By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
Staff Writer
If you drive around the neighborhoods of Egg Harbor Township, chances are you’ll see Gobi Thurairajah running down the side of the road, clocking mile after mile. And if you do happen to spot him, go ahead and give a honk and a wave because the recent EHT graduate loves all the support he gets from his hometown.
With an easy running style, a pearly white smile and a charismatic personality, Thurairajah is known simply as Gobi, and he’s about as well known as any other star in the South Jersey running community. Other athletes gravitate toward him at cross country or track meets, teammates and coaches love him, and he’s one of the big-time favorites among the youngsters at EHT’s youth running club. It’s hard not to like Gobi, Glory Days’ Male Senior of the Year. He’s an excellent student, a humble teammate, a kid who enjoys giving back to the community, and an athlete who above all craved team success during a high school career in sports that are individual oriented.

Gobi Thurairajah finished up his running career at EHT in style, setting a school record in the mile during the track season. (Glory Days photo/Dave O’Sullivan)


During his final two years as an Eagle, Thurairajah (pronounced Thur-A-RA-jah) became one of the top distance runners in the Cape-Atlantic League, and all of South Jersey. In cross country he was one of the top contenders for the league title, and in track he set a school record in the mile, helped lead his team to a sectional championship, and as an individual earned a berth in the Meet of Champions, where he finished 10th in the 1,600 meters with a time of 4:17.68.
And to think, growing up, Gobi wanted to be a basketball player.
“In my early years, in elementary school, I came in second-to-last place in the Miller Mile, and from there I kind of had the motivation to get better and keep moving forward. In middle school, I was on better footing and was one of the top three runners on the middle school team. As I was coming into high school, coach (Ryan) Smith and coach (Joe) Lucchio got me out there for summer practices. Then school started and things just kind of took off. I had a few injuries freshman and sophomore years and I wasn’t really that serious about it, but once I found out I could be pretty good I took it a lot more seriously,” Gobi said. “We got a new distance coach for spring track this year. Coach Lucchio has young kids so he kind of took a step back, so we had Tom McLaughlin, who had the mile record at our school, so he coached me and I beat his mile record, which was pretty cool.”
Above and beyond his outstanding times, Gobi became the face of the EHT cross country and track programs. His dedication and happy personality had a profound effect on a number of teammates and coaches.
“When I think of anyone to summarize our track team, it’s Gobi. He’s the funniest, goofiest person you could be around, but when he gets in that competitive mode and gets serious, he knows what he has to do. He taught me so much during track and he’s one of my great friends. He’s such an awesome competitor. He always goes out and does what he needs to do and what the team needs him to do. He’s one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever seen in any sport. I’d be driving my car down the street and see him running. He puts his heart and soul into everything he does,” said Mubeen Momodu, a bronze medalist in the triple jump at the MOC. “He’s an amazing kid, great energy and very passionate about what he does.”
“He’s always running. I’d be driving down the street and see him running with his sunglasses on. He was a great teammate. My entire life, I’ve never seen him sad. He’s always laughing and putting smiles on peoples’ faces. He broke the school record in the mile, and it’s funny because the guy coaching him (Tom McLaughlin) had the school record,” added fellow senior Trey Henry. “He definitely should have gotten more recognition. He’s been doing great things ever since he came in freshman year. Sometimes he would be like, ‘I just broke the school record and there’s nothing out there about it.’ I would tell him, ‘sometimes things aren’t recognized. You just have to shake it off and make people see you.’ He definitely should have gotten recognized more. He had a great career.”
Added track coach Ryan Smith, “He’s the face of our program. He’s well known in the track and field community. You go to any event, even sectionals, states and Meet of Champions, guys come up to him. He’s well known in our sport. You see this real skinny kid come in as a freshman and we were like, ‘let’s send him to the distance team.’ His dream was to play basketball, and to see a kid like that succeed in our sport — he’s the mile record holder — we have this event in our school district called the “Miller Mile” named after the Miller School in EHT, he came in second to last in fourth grade and didn’t even qualify in fifth grade. I brought him down there this year and just had him talk to those kids. I said to them, ‘look at this kid, he was in this event and look at him now, he’s a big thing on the track scene who is going to Rider University.’”
As much success as he had during his career, Gobi said he’s most proud of two things — becoming a team leader and helping out younger kids in the track club.

Gobi also had a tremendous career in the cross country circuit, challenging for the league title the past couple of seasons. (Glory Days photo/Dave O’Sullivan)


“Becoming a leader of these teams was awesome. I remember freshman year, looking up to guys like Eric Barnes and others. They pushed me to be a leader, and once they saw what I could do they were really supportive and helped me through that process. Guys like Trey Henry and Mubeen, we became really good friends senior year, we would have little hangouts, just to hang out and become closer. I think this was the closest team I’ve ever been on and it was fun to be a part of it. I had so much fun senior year,” he said. “After I started getting noticed it was nice to be able to be a coach (at the EHT running club), and make sure the kids have fun and realize that running doesn’t have to be something you have to force yourself to do just to stay fit, that it can be something where you have fun with friends and make something of yourself. It was great, I love giving back to the community. That was my favorite thing about being a good runner, was being able to go help out little kids and have fun with the sport.”
And that says a lot about who Gobi is, that all he wants to talk about after an all-star prep running career is the impact he has on kids.
“As much success as he’s had as an athlete, he’s an even better person. We’re running this track camp and he’s by far the favorite of all these kids. My 4-year-old son calls him his best friend. He just has an effect on people. He’s still hungry for success in the sport, and he’ll have an even bigger impact as a person in that Rider program,” Smith said. “With distance runners, you have to do a lot on your own to succeed. I’ll be on my ride home from the high school and I’ll see him on the street running, and that’s a huge example. If you do things on your own, they’ll pay off in the long run. His reward for all that work is now he has his name in the record books of our program, he was 100 percent a team captain for us. In his four years of high school, he won two outdoor sectional titles, we were undefeated in the Cape-Atlantic League (39-0) and we won four county titles. With him, we never lost a dual meet or a county meet, so that’s big-time.”
Added Gobi, “I always had a bunch of energy to just have fun and go for runs. Freshman year, I tried out for basketball and got cut, but I’m glad it didn’t work out. I had hopes and dreams (for running) but I never expected it to work out the way it has.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays