At last ... a champion

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Hoop wins state championship in her final high-school race

By Brian Blair

It seemed like it was never going to happen. Instead, the final chapter of Danielle Hoop’s illustrious high school career had a very happy ending.
In the last race she would ever run in high school, Hoop won the state championship in the 800-meter run.
She won it in thrilling fashion as she edged out Ann Eason from Sayre School. The race was so close that officials had to get together to determine that Hoop won just .005 seconds.
“It was my last race I would ever run at the high-school level, and I won,” Hoop said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to win any other way.”
After getting off to a good start in the race and leading as she reached the final turn, Hoop had to come from behind over the last few meters and then “out-leaned” Eason at the finish line for the win.
Hoop’s time of 2:21.79 was not only good enough to win the race, but it also set a new school record. She broke the old record of 2:25.44 set by Heidi Williams.
Hoop said Williams had been providing her with some motivation to break the record. “She kept reminding me that she had the school record and that gave me more determination to break it.”
Hoop had been quite close to winning a championship in the past. She had finished second three times at the state cross-country meet — in 2005, 2007 and 2008. She also had a third-place finish in 2009. Her best finish in the state track meet came in 2008 when she finished third in the 400-meter dash.
“Honestly, I did not know what to expect after so many seasons of repeating second place,” Hoop said.
The senior, however, was relieved to finally “seal the deal” and claim a state championship.
“I thought of my brother scoring his only touchdown his last game of his senior year, and I wanted it to end the same way.”
Hoop not only won the 800-meter but she also performed well in a pair of other events.  
She placed fourth in the 1600-meter run with a time of 5:21.23 and in a tie for eighth in the high jump.
Hoop was also honored by receiving the Forcht Group Class 1A 2011 Sportsmanship Award. It is the same award she won at the state cross-county meet.
Hoop has signed to run next year at University of the Cumberlands.