SCRANTON – Dominic Hockenbury removed himself from the rest of the pack so quickly and clearly Tuesday night that he did not even appear to be part of a race.
While he may have seemed to be out for a run by himself during the District 2 Class AA Track and Field Championships boys 3200-meter run, Hockenbury was indeed in a race – against the clock.
Call it a split decision.
Hockenbury will have to wait at least another week in his pursuit to run 3200 meters – roughly two miles – in less than nine minutes. The defending state champion did, however, surpass his secondary goal by setting Tuesday’s only meet record when he finished in 9:13.79, almost two seconds faster than Rico Galassi from Holy Cross in 2013.
When Hockenbury gets to Shippensburg University for the May 27-28 PIAA Championships, the Syracuse University recruit will try to become the first Pennsylvania small school runner to break nine minutes at the state meet.
“This was not the greatest field to try to do it against, but the weather was right and there was an opportunity, so I decided to do it and see what happened,” said Hockenbury, who has run as fast as 9:03.45 two weeks ago in an invitational.
Hockenbury was scratched from the 800 and the 1600, where he was also the top seed, in the afternoon to concentrate on his main event.
After waiting around for hours, Hockenbury went out and ran a race that others in the field could only imagine.
Even though he knew he still had four laps to go, Hockenbury ran the first “mile” in 4:34.32, a time that would have been good enough for second in the 1600-meter run. His second “mile” was run in 4:39.47, which would have been good enough for fourth in the 1600 if that was all he was running.
Hockenbury’s slowest lap was the sixth of eight in 1:11.53. Runner-up Owen Brewer from Montrose was the only other runner out of 19 in the field to ran any lap faster than that after the first 400 meters.
Those split times, however, were a mild disappointment for Hockenbury. He has done the math enough to know quite simply that he must average 1:07.5 through all eight laps.
“I was on pace for (most of) the first three laps,” Hockenbury said. “I’m a little disappointed that I couldn’t stay there.”
Without a competitor chasing him Tuesday, it was not time.
“I feel like I’m in shape to go under nine,” Hockenbury said. “It’s just about getting the right race and putting everything together.
“When you’re by yourself and that little voice tells you ‘it hurts,’ you kind of sometimes listen to it. Today, I tried to block it out but that was hard to do once I heard a few of my splits called out.”
Hockenbury will be heading to Shippensburg with Lake-Lehman teammates.
Troy Borger, Zach Oulajahadamed, Tyler Billotti and Nick Eury teamed to win the 400 relay in 44.90 seconds.
The Black Knights finished 11th out of 16 teams with 31 points.
Eury also medaled in the 100, placing fourth in 11.49.
Chris Sabol was fifth in the 1600 and Joey Chaga tied for sixth in the pole vault for the team’s other medals.
Dallas resident Caroline Banas was one of the leaders of Holy Redeemer’s late charge to win the team title.
Banas repeated as high jump champion, clearing 5-6. She also finished second in the 400 and ran a leg on the 1600 relay that clinched the team title by finishing fifth.
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