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From Rookie to State Contender: Anna’s Hampton Impresses

When track season began in earnest in February, Anna sophomore Denisha Hampton knew that she wanted to have a successful year and build on the accomplishments and experience she had as a freshman. Hampton was an important leg in the 4x100 relay and also competed in the 110M hurdles.

After spring break, with just one regular meet to go in the season, coach Hoot Jones threw the young athlete a curveball when he asked her to attempt the 300 hurdles.

“I just told her that with her speed and the fact that the hurdles are lower that I thought she could do very well in the event,” Jones said before the state meet. “Her success might have surprised her more than it did me. She’s a very talented athlete.”

Surprised may be an understatement.

When Hampton competed in Whitewright she took second place overall and gained the confidence she needed to go into the district competition and take first place in the event.

“I was shocked. I didn’t believe I could do it,” Hampton said. “I did way better than I thought I could.”

Hampton is active in several sports — playing volleyball and basketball on the playoff varsity teams this season in addition to her track duties. She started running the 110 hurdle when she was in seventh grade because she thought her quickness was an advantage in the short distance and she has only recently started competing at the longer distances.

After winning at the district meet, Hampton won area and was able to compete at the regional competition. She took third there – and only the top two are guaranteed a spot at state.

But she was the best third place competitor in the four regions in the state which earned her a “wild-card” spot and a chance to run in Austin. In only her fifth competitive meet, Hampton went jump-to-jump with the best hurdlers in the state and was the lone sophomore.

She took sixth overall.

“This success really makes me want more,” Hampton said. “This summer, I want to practice more, focus more and eat right.”

Hampton is also planning on limiting her sports involvement to just volleyball and track in her junior year — a move that will allow her to focus on track starting in November rather than February.

“This has taught me how to be mentally strong,” she said. “My coaches are teaching me to try hard but not be too hard on myself, and with all of them pushing me to be my best I really believe this can take me somewhere.”

Hampton says that her goal is to be “five-times” better next year. That may be a lofty goal but no one has any doubt that she will again be a contender.