. The mental side of it is a huge part.
“The long jump looks super simple, but it’s not. There’s more to it than just having speed and hops. It’s about reception and getting your steps down and hitting the right spot on the board. Working on my mental part of it has helped me.”
“You have to put the scratches behind you and just relax and attack it. I like watching other guys jump because it calms my nerves.”
Hickerson has a top jump this Spring of 21-10 at East Noble. He had a jump wiped out there in which he went 22-3. The field at the State Finals has 28 competitors with Hickerson in the fourth and final flight for the preliminaries. A total of 14 jumpers have a seed jump of 22 feet or better with the top seed being a leap of 23-8 by Wheeler senior Jacob Wasz.
Hickerson does not mind that he will miss one big final part of his senior year, commencement, Friday night to be in Bloomington.
“At the beginning of the season, we (seniors) said let’s miss graduation,” said Hickerson. “I’m going down on Friday to watch our girls compete. I know that my parents have sat through three graduations, so not having one more is not a problem for them.”
A family affair for sure.