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Maybe the happiest competitor at the OSAA track championships — Pleasant Hill's Dakota Hyland, the 3A girls 400 champion

“I wanted that race more than anyone there. I was so happy I got it.”

By Dan Brood

Sure, there were plenty of happy competitors at Hayward Field. 

And, yes, there were plenty of smiling faces to be seen during the Class 3A/2A/1A state track and field championships held at the historic Eugene site.

But perhaps nobody was happier than Dakota Hyland.

And it would be hard to find somebody smiling brighter than she was.

Hyland, a Pleasant Hill sophomore, maybe smiled her brightest after she crossed the finish line in first place in Friday's Class 3A girls 400-meter dash. 

“I’m really excited,” Hyland, still smiling, said after receiving her state championship medal. “I wanted that race more than anyone there. I was so happy I got it.”

And she got it with an impressive, personal-best performance. 

Hyland, getting off to a fast start, and seemingly getting strong as the race went on, triumphed in the 400 in a time of 1 minute, 0.69 second. That put her nearly a second ahead of Horizon Christian sophomore Mikenzy Rosen, who finished second at 1:01.46.

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Hyland, with her light reddish hair flying up in the air, got a big smile on her face as she crossed the finish line and saw her winning time.

“I started off the season at 63 (seconds), now I’m at a minute,” she said. “I never thought I’d be running that to begin with. But my coach has been really awesome, and so it’s just been really fun to improve in that race over the season. I’m really happy.”

But that happiness didn’t come without a lot of work, or without a strategy.

“I have a race plan, that my coach wrote out for me, so I know exactly what to do every 100 meters, what to do, where to be,” Hyland said. “I knew what to do with my arms, my legs, my breathing, so that’s really helpful.”

The win in the 400 was just part of a busy state meet for Hyland, who competed in four individual events.

On Thursday, she finished in 12th place in the high jump with a mark of 4 feet, 6 inches. On Friday, in addition to her victory in the 400, Hyland sprinted to fourth place in the 100 in 13.30, and she took fifth in the 200 in a time of 27.70.

But, of course, her highlight was winning the 400, and getting to do it at Hayward Field.

“It was amazing,” Hyland said. “It was a huge moment. I probably won’t realize the impact until at least a couple more weeks, when I look back and reflect on it.”

The Pleasant Hill girls finished in a tie for eighth place in the Class 3A team standings with 26 points. Hyland accounted for 19 of the Billies’ points. 

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