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“I guess I doubt myself in a way,” said the 5-foot-8 Thumann, who was named a captain — senior Sam Hearn is the other — by Whitinsville Christian coach Chris Vander Baan this fall. “It’s one of my flaws as a runner. Everyone’s human. I just get nervous. When the gun goes off, I tend to not think about anything. When I’m not thinking about anything, it’s just instinct and muscle memory.”

Thumann, who is in his third year on varsity, opened his season Sept. 8 with a personal-best 16:20.80 after placing third at the Martha’s Vineyard Invitational 5K.

“I took the first mile way too fast, but other than that, it was good,” Thumann said.

He has also led the unbeaten Crusaders (2-0) with individual victories wins over Dual Valley Conference rivals Douglas and Sutton.

“If I put in the time and work I’m happy with whatever I run,” said Thumann, a T&G Super Team selection last year. “I don’t look like a guy who can run 16:20. As a runner, I’d say the reason why I’ve had success is because I have a very good work ethic. If I put in the time and work, I’m happy with whatever I run.”

“He could be the most special young man I’ve ever coached,” said Vander Baan, who is in his 18th season at the helm that also includes coaching the girls’ varsity. “I don’t know where his threshold is at — he doesn’t know how good he is. He likes to have fun with his friends, but when it’s time for workouts or a race, Joseph is all business. He will give 100 percent every single time he’s in a race.”

Thumann burst on the scene last November, when he finished sixth in 17:14 at the Central Mass. Division 2 Championships at Gardner Municipal Golf Course.

Interestingly, he missed last year’s All-States because his dad , Joe, had Patriots tickets for that weekend against the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City. The trip was obviously fun, but Thumann was torn.

Thumann, who’ll turn 16 in November, has several goals this season, including: breaking 16 minutes in a 5K; winning the CMass Division 2 individual title; and a top 10 finish at All-States, which this year will be contested at Northfield Mountain.

Last year, among Thumann’s many accomplishments was an impressive 12th-place performance in the freshman/sophomore race at the Foot Locker Northeast Regionals in New York.

“I really haven’t thought about the state meet — I guess top 10,” he said. “It’s more so an honor to get to that place. I’m really looking forward to districts.”

“I think he’s got a shot at districts,” Vander Baan said. “I think he can be top five at All-States.”

Thumann wants to break the Crusaders’ course record of 17 minutes flat currently held by former Hopedale High star Brandon Hall, who is now running cross-country and track at Fordham.

“Last year, we had three home meets, but I never let Joe race on our course,” said Vander Baan, whose squad hosts Hopedale on Tuesday. ”(Hopedale No. 1) Colin Black will be a pretty good test for Joe. I think they will have a good battle.”

—Contact Steve Farley at sports@telegram.com.

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