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Lady Eagles’ Hopper freshman conference champion in only her second 400

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Taylor Hopper didn’t hop around in celebration upon winning the 400 at the COC Track Meet on Friday because the Nixa freshman didn’t realize she had become a conference champion.

“I really forgot this was COC, to be honest,” she said.

Hopper is a COC champion only one year into her high school career, after not being a COC champ in junior high. The closes she came was second in the 100 her eighth-grade year.

Friday’s 400 was only Hopper’s second 400. She first competed in the event at the Ozark Relays last month.

“I had no idea what went into the decision part of it,” Hopper said of being inserted in the 400. “I think the idea of putting me in the open 400 was because of our 4 x 400 relay team. My split there is a 59.6, so (the coaches) wanted to see what I could do in the open.

“I think I’m going to stick with me because I’m good at it,” she added. “I think it might start a new chapter for me.”

Hopper was clocked in 1:00.73. She overtook Ozark’s Blaire Pace (1:00.88) at the finish.

“She got me at the start of the 100 meter mark,” Hopper said. “I can kick it good at the end. I had confidence in me.

“It takes a lot different kind of effort to run the 400,” she added. “You have to pace yourself and know when it’s time to kick.”

Hopper was third in the 200 (27.27).

Hopper’s 400 first was one of four gold-medal finishes for Nixa. The Lady Eagles had three individual firsts and won the team title and the Eagles had one first.

Jena Medearis cleared 5-2 to win the high jump.

Ashlyn Allison won the discus with a throw of 103-9.

Tony Perez was first in the discus with a throw of 165-5.

Koby Graham and Casen Hammitt were 2-3 in the javelin.

Austin McCracken finished second in the 100 (11.15) and 200 (22.88).

The Lady Eagles’ 4 x 800 relay of Brookelyn Bidinger, Cassidy Williams, Emily Harris and Alicen Ashley took second (10:25).

Ashley was second in the 1,600 (5:10).

Camila Figueroa was second in the 300 hurdles (48.76).

Faith Chepkondol was second in the 200 (26.75) and third in the long jump (16-7) and 100 (12.83).

Hopper, Bidinger, Figueroa and Ali Kamies were third in the 4 x 400 relay (4:09).

Gideon Carter was third in the 300 hurdles (41.88).

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