Maize's Hoch puts focus on running
Soccer has always been a love for Maize senior Garrett Hoch.
But Hoch made a decision earlier this year. He chose to focus solely on running, instead of trying to divide his attention between track and club soccer.
"I thought since my high school soccer season was done, I felt like I could give track a better shot," Hoch said. "I was definitely disappointed about how last year ended. I didn't perform like I should have."
When Maize opens its season with its home meet on Apr. 5, Hoch will be on a redemptive path after not qualifying for the Class 6A meet in either the 400- or 800-meter races. He was part of the 1600 relay team Maize sent to state.
This time, he will be able to give it his all.
"I can put him through any workout I want now and I'm not worried about overdoing it," Maize coach Jerrod Handy said. "We were so worried about causing overuse injuries last year, we kind of backed off a little bit. This year... I'm really excited for the possibilities."
Last year, Hoch was a complimentary piece to the star power of Miles Ukaoma, who signed with Nebraska. Both ran the 400 and were part of the 1600 relay team.
It was an experience that Hoch tried to take every positive away from.
"Not everybody gets to run with the type of athlete that Miles was," Handy said. "Those two really worked well together in practice and pushed each other hard."
Added Hoch: "We pushed each other to a new level every day in practice."
But Hoch and Ukaoma were different runners. Hoch was more of a distance runner who dropped down to form a formidable duo with Ukaoma in the 400.
Now that soccer isn't occupying his free time, Hoch feels like he can exert himself more without fear of injury.
"When I did soccer, it was always go, go, go," Hoch said. "Now I feel like I can get my times down a lot easier than I did last year."
Hoch should be one of the top area runners in the 400 and 800, but he doesn't feel like he has to be the next Ukaoma for Maize.
"Yeah, I want to be like that, but those are big shoes to fill," Hoch said. "I just want to push myself and do the best I can. I want to get a state title before I leave high school."