Photo by Diane Cox
Jordan Hawkins made his presence felt on the athletic scene at Roxana High School as a sophomore.
After rushing for 1,079 yards and 13 touchdowns on the football field in the fall, he capped the tremendous school year by finishing fourth at the Class 2A state meet in the discus during the track and field season.
Hawkins’ impressive showing helped lock down his pick as the 2016 AdVantage News Boys’ Track Athlete of the Year.
It was the first state medal in the discus for a boys’ trackster for the Shells and only the second medal as a thrower for the program. Dave Stanton finished sixth in the shot put for Roxana in 1969-70.
Erik Scott owns the only state championship for the Shells in the 110-meter high hurdles in 1993. So with two years of his prep career remaining, Hawkins already has put himself in elite status at Roxana.
“This feels awesome; track is one of my prides along with football,” Hawkins said. “Just to have my name on the banner in the gym is going to be awesome, along with my name on the record plaque. I want to be the next track athlete to bring a state championship back to Roxana.
“Roxana just has really good pride and support. There are people I’ve seen in the community who I don’t really know and they are congratulating me and everything, so it’s a great, great atmosphere to be in. I love Roxana.”
And it’s pretty safe to say Roxana is falling in love with him, too. Through old-fashioned hard work, Hawkins took his best throw as a freshman of 136 feet, 6 inches and transformed it to a personal-best and school-record 170-5 at the Roxana Relays as a sophomore. His fourth-place throw at state went 164-2.
“It was a great feeling. I still wish I would have gotten top three, but I was only a sophomore,” Hawkins said of his state medal. “There’s no complaining there. Getting fourth just makes me think of all the hard work I’ve put in and a lot of the credit goes to the people that have helped me. Todd Laux at Pride, coach (Scott) Stahlhut, coach (Juli) Akal, coach (Scott) Edwards, coach (Jon) Lawrence and even coach (Pat) Keith with the school lifting. Everything helped.”
Maybe the hardest decision in his dedicated training to become an elite thrower was the one to skip the basketball season. Hawkins played as a freshman at a pretty high level, but he knew there would be sacrifices in his quest to be a state placer in the discus.
“That was a really, really tough decision. It took me over nine months to actually finalize it,” Hawkins said of sitting out the basketball season. “I talked to all my coaches and listened to every one of their opinions and advice and took it into consideration, but I just thought at the end of the day, ‘I want to be a track state champion.’ That’s just what I had to do I felt.”
This season went a long way in showing him that it’s possible to make his dream a reality in the next two years.
“Going up 34 feet in one year, I think I can go up quite a bit this next year, too,” Hawkins said. “I just have to stay focused, stay dedicated and I should be on a good path.”
Getting to watch talented throwers like 3A discus champion A.J. Epenesa of Edwardsville and 2A disc and shot put champ Sam Sikon of Carbondale helped Hawkins. He picked up on their mental approach to help him in the future.
“Every thrower has their own technique, but just taking away their passion for the sport is my biggest thing,” he said. “Sikon, even in the finals when he was down, he was laughing and he was at peace, so it’s mainly just not being so stressed out, just relax, that’s what I got from that.
“Technique is always a big thing. Every little part in a throw is going to increase by a foot or so. Also, be aware of your whereabouts in the sport. If you’ve got a tailwind throw a little higher, if you’ve got a headwind throw a little lower. That’s what I did on my 164 throw. I felt the headwind so I angled it down a little bit and it led to a fourth-place finish, so I was pretty happy with that.”
It sounds like the Shells’ thrower is on the right track and the love affair between he and Roxana should get even stronger over the next two years.