Hoffmann tries the 800-meter run

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Close race: Guilderland’s Jennifer Hoffmann, left, tries to keep pace with the top runners from Shaker and Bethlehem during Monday’s 800-meter run at Shaker. Hoffmann, who usually runs in the 400-meter, was competing in the 800-meter for the first time, and she came in fourth place.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Hands to the sky: Maddie Kuon makes a long jump for Guilderland on Monday during a meet at Shaker High School; her jump was 11 feet, 7 inches. The Dutch won the dual meet, beating both Shaker and Bethlehem.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Toe to toe: Monday’s 800-meter run at Shaker was highly contested, and, here, Guilderland’s Emily Burns, middle, goes to pass a runner from Bethlehem down the home stretch. Burns had a time of 2:20.2 for second place, and Jennifer Hoffmann came in fourth place for the Dutch.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Inhale, exhale: Abby Marco soars over a hurdle for Guilderland on her way to a first-place finish in the 400-meter hurdles on Monday at Shaker High School. Marco also won the 100-meter hurdles.

NORTH COLONIE — With no foreseeable progress in the 400-meter run, Jennifer Hoffmann and her Guilderland track-and-field coaches decided that Monday was the perfect moment to give the 800-meter run a try.

It turned out to be a wise choice.

Running the Shaker High School track in one pink shoe and one yellow shoe, Hoffmann kept pace with the top varsity runners from Shaker, Bethlehem, and Guilderland (Emily Burns). Her fourth-place time of 2:22 had Dutch Head Coach Dick Usher singing her praises.

“That’s unbelievable,” said Usher of Hoffmann’s effort in her first 800-meter run. “She’s a dedicated runner, and really challenges herself.”

Usher has been coaching for many, many years, and wouldn’t expect a first-time 800-meter runner to post a time any better than 2:38. However, Hoffmann has ran a 2:23 in the 4x800-meter relay.

Hoffmann told The Enterprise that she was “stalling out” in the 400-meter; her times weren’t getting any faster. “It was time to try something new,” she said.

“She’s got the endurance for the 800,” Usher added.

Emily Burns, who is more accustomed to the 800-meter for Guilderland, finished ahead of Hoffmann in second place (2:20), but was trailing her after the first lap. Burns said that there was no competition between her and Hoffmann.

“It was her first race,” Burns said. “There can’t be much of a competition yet…we just wanted to feel what it was like.”

Usher said that the 400-meter is for runners with natural speed, calling the one-lap race “demanding, and one of the hardest.” The 800-meter also requires speed, but runners have to use their energy for twice as long.

“You have to figure out how and when to split it up,” Usher said of the 800-meter. “Some girls try to go out strong to try and break the other runners’ hearts. Saratoga is known for having runners that start fast, and you try to stay with them, but then you have nothing left.”

Saratoga wasn’t competing at Shaker on Monday, so Hoffmann and Burns had a chance to win the 800-meter. They came really close.

“You have to know your race,” Hoffmann said.

“And you have to know your pace,” Burns added.

Guilderland beat Shaker, 97 to 84, and bested Bethlehem, 103 to 76.

Senior Abby Marco finished first in both the 100-meter hurdles (15.4 seconds) and the 400-meter hurdles (1:08) for the Dutch.

Senior Jenna Robinson was first in the 3000-meter (11:09) and set a personal record in the 1500-meter (4:55) for Guilderland.

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