The only thing Nakia Thomas knew about track when she signed up for the indoor season as a ninth-grader was what she had seen in the Olympics on television.
Now two years later, with a 90 average and a good shot at the state high school championship, the DeWitt Clinton high school junior seems likely to run her way into a college scholarship.
"She's one of the best runners in New York City and one of the best students as well," said Robert DiLorenzo, Thomas' advanced placement American history teacher.
Already, 26 colleges -- including Stanford, the University of Massachusetts, Tulane and Penn -- have sent Thomas, 15, preliminary recruiting letters.
By her second year on the team, Thomas was one of the best sophomore runners in the state, said Cornel Johnson, Thomas' coach. This year she is moving in on both the city and state high school titles.
"Within two years, she went from a novice as a freshman to an impact runner," Johnson said.
At the city championships for the Public School Athletic League last month, Thomas came within .04 seconds of winning the 600-meter title.
She lost in a photo finish to Rochelle Walling of Washington Irving High School in Manhattan.
"I thought I won for over an hour," Thomas said.
Although Thomas hopes her running talent will land her a scholarship to a school with a good pre-med program, she also wants to be "one of the best" on the track.
"People say how could you run around in circles for no reason," said Thomas, who moved to Wakefield from Jamaica when she was 8. "But it's fun."