Thomas George chases after twin brother, an SEC Champion, in postseason with lofty goals

George has been the Mizzou frontrunner in all but one of the races this season.

Thomas George runs at the Tyson Invite in 2016. Courtesy of Mizzou Athletics

When cross-country redshirt sophomore Thomas George first arrived in America from England two years ago, some things threw him off.

He wasn’t used to cars being on the right side of the road, so whenever he crossed, he would be looking in the wrong direction. Whenever he tried to order a glass of water, his English accent when pronouncing “water” made it hard for people to understand.

But his success on the course this season hasn’t differed from his success in England.

This year, George has been the fastest Tiger in all his races but the first, where he was the second Tiger to cross the finish line.

This came as no surprise to head coach Marc Burns, who met George through his twin brother senior Alex George, who runs for Arkansas.

When Burns was coaching at Bradley University, he attempted to recruit the highly coveted Alex, and while he failed to bring him in, Burns later landed his identical twin for Mizzou.

“The brother was really good,” Burns said. “But everybody I talked to back [in England] said that Thomas had just as much potential.”

In England, Thomas George had an impressive resume. He was ranked in the top 20 in the country for U20 in the mile, 2000-meter steeplechase and the 1500 meter. He placed third in the mile in the Welsh Athletics U20 Outdoor International in 2015, in addition to other top finishes in multiple prestigious races.

The success that made George a desired recruit for Burns and got him to Mizzou was also the reason he struggled in his first collegiate season.

“I was expected to do well, but I ran horribly,” George said. “I was too arrogant, because of my talent. I thought I didn’t have to work really hard. Because of that, I slacked and I didn’t run as much as I should.”

Burns said that there were minor injuries as well that needed to be sorted out. In addition, George said he put on weight because of all the American food he consumed, and he had difficulty transitioning between two different countries.

“All the support systems I had at home were gone,” George said. “I did a pretty bad job of using the resources I have here, and I was a bit shy and afraid to ask about stuff.”

As a result, he redshirted the following year, which George credits for humbling him and letting him focus on what he needed to focus on. The redshirt season paid off.

“He’s kind of coming into his own a little bit,” Burns said. “He’s definitely one of our top guys right now.”

Despite being humbled by a redshirt season, George never set his goals any lower. With his brother Alex winning the SEC Championship last season and a 15th place finish at the NCAA Championships afterward, Thomas aspires to eventually do the same, if not better.

“I’d really like to be in the top 14 in the SEC, but I’d like to sneak into nationals as a team or individual,” he said. “I don’t want to be a mid-packer. I want to be on fire.”

Chasing after his brother, an SEC champion, is not an easy task. But George is not daunted, he said, because after all, they are identical twins.

Alex became an All-American last season, making him one of the best in the country. Thomas’s goal?

“I’d like to be an All-American,” he said.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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