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Dion Hooker leaves Charleston with two state medals

Published: Saturday, May 31, 2014 9:13 p.m. CST • Updated: Monday, June 2, 2014 8:47 a.m. CST
Caption
(Douglas Cottle for Shaw Media)
Kaneland's Nate Dyer competes in the Class 2A discus throw during Saturday's state final at Eastern Illinois University's O'Brien Stadium in Charleston.

CHARLESTON – A few hours before missing his chance to repeat as Class 2A boys track and field state champion in the 200 meters, Sycamore junior Dion Hooker endured something arguably more excruciating in the 100.

Hooker charged nearly stride for stride with Chicago Dunbar's Demoria Harris, then glanced at the scoreboard at Eastern Illinois' O'Brien Stadium to confirm he had fallen short by the slimmest of margins – 10.83 seconds to 10.84.

Harris emerged the victor in the 200, as well, as Hooker took fourth, .53 seconds off the pace. While Harris' efforts weren't lost on Hooker or a sun-splashed Spartans crowd supporting him, neither was the fact Hooker left for home with two state medals.

"Not completely satisfied with my performance," Hooker said. "I definitely could have done a little better, but, you know, I'm still happy overall."

Hooker's efforts represented a marked turnaround from the Spartans' first final of the day, when a false start disqualified the 4x100 relay team from the race. Eventual Class 2A runner-up Kaneland later was disqualified on the final baton exchange.

"Obviously, we thought we could do good in that, so we were disappointed," would-be senior anchor Logan Schneider said. " But we know things like that happen, so just have to let it go."

While it wasn't in the ideal manner, the remaining Spartans acquired some extra stamina as a result of the DQ.

Schneider cited the frustrating result as one reason he emerged as state runner-up in the 110 hurdles later in the day. His personal-best time of 14.47 was five hundredths of a second behind standout Gary Hickman of Cahokia, the 2A team champ for the fourth straight season.

"Otherwise I'd be tired and I'd normally bump one of the hurdles, and that would slow my momentum," Schneider said.

Kaneland could attest to the importance of momentum after beginning the day about as solidly as it could have expected with early titles in the shot put and long jump.

Nate Dyer heaved a personal-best put of 58 feet, 5 1/4 inches before Ben Barnes also established a PR of 23-5 in the long jump.

"The vibe here was just really good coming into today," Dyer said. "Throwing a PR today was huge. Didn't expect it, but it happened."

Barnes channeled similar motivation. Cahokia's Jamari Ward, the defending champion in the event, passed on a late attempt after suffering an injury. Acting on the advice of jumps coach Ryan Gierke, one of a handful of coaches paying it forward at his alma mater, Barnes shifted his starting mark back a few paces to build more speed on the straightaway.

It worked.

"I just had the mind frame that it could be my last jump all year," Barnes said. "Just might as well go out with something special."

Cahokia scored 90 team points, six better than Kaneland. Sycamore finished sixth with 26 points.

"Just keep training in the offseason, keep working and, you know, the ultimate goal is to improve for next year," Hooker said.

In Class 3A, DeKalb senior Misha Ryzhov took 19th in the 3,200, finishing in 9:37.96. Hiawatha's Phillip Nordgren was 22nd in the Class 1A 3,200 at 10:27.41.

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