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All-Mid-Valley boys track: Hedgecock won three state titles


1:00 AM, Jun. 18, 2012 EDT

A.J. Hedgecock. / KOBBI R. BLAIR / Statesman Journal

DAYTON — 

The first thing people notice is the tattoos.

A.J. Hedgecock's right arm is nearly sleeved in designs, as is his back with a cross and the 23rd Psalm and the new one on his left side has his siblings' names.

What the recent graduate of Dayton High School has done with the 6-foot, 190-pound frame under the tattoos this season has been amazing.

Already a state player of the year in two sports in his senior year, Hedgecock added three state championships -- 100 meter dash, long jump and discus -- this spring and established himself as one of the best athletes in the state at any level.

"It doesn't get much better," Hedgecock said.

Hedgecock scored a meet-best 38 points at this year's Class 3A state meet (he also placed second in the triple jump) to lead Dayton to a second-place finish and is the Statesman Journal All-Mid-Valley boys track and field athlete of the year.

It caps a successful senior year, the kind of which most athletes could dream.

In football Hedgecock was the 3A co-offensive player of the year and the Pirates were the state runner-up.

In basketball Hedgecock was the 3A player of the year and the Pirates won the state championship.

Hedgecock improved his marks in nearly every event this spring.

He dropped his times in the 100 (10.99) and 200 (23.94) and increased his marks in the shot put (42-9½), discus (159-5), triple jump (43-5¾) and long jump (22-3½).

Hedgecock attributes some of his improvement in track and field this season to training with Dayton alumni Dante Rosario (who plays for the San Diego Chargers) and Corey Sutton.

He and fellow Dayton senior Hayden Craig, who has signed to play football at Montana, traveled three days a week to a middle school in Sherwood and went through a number of drills designed to improve their strength, speed, endurance and agility.

"We're getting to work out with an NFL player and getting to work out with Corey, who is one of the best trainers around," said Hedgeocck, valedictorian of his class. "That was a blessing."

Hedgecock said he gave serious consideration to playing baseball this spring as well as competing in track and field.

He said that he and Craig, an all-state firstbaseman as a junior, would have done both sports together

But the time commitment was too much and Craig switched to competing in track and field and won the state championship in the shot put and the pair went 1 and 2 in the discus.

"We just kind of decided it wasn't going to work out," Hedgecock said.

He said he had scholarship offers to compete in the decathlon at Oregon and Montana, play football and basketball at Western Oregon, play basketball at Alaska Anchorage and basketball and track and field at junior colleges as well as much interest from Division III schools.

Despite the Division I interest for him in track and field, Hedgecock will walk on to Oregon State's football team.

"It's the type of sport for me where in high school it was really fun, it helped me with all my other sports, but I couldn't just do that one sport year round," Hedgecock said.

He said he has scholarships that will cover much of his expenses to attend the school.

He said the football coaching staff encouraged him to contact Oregon State track and field coach Kelly Sullivan, and he did.

Hedgecock may not have competed in his final track and field meet.

"It's just really cool for them that they're getting their program back up and running," Hedgecock said. "I think just from the football team they could make a pretty good track team."

Knowing he had an NFL player to learn from in Rosario, Hedgecock not only got the physical benefit, but learned a lesson from him.

"Even if you know that someone's better than you, you have to show that you have the confidence that you can play with anybody," Hedgecock said.

"You have to act like you're the best guy on the field. Not in a cocky way, but don't back down to people ever, and present yourself in a way that you know you're going to be successful."

 

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