Escalante’s Hailey Whitaker Earns Four Medals, Win 300-Meter Hurdles

by Staff Reporter / May 10, 2017 / comments
Escalante’s Hailey Whitaker (Number 3) clears a hurdle and wins the 300-meter hurdles, beating Cloudcroft’s Ella Puckett. Photo courtesy of John Denne

Escalante’s Hailey Whitaker Earns Four Medals, Win 300-Meter Hurdles

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

Escalante High School sophomore Hailey Whitaker earned medals at the 2017 Class A-3A track and field meet at the Great Friends of UNM track and field facilities May5-6 in Albuquerque. Whitaker earned her first gold medal of what promises to be a long and successful career for the Lady Lobos. Whitaker had earned four medals as a freshman at the 2016 state track and field meet.

Competing in the 300-meter hurdles, Whitaker, who had finished second in that event last year, faced some stiff competition from Cloudcroft High School’s Ella Puckett. Whitaker had the fastest time in the preliminary heats May 5, but Puckett was just .07 seconds behind her. A mistake like hitting a hurdle or a bad start could make the difference.

Whitaker clears the last hurdle in the 300 to win the race. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Just as it had been in the preliminary heat, Whitaker and Puckett soon left the other hurdlers behind in the finals May 6. It was a two-person race to see who would be first across the finish line. Whitaker was the first one over the last hurdle and she crossed the finish line in first place with a time of 47.59 seconds, just .12 seconds ahead of Puckett.

“I wanted this race,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker rounding the curve in the 300-meter hurdles. Photo courtesy of John Denne

All the mistakes she didn’t make in the 300-meter hurdles Whitaker had made in the 100-meter hurdles. She had the third-fastest qualifying time going into the finals, but faded badly in the finals. She did manage to hold onto sixth place to earn a medal, but her time of 17.51 seconds was well off her preliminary time of 16.91 seconds.

Whitaker talking with sports report George Morse with the Valley Daily Post after winning the 300-meter hurdles. Photo courtesy of John Denne

“I had a bad start,” Whitaker said. “I kept hitting hurdles.”

Whitaker had started the meet taking third in the long jump May 5 with a leap of 16 feet, 4 inches-a personal best. She finished the meet taking second in the 100-meter dash.