TMP's Hageman learning the high school ropes
By KLINT SPILLER
Thomas More Prep-Marian freshman Bailey Hageman was angry after her first meet.
Hageman finished second in the 100-meter hurdles in 17.35 seconds, and frankly, first place wasn't even close to her. Hutchinson-Trinity freshman Rhiannon Vieyra won in 16.04 seconds.
It served as a wake-up call.
Getting second was a foreign feeling for Hageman, who went undefeated throughout middle school in the 100 hurdles.
She learned quickly that high school competition was much different than middle school.
"I was really mad, but I guess it pushed me to improve," Hageman said.
Hageman has been a constant placer for the TMP girls' track and field team this season, and TMP track and field coach Matt Dumler said she has a bright future.
However, Dumler is patient with her current results. She faces stiff competition at the Class 3A regional next week in Holcomb, which features talented runners from Scott City, Cimarron and Kingman. Hageman likely will have to break her personal best to make state.
"(Freshmen) get here and are facing competition that is stronger and faster than them," Dumler said. "They are chasing them, and they've never been in that position. Bailey has done a nice job of adapting to that. We've kind of had to explain to some of these freshmen that you aren't going to dominate like you have."
Dumler said he expects Hageman to be a significant contributer at the Mid-Central Activities Association meet today at Lewis Field Stadium.
But to make a name for herself on the state level, Hageman still has much to learn and room to grow.
One area she has focused on this season is her approach.
For her career, Hageman used four steps in between each hurdle. Dumler and TMP's assistant coaches want her to lengthen her stride and limit those steps to three -- a significant mental and physical barrier for a hurdler.
She has attempted it in practice, but she hasn't successfully done it at a meet yet.
"A lot of that for her right now is just mental," Dumler said.
"That's a hard thing to think I'm going to take just three steps between these hurdles, and then I'm going to go."
Hageman is a quick learner, though.
She didn't even attempt hurdles until middle school when Kennedy coach Brandon Maska convinced her to try them. Her athleticism carried her at meets, and she never lost a middle school race.
"I'm fast, and I was flexible," Hageman said regarding why Maska thought she might be good at it.
Even veteran hurdlers struggle with their three-step approach sometimes. Dumler said junior Mikaela Flax, a former state qualifier, still goes back and forth between three and four steps during races.
So when Hageman does learn how to three step, Dumler said it will cut her time greatly, and he expects her to become one of the premier hurdlers in Class 3A.
"We expect big things from her in the future," Dumler said.