BLOOMING GROVE —
Hunter Hawkins knew.
He felt it and knew it when he hit the two-mile mark of the race. That’s just about the time he pulled up to the shoulder of the No. 2 runner in the Class 2A Region Cross Country Meet on Saturday.
That’s when Hawkins knew he was headed for the state meet.
He got there in style, finishing third in the region meet to qualify for the Class 2A state championship meet on Saturday at Round Rock, where he hopes to run the best time of his life.
He has a good chance to beat his time of 17:04 that he ran on Saturday because he had to run in the mud at Humble, where the top three teams and the top 10 runners qualified for the state meet.
It didn’t matter to Hawkins, who would have run through a wall to get to state.
He had been so close before.
He was in the top 30 runners as a sophomore and after earning another trip to the region meet last year as a bigger and stronger junior he almost made it, finishing 13th in the field, just three spots away from state.
That’s why Saturday’s race meant so much to Hawkins, who won the District 9-2A meet easily and helped lead Blooming Grove to the boys team title.
Hawkins has run a personal best of 16:20, and he has already orally committed to Texas A&M at Commerce, where he plans on running long distance races in college.
But what happened on Saturday brought tears to his eyes.
“At about the two-mile mark he pulled up to the shoulder of the No. 2 runner,’’ said Hunter’s mother, Jody Hawkins, who coached cross country and distance running at Blooming Grove for years. She has a long list of accolades as a runner and a coach, but nothing made her happier than seeing her son reach one of his goals.
“When he pulled up to the No. 2 runner he looked over to his dad (Mark) and he kind of smiled,’’ she said.
That’s when Hawkins knew he was going to finish strong.
“You could see it. He was thinking, ‘This is my time,’” Jody Hawkins said. “And then you could see the tears in his eyes. He finished the race by outkicking the kid who was the 800-meter state champ to take third.’’
That’s how Hawkins finished the race, with a kick that sent him right to the state meet.
“He was so excited after the race,’’ Jody Hawkins said. “It has been a long time coming for him. He was really excited.’’
BLOOMING GROVE —
Hunter Hawkins knew.
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