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Thornton, men’s track on the rise as outdoor season heats up


Aman Thornton waves before stepping onto the first-place podium for the Men’s 4×400 meter relay at the Indoor ACC Championships.

From shattering records, smashing personal bests and great team performances across the board week in and week out, this season has been special for the Clemson track and field team.
On Monday, the men’s team remained at their season-high No. 7 ranking in the latest U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association polls. Aman Thornton, a member of program director Mark Elliott’s middle-distance program, has been a driving force behind Clemson’s recent success. 
Since stepping foot on campus as a transfer student from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the fall of 2021, Thornton has made an immediate impact with the Tigers. It’s not easy to miss him — with his 6-foot-4 frame and one-of-a-kind personality, everyone knows “AT.” 
The junior from Columbus, Ohio, primarily runs the 800 meters but also shows his blistering speed when he features in the 4×400 meter relay. At the Tom Jones Invitational from April 14-15, Thornton and his training partner Tarees Rhoden had a historic outing.
In the 800-meter run, the pair set personal bests and are featured in the men’s 4×400-meter relay with Cameron Rose and DeAndre Anderson, which set a new school record. Rhoden currently sits at No. 1 in the NCAA with his time of 1:46.20, and Thornton stands at No. 3, just milliseconds behind at 1:46.82.
Thornton sat down with The Tiger to answer some questions regarding his path to Clemson and his recent success.
Patrick Driscoll (PD): When you entered the transfer portal, what ultimately led you to end up here at Clemson? 
Aman Thornton (AT): I wanted to find a new home where I knew my coach was certified and proven. For me, I didn’t need all these fancy bells and whistles. I just needed someone who knew what they were doing and that their track record followed.
PD: Coach Elliott is one of the best to do it. How is it being able to learn from him daily?
AT: It’s tough, honestly. It makes you have to stay on your toes and be accountable for yourself.
PD: Clemson is the place to be when mentioning the 800 meters. What does it mean to be a part of such a special training group? 
AT: It means a lot. It’s very competitive, and you need to be on your A-game every day, or you will be left behind.
PD: Many do not know how tough it is physically and mentally to handle the vigorous training when it comes to the 800 meters. What do you do to keep your body and mind right?
AT: I watch an absurd amount of cartoons. 
PD: Being limited to strictly cross-training due to injury before indoor season, how did you overcome that block mentally, and what motivated you? 
AT: I wanted it. I wanted it bad. After how things ended last year, I knew that nothing would stand in my way of getting what I wanted.
PD: With many PBs, records broken and a team ranking that now sits at number seven, what have you done differently this year on and off the track that has attributed to the recent success? 
AT: Our men’s team is close, and we looked around and saw the potential and knew that all we have to do is just put it together. We have really become a tight-knit group.
PD: The Tom Jones Invitational was a special weekend. Whether it was the 800-meter or the 4×400, how did it feel having such an outing?
AT: I felt great. We are really starting to put the pieces together between (coach) Elliot and I.
PD: Outside of track, what is one thing you want people to know about you? When free time allows, what are some of your hobbies and interests?
AT: That Beats should sponsor me. I need some more headphones! In my free time, I watch an absurd amount of cartoons, like I will only watch cartoons. Nothing else. Also, I got a dog; he is cool, I guess.
PD: Everyone in Clemson knows you as “AT,” and your personality is one of a kind; where does that stem from?
AT: The full nickname is “AT Boogie,” but people don’t know that. I just like to be myself. I don’t care what people think because everyone has something weird about themselves, so it just don’t phase me. I want to have a lasting effect on people and leave a legacy that exudes my time on the track. I’m also a little bit crazy.
Following the historic Penn Relays this weekend, Thornton and the rest of the team have their eyes set on championship season. Post-season begins with the ACC Championships in Raleigh, North Carolina, from May 11-13. The men currently rank at the top of the conference as they look to bring home their first outdoor title since 2004.
Interview responses were edited for length and clarity.

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Patrick Driscoll
Patrick Driscoll, Senior Reporter
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