It wasn’t enough for Dominic Hockenbury to leave a long-distance legacy as the fastest two-miler in the history of District 2 track and field.
Now he wants the state record too.
“That’s definitely a goal,” said Hockenbury, Lake-Lehman’s senior star who already won two PIAA Class 2A championships in the 3,200. “Definitely, it’s been a goal to see how close I can get to that nine-minute barrier.”
He’ll get one last run at setting a new state standard Saturday during the PIAA Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University’s Seth Grove Stadium — where Hockenbury is a heavy favorite to walk away as a three-time state champion in the boys Class 2A 3,200 run.
“He really is a once-in-a-lifetime kid,” Lake-Lehman coach John Sobocinski said.
Other talented Wyoming Valley Conference competitors will look to make their own lifetime memories this weekend.
Meyers senior standout Raheem Twyman, who last year finished with a state silver medal in the 300 hurdles and helped the school’s 400-meter relay team win gold, is seeded third in the 110 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles — which both qualify Friday and hold finals Saturday.
And fresh off setting a District 2 record in the girls Class 3A high jump by clearing 5-7, Dallas’ two-time state medalist Katie Kravitsky also has her eye on a state title before she heads off to compete with the University of Cincinnati next season. The senior stalwart is seeded second to Valerie Przekop of Central Bucks South, but both made the 5-7 height to win their district competitions.
And Berwick’s sophomore thrower Payden Montana is lurking among the top eight seeds in two events. She’s seeded fourth in the Class 3A girls discus and eighth in the shot put. And in perhaps the WVC’s most interesting field event, Wyoming Area’s Bree Bednarski, and Pittston Area teammates Marley O’Brien and Taryn Ashby are all among the top 15 seeds in the Class 3A girls javelin throw.
Looking for speed?
Wyoming Valley West’s Ray Richard is seeded fourth in the Class 3A boys 400-meter dash, Dallas’ Uzee Ukattah is seeded sixth in the Class 3A boys 100 sprint, while the Class 2A girls field features No. 8 seeds in Meyers’ Nalasjia Harris-Johnson in the 100 and Holy Redeemer’s Autumn Kaminski in the 100 hurdles.
It all starts with Friday’s finals, where Redeemer’s defending state bronze medalist Caroline Banas is seeded third in the Class 2A girls high jump and Hanover Area’s Brandon Chafin is also seeded third, in the Class 2A boys long jump.
Then Hockenbury comes into Saturday looking for his final, crowning high school moment.
His District 2 record-setting time of 9:13.79 in the 3,200 is six minutes faster than the state’s No. 2 seed Will Loevner of Quaker Valley, but it’s hardly Hockenbury’s best. He ran a 9:03 at an invitational last month, which would best the PIAA mark of 9:04.09 set by Southern Moreland’s Chris Dugan in 1997.
“With any state race, it’s the best people in the state,” Hockenbury said. “So there’s great competition. I’d be really happy if they were to help me through, get me through the first couple laps.”
For most of the past three years, though, Hockenbury has grown accustomed to running alone as his distance career has grown more dominant by the season.
“Running out front by yourself is really harder than it is to be stuck in a pack,” Hockenbury said. “When you’re running by yourself, you feel the pain a lot more. It’s difficult. But running that way is one of the best things I can do. You have to block out the pain and get focused on running my splits.”
It hasn’t slowed him so far.
Hockenbury closed his cross country career by winning back-to-back state titles, and is looking to turn his final high school track and field run into a third consecutive PIAA championship.
“If he wins on Saturday, it would be a fifth state gold,” said Lake-Lehman coach John Sobocinski, who also guided Hockenbury’s two state championships in cross country. “Five state golds is once in a lifetime.
“Which is really what Dom is.”
“I feel after doing it so many times, I’m expected to do it this time,” Hockenbury said. “It’s not so much hoping so. It’s going out and doing what you need to do. This is the best shape I’ve ever been in. I’m really anxious to see what I can run with a good race.”
Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski