Sherod Hardt needed one state title in track to appease himself, and he finally got it this year as a senior.
Then came another. And another.
After years of near-misses, the Queen Creek distance runner capped off a memorable senior season by winning three individual titles and leading the Bulldogs to the 4A-I boys state championship.
Hardt, an accomplished distance runner, took home the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter crowns, but saved his most improbable victory for last.
The 800-meter run was an irregular event to Hardt until this year, and he didn’t hold out much hope of winning the race at state.
"That race was stacked (with good competitors)," Hardt said.
Not only was it his worst race, Hardt had just finished the mile two hours earlier, and this was his final event of the day.
He didn’t believe he had a shot until the final 100 meters, when Hardt used a late kick to pass three runners and grab the title.
"That's when I really made my move," Hardt said. "That really surprised me. I have never outkicked someone in the 800 meters."
Hardt had plenty of motivation coming into this season.
His sisters, Whitney and Kari, had both won state titles early in their careers, and current distance runner Brian Shrader had kept him from taking home a state title in the first three years of high school.
"That definitely weighed on my mind," Hardt said.
A classification switch moved Queen Creek up to 4A-I, splitting up Shrader and Hardt and giving him an easier shot at the titles.
But regardless of class, Hardt had the fastest 1,600-meter run of anyone in the state, including Shrader.
"I had finished behind Brian Shrader a lot," Hardt said. "Coming into my senior year, I wouldn't have pushed myself as much as
I did without (that rivalry). I think that helps tremendously. That competitiveness gives you something to work for when you’re training.
"It’s fun to have a friend in your sport."
Despite the lack of titles, Hardt said he never felt frustration heading into this year.
"I just needed to train right and do the right things," Hardt said. "I knew I could do it."
All-Tribune Boys Track First Team
ATHLETE SCHOOL YR. EVENT COMMENT
Anders Battle Desert Vista Sr. 100 2nd in 5A-I by .02 seconds
Jordan Hill Hamilton Sr. 200 Third in 5A-I; fifth-fastest in state
Dylan Hambright Arcadia Jr. 400 Captured 4A-II title by more than a second
Sherod Hardt Queen Creek Sr. 800 Fastest in E.V.; also won 1,600, 3,200
Thomas Williams Brophy Jr. 1,600 Won state title in 5A-I
Matt Whitlach Corona del Sol Sr. 3,200 Captured 5A-I title
Cameron Taylor Westwood Jr. 110HH Cruised to 5A-I state title; fastest in state
Harry Danilevics Brophy Sr. 300IH 5A-I title, fastest in state
Gerard Ingallina Hamilton Sr. Shot Put 5A-I title, second-best mark in state
Geoff Roxborough Brophy Sr. Discus Second in state
Breylan Uchytil Mountain View Jr. High Jump Won 5A-I by clearing 6-7
Lewis Todd Chandler Sr. Triple Jump Won 5A-I title by nearly four inches
Aaron Hill Williams Field Sr. Long Jump State title, 23-6 longest jump in AZ this year
Alex Bishop Brophy Sr. Pole Vault Only E.V. vaulter over 16 feet; won state at 16-4.75
All-Tribune Boys Track Second Team
ATHLETE SCHOOL YR. EVENT COMMENT
Devon Allen Brophy Fr. 100 Third in 100, fifth in 200; bright future
Joshua Rushing Chandler Sr. 200 Fourth in 5A-I; elite 100 runner as well
Ronnie Sanchez Perry Jr. 400 5A-II state title in 48.88 seconds
Jared Gonzales Chandler Sr. 800 Second in 5A-I by a hair
Garrett Baker-Slama Corona Del Sol Sr. 1,600 Second at 5A-I state meet
Andrew Hagler Chandler Sr. 3,200 Ran a sub-9:30 at Chandler Rotary
Yusuf Muhammad Chandler Sr. 110HH 2nd at state in 110, 300 hurdles
Le'Sean Marks Hamilton Sr. 300IH Third at state, seventh in high hurdles
Mo Latu Perry Jr. Shot Put Third in 5A-II at state
Andrew Hurley Pinnacle Sr. Discus Second in 5A-II
Dimitri Jones Higley Sr. High Jump Second in 4A-II at 6-6
Craig Pearson Mountain View Sr. Triple Jump Second longest jump this year; 3rd at state
Charles Robinson Mesquite Jr. Long Jump Second in 5A-I, fourth-best in state
Jake Jarvis Mountain View Jr. Pole Vault Second at state with a 15-3
Basha: Cody Roberts, Sr., SP; Chandler: Michael Okonkwo, Jr., HJ; Chaparral: Cody Moore, Jr., TJ; Coronado: Kwame Webster, Sr., 400; Desert Mountain: Troy Kellers, Sr., 3,200; Desert Vista: Edmond Baker, Jr., HJ; Chris Whitton, Sr., PV; Gilbert: Zack Peschke, So., TJ; Higley: Michael Strnad, So., 100, 200; Horizon: Tyler Larson, Sr., PV; McClintock: Hayden Tippett, Sr., SP; Mesa: J.D. Castille, Sr., 400; Dominick Decono, Sr., 110HH; Mountain View: Justin Neuman, Jr., 400; Spencer Frame, Sr., 800; Jake Jarvis, Jr., PV; Gerry Langford, Sr., Dis; Notre Dame: Brent Prather, Jr., PV; Brian Canavan, Jr., 400; Mike Foley, So., Dis; Queen Creek: Josh Nielson, Jr., LJ; Vernon Jamison, Jr., 110HH; Colton Lock, Jr., 110HH, 300IH; Jake Hamblin, Jr., HJ; T.J. Harris, Sr., PV; Daniel Bowman, Sr., PV; Seton: Kevin McDonald, Jr., SP; Tempe Prep: Rocky Brittain, Jr., 100, 200; Pau Tonneson, Jr., TJ, HJ, LJ; Valley Christian: Scott Kuiper, Sr., PV; Addison Bare, Sr., LJ, TJ; Williams Field: Tim Butticci, Jr., TJ; Westwood: Valencio Gray, Jr., 400.
Memorable moments from 2010 season
Dominance: The Queen Creek boys team wasn’t happy with a third-place finish in 2009, so it was sure to take any suspense out of this year’s 4A-II state meet. Led by Sherod Hardt’s three individual titles, the Bulldogs racked up the points early and often to finish with 108 points, outdistancing second-place Tucson Canyon del Oro by 46 points. Queen Creek had an athlete finish in the top-3 of an event 10 different times.
Dueling Strengths: The Chandler boys team has traditionally been strong in the sprint races and the jumps. Mountain View excels at the distance events and the throws. It held true to form this year, and the contest for the 5A-I team title was a heated one. The Toros ended up with 88 points, which wasn’t quite enough as the Wolves scored 92.16. Desert Vista (76.66) and Brophy (75) were also in the mix in a solid meet.