One moment among all the celebrations May 17 will always stand out to Sugar-Salem High School’s Ryan Hawkes.
Shortly after learning they had swept the 3A state track team titles for the second year in a row at Middleton High School, the Diggers started celebrating. The girls won with 74.5 points to Payette’s 67, earning a three-peat, and the boys won by the narrow margin of 87-85 over Weiser to give them a repeat.
When it was Sugar-Salem head coach Brett Hill’s turn to hug Hawkes, he had some inspiring words for the junior.
“He looked at me with a smile on his face and said, ‘You did this. It’s because of you we went this far,’ ” Hawkes said. “That’s when I started crying.”
Not only did the Diggers sweep, but they did so with senior standouts Jordan Godby and Olivia Redd sidelined with injuries. Hawkes was one of their teammates to step up in their absence, accounting for 34 points by winning the long jump, taking second in triple jump, finishing third in the 100 and anchoring the state champion 4x100-meter relay team.
The state meet concluded a breakout year for Hawkes, who placed second in long jump at the 29-team BYU Invitational on May 3, accounted for 36 points in Sugar-Salem’s district championship and jumped a school record 22 feet, 2.25 inches to win long jump at state.
For his multi-event success and contributions to the state champion Diggers, Hawkes is the 2014 Post Register All-Area Male Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Hill anticipated a tight race for the 3A boys team title, but he had no idea Hawkes would perform at the level he did.
“I can’t really even say how big a contribution he had because everything he did was well beyond any of our wildest dreams,” Hill said. “He even exceeded what I anticipated to be his best performance. He’s the kind of young man who could probably go to the collegiate level and do decathlon.”
Hawkes, who is also a member of Sugar-Salem’s varsity boys basketball and soccer teams, has competed for the Diggers in track since his freshman year. His athletic prowess is no surprise considering the accomplishments of his older siblings. Older brothers Brandon and Dallas won state championships in high jump and triple jump, respectively. The seventh of 11 children, Hawkes is glad to have his own state title.
“There has always been a competition between me and my older brothers,” Hawkes said. “It’s finally nice to know I have bragging rights.”
Long jump and triple jump have long been Hawkes’s bread and butter, but he gradually expanded his repertoire to include more running events each year. Hill noticed Hawkes’ potential from his speed on the runway.
“I saw the speed and I said, ‘It’s time we put you in running events. We need you,’” Hill said. “He now believes himself not only a jumper.”
Hill’s observations proved telling, especially this season. Hawkes’s success in jumping events carried over into the 100 and 4x100, resulting in a school record 4x100 time of 44.21 and a personal best 11.30 in the 100 at state.
The 100 was tight throughout. Hawkes took third by 0.01 seconds to runner-up Tegon Tonge of Buhl, and edged out fourth-place finisher and 3A District 6 champion Elio Radovitch by 0.02 seconds.
“Just going out there and mustering up the strength, knowing that my team was counting on me to do my best … I really did it for my team,” Hawkes said.
Hawkes leaped a personal best 43-10 to take second by a quarter of an inch in triple jump. The highlight of state, however, was his long jump title that gave him the school record and made him one of four boys in Idaho regardless of classification to surpass 22 feet.
“It was one of the best feelings,” Hawkes said. “I always told people, ‘I’m gonna break the school record and I’m gonna win state.’ My team believed in me.”
Hill credits Hawkes’ success to working on the small things. He also described Hawkes as an athlete who thrives at big meets.
“That’s kind of the way I refer to Ryan is the thoroughbred,” Hill said. “Sometimes you get to those bigger meets, the pressure of those bigger meets bring out fear. Ryan’s the opposite. I think his confidence is something that’s uncharacteristic for most young men.”
Hawkes attributes his ability to perform under pressure to another one of his passions: ball room dancing.
“I’ve been a ballroom dancer for a long time, since second grade,” Hawkes said. “I’ve always known how to perform in front of a lot of people.”
With one year left at Sugar-Salem, Hawkes said he aspires to break the school records in the 100 and triple jump, break the 3A state long jump record of 47-10.25, win four golds at state and help the Digger boys three-peat. A college track scholarship and a future in decathlon are long-term goals.
“That’d be really cool to compete in a lot of events without being restricted, being able to prove my range and what I can do,” Hawkes said.