There was a time when Dylan Thombs wasn’t sure when he’d be healthy to ski or how effective he’d be once he was.
The Monmouth senior had double shin surgery last April and faced a long road to recovery.
“Having surgery, it was tough,” Thombs said. “I didn’t know how long it would take to recover. It was a long process. I recovered right after the cross country season, in late October and early November. I didn’t put the hours of training in that I wanted to, and that was tough also. I had some goals but I didn’t know what to expect.”
His first goal was to win a Mountain Valley Conference Nordic championship. His next was to duplicate his performance at the Class C state championships.
Thombs accomplished both, overcoming a tough injury and tougher competition.
For his accomplishments this winter, Thombs is the Kennebec Journal Boys Nordic Skier of the Year.
“My hard work paid off,” Thombs said. “After last ski season, I wasn’t where I wanted to be. My big goal was the MVC’s. It was my senior year and I really wanted to take it.”
Thombs did just that.
He won the 5-kilometer freestyle race at the MVC championships, which the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center hosted. Thombs finished in 15 minutes, 20.9 seconds to edge out Thomas Farraday of Mt. Abram.
The following day, on Feb. 8 at Titcomb Mountain, Thombs won the Classical title in 16:58.7. He beat Farraday by about a minute.
“We didn’t have a lot of regular season races,” Monmouth coach Chris Bryant said. “We had four, I believe. So he really wanted to do well at MVC’s, and then he wanted to win at states.”
And win at states Thombs did.
On Feb. 20 at Black Mountain, Thombs won the Class C freestyle title with a time of 13:09.03. He edged out Daniel Streinz, of Katahdin, by about two seconds.
The race came a day after Thombs finished second to Streinz in the classical race by about five seconds.
Thombs said the runnerup finish fueled his desire to turn in a strong performance the following day.
“Coming off a second place finish to Daniel, I knew the second day was going to be difficult,” Thombs said. “Right before the race I paused in the middle of the trail and thought, âthis is my senior year. I can’t come back and re-live this race ever again. This is it. This is the last chance I have. There’s no reason I can’t do this.’ I didn’t want any excuses so I just ignored the pain.”
Bryant provided Thombs his timing splits throughout the race, and he raced out to about a 15-second lead over his pursuers by the time they reached the first big hill on the course.
“That felt awesome,” Thombs said. “I was amazed I was up that much. I just flew up that hill. I remember I then fell right at the finish line. I just gave it everything I had. I left the race with no regrets, and that’s how I wanted to leave that race. It felt awesome. It was a great way to cap my season.”