This was Sara Hoskins’ last chance for a championship coronation at Drake Stadium.
Third place as a sophomore and runner-up as a junior, the Pleasant Valley high jump standout was on the right trajectory to finish her high school career as a state champion this spring.
Then like every high school athlete across the state this spring, it was snatched away.
Hoskins and her teammates were scheduled to be inside Drake Stadium on Thursday for the opening day of the Iowa coed state track and field championships. Instead, the blue oval will be silent as the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out the season.
“I was ready to come out fighting because I had a lot of goals this season and knowing I won’t be able to achieve them in a Spartan uniform is something I haven’t fully dealt with,” Hoskins said. “There have been moments I’ve sat down, thought about it and been really sad.
“This weekend now is really hard to deal with.”
Besides Drake Relays and state championship aspirations, Hoskins had Kelli DeGeorge’s school record of 5 feet, 8 ½ inches in her sight this spring.
Hoskins, who missed part of the indoor season with a back injury, cleared 5-4 in her only competition before the pandemic. She sailed over the bar at 5-6 last year at Drake and state.
Also a starting libero on PV’s volleyball team, Hoskins made a commitment to the weight room in the offseason.
“Even in that first meet, I immediately felt I had a lot more power,” Hoskins said. “I felt throughout the season I would have been able to use that new-found power to my advantage.
“A big goal was to break Kelli’s record, and now knowing that’s not possible anymore, I’ve got my own goals for the next level.”
Hoskins will play volleyball and high jump at Loras College starting in the fall. She has started working out three times a week along with logging close to 30 hours a week at Hy-Vee.
“It keeps my mind busy,” Hoskins said. “When I just sit at home and think my own thoughts, it isn’t a good place sometimes. Being at work lightens the mood a lot.”
Hoskins is ready to embark on a chaotic schedule at Loras. In addition to juggling two sports, she plans to pursue a degree in engineering.
“Being on a strict schedule will keep me in line,” she said. “Not that I was ever out of line, but I need structure in my life and I need the busyness. Doing two sports, I’m just excited to see how I handle it.”
Losing out on the final season of high school track and field has invigorated Hoskins. She is eager for the opportunity to compete at Loras, a Division III program in the American Rivers Conference.
Morgan Ramirez, a sprinter for PV, will join Hoskins on the squad at Loras.
“My drive is nothing like I have experienced,” Hoskins said. “I have a drive to win. In the past, it was about small goals I wanted to accomplish and not so much about winning or the place.
“Next year when I compete and realize my senior season was stripped away, it increases my excitement, drive and purpose.”
Still, Hoskins admits the next several days will be difficult.
It wasn't just the competition inside Drake Stadium. It was the van ride to Des Moines. It was hanging out in the hotel and having dinner with her teammates.
"When we got to districts and state, our team becomes so connected," Hoskins said. "I remember jamming out with all the distance girls on the ride. We didn't have a voice by the time we got there.
"Those team moments, and then hearing my teammates' excitement when I cleared a jump, you look back on those all the time. There is something so special about the blue oval. I'm sure going to miss it a lot."
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