“I remained really close with my high school track coach, Darren Rodriguez,” Thayer said. “He was the biggest reason why I had grown to love the sport of track.”
Rodriguez had been a national qualifier in the decathlon for the Rams. He put Thayer in contact with ASU head track and field coach James Reid.
“He wanted to get back into track,” Reid said. “He walked on here, and he kind of did what we expected him to do. He isn’t a world beater, but he is one of the most consistent guys we have had.”
“My only real goal my first season in 2011,” Thayer said, “was to show how much I wanted and deserved to be at Angelo State. I wanted to make the most of my opportunity. I knew that one leg of the mile relay had graduated, and I really wanted to make that relay.”
After being away from the sport, though, Thayer had a tough road ahead of him.
“He jumped right in,” Reid said, “and the good thing about being away from the sport was that he knew he really wanted to do it and he was hungry. He jumped in with a good group of guys, such as Terrence Holland, Brian Holik and Isidro Garcia, and never backed down from them. He wasn’t at their same level, but he worked extremely hard to get to that level.”
Thayer’s hard work paid off as he not only made the 4×400-meter relay team his first season, but also earned All-America honors when the team placed fifth at the NCAA Division II National Championships.
“I never thought about becoming an All-American that freshman season,” Thayer said, “and even after I became an All-American that first year, I wasn’t quite sure what it was all about.”
“The biggest surprise was his success happened the first year,” Reid said. “I thought he was a guy who would eventually get in shape because he had some good marks in high school. But it is hard to take a year and a half off and then come back within a year. Usually kids in that situation, it takes them a year just to get back in shape.”
But it was not all sunshine and roses for Thayer, who was disappointed in 2012 when the relay team failed to repeat as All-Americans. He entered the 2013 season with renewed determination and helped lead the Rams to their first Lone Star Conference Championship since 1992. He followed that up by joining with his 4×400 relay mates to once again claim All-America honors at the national meet.
That success then carried over to Thayer’s senior season as he capped off his ASU career in 2014 with another trip to the national meet and a third All-America certificate as a member of the relay team.
“The best thing for Robbie was he was able to get to nationals his first year,” Reid said. “It keeps you hungry. He just bought into the program, and the student-athletes we have that do that are the ones that become successful.”