ON THE TRACK: Dallas Hoofard extended his track season to the maximum as one of the nine qualifiers for the finals of the 300 hurdles at the CIF State Championships. There, amid the heat and pressure-cooker environment in Clovis, he placed a gutsy sixth and earned a state medal. A fast start helped him. Alone in Lane 9 of the staggered start, Hoofard reached the first two hurdles ahead of the field, ran a quick turn and held on at the end. That's how he became the first Atwater High athlete in 20 years to medal at State. Coincidentally, the last Falcon to do it was Reuben Parrish with a sixth in the same event. Hoofard, the Section Masters champion in the intermediate hurdles and fourth in the 110s, ended the season as one of the Stanislaus District's most decorated athletes. To get there, he focused hard on track as a senior and was helped by Atwater hurdles coach Seneca Ybarra. "Going to State last year was something new. I had reached my goal. This year, I was expecting to go and reach the finals," Hoofard said. "In that (final) race, it becomes more mental. I felt mentally prepared for that race." Hoofard also was fast. His season best of 37.89 seconds, recorded at the Section Divisionals, vaulted him into seventh in the state at that time.
OFF THE TRACK: Hoofard, whose name comes from his father's passion for the Dallas Cowboys, was recognized for his state medal at a senior leadership meeting, which was a proud moment for him. Before his accomplishments on the track, he was better known on campus as a running back on the football team the past two seasons. "After I made it to State as a junior, track became more of an emphasis. Track was my ticket to college," he said. For the most telling view of Hoofard's progress, consider his beginning. In the first race of his career as an Atwater freshman, he fell twice and bled from both knees. He used the laughs he heard as motivation. By the way, that race happened in Clovis, where he finished in far different circumstances. "To come from there to where I am right now, it was a process and a half," he said.
LOOKING AHEAD: Hoofard weighed opportunities and, until this week, still had not made a choice. The only certainty is that he'll soon step over hurdles at a collegiate destination. He'll pursue a major in psychology, a not surprising choice. "I'm thinking about sports psychology. Your performance depends on so many things, sometimes on just how you feel that day," he said.
QUOTABLE: "Being on the podium was exciting (at State). Even though I had my little step, it was still the podium."