Dominic Hockenbury maintained a heavier training workload during the 2014 high school track and field season.
Hockenbury realized the benefits of the more demanding workouts May 24 at Shippensburg University when he produced a career-best time by more than five seconds while winning the state Class AA boys 3200-meter title at the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Track and Field Championships.
The Lake-Lehman sophomore moved into the lead midway through the race and quickly pulled away from the pack. Before long, it was clear he was not going to be caught.
“Once I went out and the pace settled in, everything felt great,” Hockenbury said. “I was able to take off and break away.
“With a lap or two left to go, I kind of started to realize that I had it. But I thought in the back of my head ‘maybe somebody is close enough to me to outkick me,’ so I never looked back and I never slowed down.”
Hockenbury finished in 9:17.18, more than 14 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
“What we really focused on this year that we haven’t done in the past is we really maintained higher mileage throughout the season,” Hockenbury said before celebrating his title with teammates and other runners at home the night after returning. “Then, we made sure I took it easy and peaked at the right time.”
Hockenbury, a state runner-up in cross country, reached the top of the medal stand in track season. He arrived there on a day when two other elite Back Mountain distance runners, and former state champions, were completing outstanding careers.
Dallas seniors Regan Rome and Dominic DeLuca claimed their latest state medals, also in the 3200. Rome finished second in Class AAA girls and DeLuca fifth in Class AAA boys.
Hockenbury was not the only sophomore to excel.
Dallas sophomore Katie Kravitsky finished fourth in the high jump, clearing 5-6 and winning a tiebreaker over two others who made that height but had more misses.
Kravitsky joined with Regan Rome to help Dallas compile 13 points and finish 14th in the state as a team.
About the time Rome was beginning to dominate on the high school level, Hockenbury was first taking up the sport.
Hockenbury joined the Lake-Lehman junior high cross country team in seventh grade, picking up a sport his father George had competed in at Hanover Area and Wilkes University.
Already a state champion, he still has two years left in his high school career.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Hockenbury said. “I know we’re going to be working on some of the shorter races again and we’re always going to be trying to drop my two-mile (3200) time.”
The time Rome put up in her silver medal effort made the National Federation of High School State Athletic Association Honor Roll. She finished in 10:31.58, second to Pennridge’s Marissa Sheva, who won in 10:25.85.
Rome finished her career with eight state individual medals as well as state team gold (2013) and silver (2012) medals in cross country. She finished sixth, third and fourth in the 3200 in her previous three seasons. In cross country, Rome finished 20th in the state as a freshman, then moved up to fifth, third and second.
On the district level, Rome was a four-time individual and three-time team champion in cross country. She won the 3200 in track three times and finished second as a junior. She won the 1600 as a senior and sophomore and finished second as a freshman.
DeLuca, the state Class AA cross country champion last fall, finished fifth in a strong field with a time of 9:07.33. Each of the four ahead of him met the National Federation Honor Roll time.
This was the first state track medal for DeLuca, who has two in cross country, including for an 11th-place finish as a junior.
DeLuca set the District 2 3200-meter record while repeating as champion this year and also added a 1600 title. In cross country, he earned district gold, silver and bronze individual medals and was the leader of a team championship as a sophomore.
Lake-Lehman freshman Emily Johns missed a state medal by one spot in the discus, placing ninth with a throw of 118-6. She also completed in the shot put, taking 17th with 35-3 ½, and the javelin, taking 26th in 90-5. Teammate Cayle Spencer was 16th in the javelin with a throw of 114-7.
Lindsey Oremus of Dallas missed the 1600-meter final by 24-hundredths of a second when she finished 13th in 5:08.26 during qualifying, which sent 12 to the finals.
Oremus and Ally Rome joined the medalists and Johns’ discus effort in finishing in the top half of the field at the state meet.
Ally Rome, Regan’s sister, was 13th in the 3200 in 11:15.09.
Catie Gawlas of Dallas was 19th in the 200 in 26.29.
Tunkhannock had Jack Tidball take 19th in the boys 3200 and Morgan Phillips take 26th in the girls shot put.