By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (April 15, 2016) — Many young athletes would already be satisfied.
Qualifying for an area track and field meet in five events is quite the accomplishment, after all. Especially as a sophomore.
But Hailey Martin isn’t satisfied a bit. She has bigger goals.
And goal setting is something the Stephenville star has down pat. She woke up Wednesday morning and wrote her triple jump goal – 36 feet – on her hand, then went out and jumped a career-best 36-4.25 to win the District 6-4A title.
“I’m thinking 36-11,” Martin answered when asked what she would be writing on her hand before the District 5-6 area meet next Thursday at Mineral Wells. “Writing it on my hand just ingrains it in my mind and helps me to focus on it.”
The ability to write down a goal then go out and achieve it is one thing, but what makes Martin so versatile – and valuable – for the Honeybee track team is that she compartmentalizes those goals so well. As soon as triple jump was over the moment was put away to celebrate again later, when she didn’t still have other events to report for.
Events like the long jump, which she also won and is the favorite to win at area. And the 100 meter hurdles, where she was second place, beating third-place freshman teammate Bailey McBee by a fraction of a step at the wire. And the 4×100 and 4×200 relays, which also qualified for the area meet.
“She’s a fierce competitor, and one of the things she has is the will to work. Everyone has the will to win, but Hailey has the will to work to get better,” said Stephenville girls track coach and interim athletic director Mike Copeland. “Her coach-ability is outstanding and her versatility makes her invaluable to our program.”
Martin had to think for a moment before picking a favorite event.
“The hurdles are probably my favorite right now, but I love the long and triple, too,” Martin said. “And I like when we run the relays because it’s a team thing and there isn’t as much pressure on you individually. It’s fun because we’re a family.”
And family goals come even before her own lofty aspirations at area.
“My biggest goal at area is to beat Wylie in the sprint relay, because that’s been one of our bigger team goals all year,” she said.
Martin reached the area meet as a freshman last year, but missed the cut for regionals, which she aspires to qualify for – in multiple events – this time around.
“Going into area as a freshman last year, I was really nervous,” Martin admits. “Hopefully this time I can stay calm, but still compete with a chip on my shoulder at the same time.”
Her times and distances stack up well when comparing area qualifiers from both districts.
A Burkburnett jumper won both the triple and long jump in 5-4A and figures to be Martin’s toughest competition in both events at area. Martin went 17-0 in long jump at district, while the 5-4A champ went 16-9.25. The triple jump stacks up even closer with Martin jumping just 1/4 inch further than the 36-4 mark that won 5-4A.
“I know how Hailey is going to prepare and I know she’ll be ready to compete when we start Thursday,” Copeland said. “Someone is going to have to go out and beat their best and hers, because she’s going to put it all out there.”
On paper, the 100 meter hurdles race appears to be 6-4A’s to lose. The top three in 6-4A – Keeley Latham of Wylie in 15.5, Martin in 15.8 and McBee in 15.9 – were all faster than the 16.2 that won the 5-4A race.
Martin enjoys racing with McBee, though each is fully aware it could be the other keeping her from advancing.
“It’s fun running with her. I like to have someone pushing me, and last year it was harder because I was having to push myself. But with her being right there all the time, it makes me better every day,” Martin said. “I know she wants to make it to regionals, and I do, too, but we definitely work together and encourage each other. Hopefully both of us will make it.”
That would be just fine with Copeland.
“I’m very confident we can get both those girls out in the hurdles,” he said. “It would tickle me to death for them to get to run together at regionals.”
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