DIMOCK — According to Dominic Hockenbury’s season-long master plan, the best is yet to come for the Lake-Lehman senior.
Hockenbury has already reached levels that are unmatched in the six years that Elk Lake has been hosting the District 2 Cross Country Championships.
The defending state champion’s winning time of 15:47 while repeating as Class 2A boys champion Saturday is the fastest ever run in a district race at Elk Lake in any classification.
“Everything is going exactly according to plan,” Hockenbury said. “I’ve been getting into better shape, my times have been getting faster and I’ve been feeling better as the season goes along.
“That’s what we want. We don’t want to be at our best at the beginning of the season. We want an uphill climb.”
Before winning the state title last year, Hockenbury was state runner-up as a sophomore behind Dominic DeLuca from Dallas. It was DeLuca’s record of 15:53 that he broke Saturday.
Hockenbury’s past accomplishments have allowed him to point his senior season not only toward the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships Nov. 7 at the Hershey Parkview Course, but also to two weeks after that for Foot Locker Regionals where he wants to qualify for the national high school championships.
“The goal is to be in my best shape two weeks after states,” said Hockenbury, who won by 26 seconds over North Pocono’s Matt Kravitz.
Wyoming Valley Conference runners won two of the three individual boys titles.
Matt Houser from Hazleton Area, a second-place finisher a year ago, won the District 2-4 Class 3A Subregional title by four seconds over Williamsport’s Tyler Holcomb in 17:09.
Houser and Hockenbury were among the eight WVC boys who claimed the 20 available individual berths from the district for the state meet in Hershey.
While Wallenpaupack was finishing strong as a team to pick up the places it used to turn back the Hazleton Area team, Houser was making a similar move individually.
“We had a plan to get out in front and run with the lead group,” Hazleton Area coach Jason Smolinsky said. “Right around two miles in was where he made his move. He was sitting in third or fourth place for most of the first half of the race.
“He’s a strong kid. I knew the top of the hill at the two-mile mark, that’s where his strength was going to show through.
“From there, that’s where he led the way. He ran a good race.”
Franklin Cunningham, Houser’s sophomore teammate, was the other 3A runner to advance after placing fourth.
Tunkhannock’s Jacob Toczko, a returning state medalist, was third in 2A.
Coughlin’s Franco Balbuena was seventh and Lake-Lehman’s Chris Sabol was 12th to also claim spots among the top 10 runners who were not part of the two qualifying teams in 2A.
The same format existed in Class A where Tim Snyder of Meyers and Eamon Gibbons from Wyoming Seminary qualified.
Snyder made it by finishing eight while entered as an individual because Meyers did not have the necessary five runners to compete as a team.
Gibbons grabbed the last available spot by finishing 18th.