By the time Dominic Hockenbury breezed across the state finish line with his second straight PIAA title, he’d already secured a spot in cross country history.
Now he’s looking for more.
Hockenbury, the Lake-Lehman long-distance champion and 2015 Times Leader Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year, became the first District 2 boys athlete to win consecutive Class 2A state championships behind a smooth stride and supreme confidence.
And he’ll take both to Syracuse University next season, where Hockenbury will keep trying to go distances nobody has gone before.
He was hoping to help the Orangemen become the first team east of the Mississippi River to win an NCAA since 1972, but his future college team already took the title this season without him.
So Hockenbury simply re-focused his goal. He’ll try to assist a Syracuse team trying to defend it’s national title.
“They ended up winning it,” Hockenbury, a Black Knights senior, said. “I know they’re already favored for next year.”
The son of Kim and George Hockenbury of Harveys Lake is no stranger to running in the favorite’s role.
He’s played it well, ending his spectacular high school cross country career with back-to-back District 2 and PIAA Class 2A titles.
“I was kind of sad and happy at the same point,” Hockenbury said. “I was sad, because I realized it was my last cross country season as a high school runner. I was happy because I won the state and disrict title again.”
That didn’t happen by accident.
A naturally gifted long-distance running talent who also won back-to-back track and field gold medals, Hockenbury works long and hard to perfect his strides – and his game plan – for races. In fact, that’s where some of his fondest memories are from.
“There were a couple of moments from during the season,” Hockenbury said. “I had a good string of really strong workouts I did. I was really happy with my time … definitely breaking the record at districts (this year) and in our league meet (last year).”
He timed his strides perfectly, winning he second straight PIAA gold medal in a time of 15:49 – five seconds in front of the state runner-up.
That came after he set the District 2 Class 2A record by winning in a time of 15:47.
How good was Hockenbury?
He wrapped up his spectacular career with four District 2 medals – a bronze as a freshman, a silver as a sophomore and two straight golds – and four state medals, after finishing 21st in PIAA competition as a freshman and second as a sophomore.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever see that again at Lake-Lehman,” Black Knights coach John Sobocinski said. “He’s so driven. He’s got so many goals.”
And now, he’ll carry them straight into a promising college future.
“At this point,” Hockenbury said, “it’s become an expectation.”
TIMES LEADER 2015 ALL-STAR TEAM
Earned a PIAA Class 2A medal by finishing 14th overall after taking a seventh-place medal at districts.
Finished 28th overall while boosting Dallas’ Class 2A state title run and medaled in sixth place in the District 2 field.
Ran to a District 2 Class 2A eighth-place medal, then turned in a 36th placing in the state field to help Dallas earn the PIAA team title.
Finished among the top 10 in the District 2 Class 2A field and bettered that time by 10 seconds to finish 48th at states.
Helped the Mountaineers to the Class 2A state team title by finishing 64th after finishing in the top 29 at districts.
Hazleton Area, Sr.
Captured the District 2 Class 3A gold medal with a winning time of 17:09.
Came in among the top 73 state runners to help drive the Mountaineers’ state title run after finishing 21st at districts.
Finished with a Class 2A bronze medal at districts and earned an 11th-place medal at states with a time of 16:29.
Finished 25th to place as the only medalist from Dallas’ Class 2A state championship team after placing fifth at districts.
Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski