Fairfield High School senior Hallie Haines became the first female athlete from her school to earn a spot recently in the OHSAA State Track and Field Championships in the 400-meter dash.
Although she clocked 60.9 in the event preliminaries on June 2, finishing seventh in her heat, and did not advance to the finals, she is committed to run for Wittenburg University next year.
“The whole thing just felt like it wasn’t really happening to me,” said Haines. “I think afterwards is when it finally hit me because I did not expect to make it that far at all.”
Haines recently turned 18 and just graduated from Fairfield. Her junior year was her first year running the 400, and the year before that was her first year competing in track and field.
“She was the first female athlete [from Fairfield High School] to actually run in the state track meet, and we’re very proud of her,” said Fairfield Athletic Director Jimmy Barnett. “She puts in a lot of work and a lot of time, and she’s just a great kid overall, so we were really happy to see her make it there and get that experience.”
Barnett said a sendoff was organized for Haines the morning of the state track meet.
“I worked with the mayor, and he did a proclamation for Hallie there in the center of town at the light,” Barnett said. “All of Hallie’s friends and family and just the community were all outside cheering her on, and the fire and police departments escorted her to the county line, so it was pretty cool for Hallie, and she’s always going to remember her last day as a track athlete at Fairfield High School.”
Haines said she thinks she could have performed better in the state track meet.
“There was a false start, and I’ve never ran where there was one, so that was a lot,” she said. “I didn’t run a bad time, and I only ran a second below my PR, but there you can’t really have a bad race, but I’m still proud of how good I did and making it there.”
Haines has two brothers and three cousins who participated in track in college, and her brothers persuaded her to join the track team at Fairfield High School. “I tried it, and I was in the high jump, but I wasn’t in an major running events — I was just in relays — and then my junior year I decided to try the 400, and that’s the race I made it to this year for state, and that became my best race, and that was the race I ended up loving,” she said.
Haines said she began to think she might qualify for the state track meet about the time of the district meet a few weeks ago. “I appeared at district, and then I was ranked second in the region, I think, and then later at regionals I was ranked fifth and the top four make it, so I was one person away, and at that point I thought maybe I could do it,” she said.
Haines kept a consistent training schedule during the season and reached out to as many people as she could for advice.
“During the season I would run during the week and I would have weekends off because I was working,” she said. “Some days I would have harder days but before meets it would be an easier day so you weren’t going as hard as you could before a meet so you could get a little bit of rest but still stay loose and everything.”
In addition the 400-meter dash, Haines has also competed in the high jump, the 200-meter dash, and the 4 x 400-meter relay. At the league level, Haines has won the high jump for the past three years, and her team has won the 4 x 400-meter relay for the past three years. The most recent season was her first year winning the 400-meter dash in her league. At the regional meet, she tied for seventh in the high jump and placed third in the 400-meter dash.
“A lot of the goals that I achieved I didn’t think were possible until the end of the season,” said Haines. “I think it still hasn’t hit me how far I made it.”
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.