Thomas Wilcher

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Thomas Wilcher
No. 27
Career information
Position(s): Running back
Height: 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight: 185 lb (84 kg)
College: Michigan (Football, Indoor and Outdoor Track)
Organizations
Career highlights and awards
Awards: NCAA Indoor 55 meter hurdles Champion (1986)
Big Ten Outdoor 110 m hurdles Champion (1987)
Big Ten football Championship team (1986)
Junior Olympics 110 m hurdles Champion (1981)
Ten-time MHSAA Champion athlete (1980–1982)
Five-time MHSAA Champion coach (1994–1996, track; 2011 & 2012, football)
Honors: Outdoor Track All-American (1985, 1986)
Indoor Track All-American (1986)
Michigan High School Track and Cross Country Athlete of the Year (1981, 1982)
Detroit Free Press Coach of the Year (1998)
Records:

Michigan Wolverines All-time Records
60-meter High Hurdles (1986–)
110 m hurdles (1985–)

Michigan Home Building Record
60-meter High Hurdles (1986–)

MHSAA All-time Records
110 m hurdles (1981–1986)

110 m hurdles (Championship meet) (1982–)

Thomas Wilcher is a high school athletic coach and teacher who was previously a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I track and field national champion in the indoor 55 m hurdles and a three-time NCAA All-American in track and field for the University of Michigan. Wilcher was also a running back for the Michigan Wolverines football team from 19831986. In his redshirt senior year, he was a member of the Big Ten Conference football champion team as well as a 110 m hurdles Big Ten individual champion.

In high school, Wilcher was a Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) record-setting hurdler and four-time All-American. As an athlete, he is a ten-time MHSAA track and field champion and a two-time Michigan High School Track and Cross Country Athlete of the Year award winner.[1] He was also a Junior Olympics champion in the 110 m hurdles and an All-state and All-American tailback in football.[1][2][3][4] He was also an All-City swimmer.[4]

As of 2013, Wilcher is the head coach for the football team and the boy's track & field team as well as the physical education teacher at Cass Technical High School in Detroit. As a boy's track coach, he is a three-time MHSAA team track and field champion, and his school has also twice been the MHSAA runner up.[5] In his role as a football coach, he is the current MHSAA Division 1 champion and a former Detroit Free Press Coach of the Year,[3] who once convinced Vernon Gholston, the 2007 Big Ten Conference Defensive lineman of the year and 2008 NFL Draft sixth overall pick,[6] to try playing football and to return to the sport after quitting. His 2010 and 2013 teams advanced to the MHSAA semifinals and 2011 and 2012 teams won back-to-back Division 1 championship games.

High school[edit]

At Detroit Central High School, in track and field, he was a four-time All-American,[4] ten-time MHSAA champion (three-time team, four-time relay, three-time individual) and Michigan High School Track and Cross Country Athlete of the Year award winner in both 1981 and 1982.[1] He led Detroit Central to three consecutive state MHSAA Class A championships as a team from 1980–1982.[5] As a sophomore in 1980, he was the anchor of the Class A state champion 4 × 440 yard relay race team. As a junior in 1981, he won the MHSAA Class A 120-yard (110 m) high hurdles, as well as participated on the 4 × 440 and 4 × 110 MHSAA champions. As a senior, he won both the low hurdles (300 m) and high hurdles (110 m) as well as participated on the state champion 4 × 100 meter MHSAA champions.[7] His time of 13.5 in the 110 metre hurdles was the state all class record from 1981–1986 and continues to be tied for the second fastest time in state high school history.[8] His 1982 time of 13.6 seconds continues to be the fastest 110 meter hurdles time ever run at the MHSAA state championship meet.[9] Although not officially recognized as a record due to metric conversions from yards to meters, the 1982 time of 41.7 in the 4 × 100 is considered indistinguishable from the official record and is described as a notable performance according to state records.[9]

Nationally, he was the number one ranked scholastic high hurdler as a junior as well as the number one ranked long (low) hurdler as a senior and was undefeated by high school athletes in both years in the respective events. As a junior, he won the 1981 AAU Junior Olympic Games in the high hurdles (By some accounts he was an AAU Junior champion in 1982).[3] As a senior, he won the International Prep and Golden West low hurdle races. He was timed as fast as 13.48 seconds and 13.28 (wind-aided).[1] In addition to his track accolades, he was an All-state and All-American tailback and All-City swimmer.[3][4]

Some sources regard his 13.2 time in the 1982 AAU Junior Olympic Men 110 Meter Hurdles Young event a national record as of May 2013.[4] As of 2009, the AAU considered it to be the national record.[10] However, as of 2013, AAU regarded Booker Nunley's July 27, 2008 13.41 time to be the junior Olympic record for the newly named 17-18 division (which was said to be formerly known as the Young division).[11]

College[edit]

Wilcher was recruited to the University of Michigan by Thomas E. Moss, Sr., the former Deputy Chief of Police for the Detroit Police Department.[12] In 1986, he won the NCAA indoor 55 meter hurdles Championship,[13] and he placed fifth in the NCAA outdoor 110 m hurdles with a time of 13.57,[14] earning both indoor and outdoor track & field All-American honors. He had also placed third in the outdoor 110m hurdles in 1985 earning All-American honors. In 1987, he was the outdoor Big Ten Conference 110 meter hurdles champion and earned first team All-Big Ten honors.[13] Wilcher holds numerous Michigan Wolverines records in the high hurdles including both the team indoor 60 meters (converted), team outdoor 110 meters, and Michigan indoor track building records.[15] Wilcher's personal best and team record time of 13.52 seconds in the 110 meter hurdles came at the 1985 Penn Relays where he was also the event champion.[16] He was the Big Ten winter sports athlete of the week in January 1986 for his hurdling performance.[17]

In February 1985, Wilcher was involved in an altercation stemming from an intramural basketball game. Thomas Wilcher incurred penalties of 72 hours of public service deferred sentence, US$429 court costs and restitution in Ann Arbor District Court.[18][19]

Wilcher, who wore #27 as a 6-foot (1.8 m) 185-pound (84 kg; 13.2 st) Wolverine,[20] redshirted as a true freshman in 1982 and played sparringly in his second and third seasons. He earned varsity letters in football as a redshirt junior and redshirt senior for coach Bo Schembechler.[20] He totaled 758 yards (693 m) rushing and eight touchdowns as a tailback in the same backfield as Jamie Morris. However, he never caught a pass. In his final season, he totaled 397 rushing yards and six touchdowns.[21] That year, he was a member of the 1986 Big Ten Conference football champions who went on to the 1987 Rose Bowl, but accumulated no statistics in the Rose Bowl. He accumulated statistics in eleven of the thirteen games played and started twice.[21][22] He had also started one game in 1985.[23] In his best games, he rushed for 104 yards (95 m) and a touchdown on 16 carries in a 34–3 win against the South Carolina Gamecocks football team on September 21, 1985,[24] and he rushed for two touchdowns and 74 yards (68 m) in Morris' absence in a 34–17 win against the Wisconsin Badgers football team on October 4, 1986.[25] His touchdowns were the first two in what became Schembechler's 200th victory.[26] On September 27, 1986, his seven-yard (6 m) touchdown run cemented a homecoming victory against the Florida State Seminoles football team by putting the team up 20–10 with 1:27 remaining.[27]

After graduating, Wilcher competed for the University of Chicago Track Club while training for the United States Olympic Trials for the 1988 Summer Olympic Games. On May 8, 1988 he won the Jesse Owens Classic with a 110-meter high hurdles time of 13.70.[28] At the Olympic Trials on July 23, 1988 at Indiana University Track and Field Stadium, his second-round heat included Arthur Blake, Jack Pierce, and Greg Foster who placed first, second and third respectively as well as Tony Dees.[29]

Coaching[edit]

Wilcher is the current football head coach at Cass Technical High School in Detroit, where entering the 2011 MHSAA semifinals, the team had compiled a 99–56 (.639) record and competed in the MHSAA Class-A playoffs ten times since he became head coach in 1997.[30][31] He was the 1998 Detroit Free Press High School Football Coach of the Year, with his Detroit City Class-A runner-up team.[3] At Cass, some of his athletes have included Vernon Gholston,[32][33] and Marko Cooper, who was 1999 All-USA second team.[34] One of the first star players he coached (as an assistant coach) was future Michigan Wolverines-leading rusher and NFL-athlete Clarence Williams.[35] In 2007, Joseph Barksdale was the Detroit News' No. 1 Blue Chip Prospect, Parade All-American, U.S. Army All-American Bowl Participant (East Roster), USA Today All-USA High School First Team, The ESPN.com 150, Rivals.com Top 100 for 2007, Scout.com Hot 100 for 2007, and SuperPrep All-American.[36] The 2010 team went 12–1 and lost 24–21 in the MHSAA Division I semifinals, when they fumbled on the 6-yard line on second-and-4 with less than a minute remaining.[37][38] The 2011 team won the state Division 1 championship by 49–13 margin against Detroit Catholic Central High School at Ford Field with a freshman quarterback, Jayru Campbell, who also plays basketball and runs track.[39] The 2012 team won the third consecutive district championship and qualified for the state Division I championships.[40][41] The 2012 team defended their championship by defeating Detroit Catholic Central High School 36–21 at Ford Field in a rematch of the prior year's state championship match.[42] In 2013, Detroit Catholic Central upset Cass Tech in the state semifinals by a 28–0 score.[43] The following year, Saline High School upset Cass Tech in the state semifinals 30–15.[44][45]

Wilcher is also the Cass boy's track and field coach. The team won the MHSAA Class A track and field championships in 1994, 1995, and 1996 under Wilcher. The team was state runner up in the MHSAA Lower Peninsula Division 1 Championships in 2001 and 2002.[5] Among the track athletes he has trained are NCAA All-American Pierre Vinson, and current Michigan Wolverine, Nick McCampbell.

Vernon Gholston[edit]

Vernon Gholston did not play football at Cass until his sophomore year and did not play on defense (at linebacker) until his senior year.[46][47] Gholston did not even see himself as a football player when he was in high school, yet he has gone on to become an Ohio State Buckeyes football defensive end, the 2007 Big Ten Conference Defensive lineman of the year and the sixth overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft.[6] According to Gholston, "It was between periods and I was going to my next class. . . .He thought I was actually somebody’s father walking down the hall. He asked me whom was I looking for. I was like, 'Nobody. I go here.' He really couldn't believe it. He kind of grabbed me at that point and put me on the team."[33]

A similar, although more indepth, story of the recruitment of Gholston has been told by Wilcher: "He was walking down the hall with a Bible in his hands," Wilcher said. "He was already built like a grown man; he was all cut up (like a bodybuilder). I asked him, 'Can I help you sir?' He looked around to see who I was talking to. I said, 'Are you looking for a student?' He said, 'No, I go here.' He said he was a freshman. I thought he was lying." When the defensive coordinator kicked Gholston off the team for being too soft, Wilcher went to his house and dragged him back into the program: "I told him I didn't care if he wasn't tough enough, he was going to play football for me," Wilcher said. "I knew that he had desire to play. My only regret is that I didn't put him at running back. I didn't know how fast he was."[46]

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Cass Tech Technicians (Detroit Public School League - Division I) (1997–2011)
1997 Cass Tech 7–3 4–1 Class AA Pre-Regional
1998 Cass Tech 7–2 4–1 Division I District
1999 Cass Tech 7–2 4–1 Division I District
2000 Cass Tech 9–3 3–2 Division I Regional
2001 Cass Tech 5–5 3–2
2002 Cass Tech 5–4 3–2
2003 Cass Tech 6–4 3–2 Division I Pre-District
2004 Cass Tech 4–5 2–3
2005 Cass Tech 2–7 1–4
2006 Cass Tech 7–4 3–2 Division I District
2007 Cass Tech 5–4 1–3
2008 Cass Tech 8–3 3–1 Division I District
2009 Cass Tech 6–4 2–2 Division I District
2010 Cass Tech 12–1 4–0 Division I Semifinal
2011 Cass Tech 11–3 5–1 Won Division 1 State Championship
Cass Tech Technicians (Detroit Public School League - West) (2012–present)
2012 Cass Tech 12–2 6–0 Won Division 1 State Championship
2013 Cass Tech 12–1 Division I Semifinal
2014 Cass Tech 12–1 Division I Semifinal
Cass Tech: 137–60 51–27
Total: 137–60
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
source:[30]

Personal[edit]

He and his wife Crystal had a son Kishon and daughters Kaila and Kiersten.[48] As of November 2013 Kishon is a redshirt sophomore cornerback for the Toledo Rockets.[49] Kaila was the 2012 Detroit Public School League champion in the 300 meter dash.[50]

References[edit]

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