Cole Hocker nearly edges out Lowell teammates Sanchez & Hudak in the 2019 finals
The 2018-2019 school year was a time of 2nd place finishes for Gabe Sanchez when it came to the big time. He was runner-up at the state cross country meet in the fall. Then spring came around and he had to square off with Cole Hocker once again, but this time in the 800m. 2019-2020 started off as his year to finally be the top dawg in the state. Winning the cross country state title seemed to give him just the right confidence boost he would need coming into the track season.
Last season it looked like Cole Hocker would manage to lead the way to a record breaking state meet, potentially breaking either the 800 or 1600 records. Unfortunately, Hocker wasn't able to nab any new records, but he did get two more state titles to his senior year resume. Moving into 2020 the new question on people's mind became, could someone this year go after the 800m state record? And if so, who could do it?
If anyone was going to take a stab at it, it'd have to be Sanchez. Running a 1:49 solo is no easy task, so Sanchez would have likely needed help from the field. That was the biggest question? Who else could contend or even help Sanchez chase the state record? Jaylen Castillo of Fishers seemed like the next guy up. Castillo split a 1:52, leading Fishers to a 4x8 state title. He also ran 2:04 in the open 800, but it's safe to assume that Castillo wasn't all that worried after a blistering 1:52 split. He was on tired legs, and had done his work for the day. Kehinde Oladapo was another name to keep an eye on. Earlier on in the indoor season, Oladapo ran a 1:56 at the UK HS Invitational. That is very solid for that early on, and being indoors. Depending on Oladapo's fitness level come the state meet, he very well could have been low 1:50's and been a strong contender.
We caught up with Jake Rakoczy, the head boys track & field coach at Lowell, to get a breakdown of what exactly he had planned for Sanchez's senior season. "At first, like last year, we weren't sure. So, we were thinking 16, 8, 4x4 again for the state tournament."
But then during the winter they came up with this three point plan:
- 3200m at HSR
- Flashes Mile
- 800 and 4x4 for State
Rakoczy continued by saying, "The idea was that we'd get the 3200 and 16 out of his system in March and April, leaving the 800 to focus on with the goal of breaking 1:50".
Sanchez would've been the No. 4 returner in the 4A-6A 3200 this year, had we had a finals. He had not competed in the indoor season before the meet cancellations began towards the middle of March. In 2019, he ran a gutsy race early on, that sadly did not play out the way he likely had planned. He finished in 15th in 9:32.95.
Coach Rakoczy finally went on to recap how last year played out and what kind of jump it would have taken to get below the 1:50 mark, "Mudd's record of 1:49 is a huge jump from 1:51 but last year, we didn't decide on the 800m until 15 mins after the regional meet was over, and we were actually leaning toward the 1600 - because it would leave more rest time for the 4x4. Furthermore, the race at state was run pretty even - 400m split was 55.2 (2nd 400 56.5), and we thought that being focused on the 800, and understanding the necessary pacing, might have given Gabe a chance to break 1:50, and maybe, just maybe, give him a shot at Mudds record"
Gabe Sanchez at the state cross country meet was one to watch. Seeing him in one last track season as well, would have been pure excellence at it's finest. Unfortunately we will not get that chance and Austin Mudd's impressive record time of 1:49.25 will live on another year.
Sanchez after winning the state xc meet