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After another excellent season, Hooker has chip on shoulder heading into 2015

Published: Sunday, June 15, 2014 11:20 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 8:20 a.m. CDT
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(Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Sycamore's Dion Hooker is the 2014 Daily Chronicle boys track athlete of the year.

After the initial pain and frustration subsided, Dion Hooker was able to look back positively on the memorable track and field season he had.

“Placing down at state, you can never not be satisfied,” he said. “Having won state last year and not getting another victory this year is a little disappointing, but I’m still satisfied with my performance.”

Disappointment is understandable. The Sycamore junior came into the Class 2A state meet as the reigning champion in the 200-meter dash and improved upon his time, but he finished fourth with a mark of 22.13 seconds.

But the 100 was an even more gut-wrenching finish. Hooker once again improved upon his time from last season, finishing in 10.84, but came in one one-hundredth of a second behind Chicago Dunbar’s Demoria Harris, who won the 200 as well.

“It was right there, and I didn’t pull it out,” Hooker said. “I think that’s going to haunt me all throughout the offseason, and I think that’s just going to motivate me even more for next year.”

It was still an outstanding season for Hooker, who repeats as the Daily Chronicle Boys Track Athlete of the Year.

It’s not often someone of Hooker’s caliber carries a chip on his shoulder. He finished this year with conference and sectional titles in both the 100 and 200, and was part of the Spartans’ sectional champion 4x100 relay team.

After three years, he boasts three trips to the state meet, and he’s still not done. Sycamore coach Pete Piccony is ecstatic that he’s got Hooker around for another year, because he’s not only a great athlete, but he makes his teammates better, too.

“When you have someone like that to train next to, it only makes everyone better,” Piccony said. “Dion’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime type of athletes that a coach is only going to see come along once a career.”

And he brings a work ethic and drive to succeed that isn’t seen often either. Piccony calls him “a workhorse” who is never satisfied unless he’s in first place. That’s why the goal is to win is to win both the 100 and 200 in his senior year.

To do that, Hooker will have to work hard, but he’ll have to be smart as well. Going up against Harris showed him where his times need to be, and he and Piccony have set up a plan to make sure he’s running his best when the state meet comes back around.

“You really need to be smart about how you train and how you practice,” Hooker said. “You want to be smart about knowing what your body’s telling you, and you want to peak towards the end of the season when it really matters.”

Two medals from state have quickly become secondary to Hooker’s focus on next year. After the disappointment of not finishing first in either event, not even those will be enough to satisfy him in 2015.

Even with his blazing speed, Hooker has consistently improved his times over three seasons at Sycamore. So in Piccony’s view, there’s no telling how good he could be a year from now.

“The sky’s the limit, really," Piccony said.

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