When Dominic Hockenbury won his first high school cross country invitational, he never lost sight of his ultimate goals for this, his sophomore season at Lake-Lehman.
“The goal is to run in the low-16s on the state course,” Hockenbury said after breaking 16 minutes in his win at Scranton’s McDade Park in the Lackawanna County Commissioners Invitational on Sept. 14.
Hockenbury took a major step toward that goal and added a second invitational title on Sept. 21 when he won the Class AA boys race at the PIAA Foundation Invitational, leading a field of 182 runners in 16:43 on the Hershey Parkview Course that will host the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships in November.
Continuing to lower that time would allow Hockenbury to repeat as a state medalist and likely move up the ranks in the process.
Because of the number of top teams and runners from around the state that compete, the PIAA Foundation Invitational is often seen as an unofficial preview of the state meet.
Defending state champion Pottsgrove won the Class AA boys team title where Lake-Lehman finished 17th of 26 teams.
Last year, Hockenbury ran a 16:56 while finishing 22nd in the state. He was one of only five underclassmen in the top 23 in the state in his class and the top freshman.
Dominic DeLuca, of Dallas, the top returning AA boys runner after placing 11th in the state in 16:44 last year, did not compete. Bryan Mattson, one of DeLuca’s Dallas teammates competing as individuals, finished 10th in 17:37.
DeLuca and Hockenbury should both be viewed as state threats as cross country moves toward its postseason. Dallas will tryi to capture Wyoming Valley Conference boys and girls titles when it closes the regular season Wednesday in a cluster meet that includes top threat Tunkhannock and Lake-Lehman.
The following two Wednesdays are the WVC Meet and the District 2 championships. Runners qualify for states at the district meet.