TUPPERS PLAINS, Ohio — Wednesday turned out to be quite a memorable day for EHS senior Alia Hayes.
In the Eastern High School lobby, just hours before winning a pair of events and helping the Lady Eagles to their eighth straight Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division championship, Hayes signed her letter of her letter of intent to join St. Louis University track and field team.
“I remember telling my parents when I was little, that I had two main goals,” Hayes said. “One was to compete at the Division I level in a sport and the other was to move to a city and experience new culture. In the next few months, being able to experience all of those dreams is amazing.”
St. Louis University a private NCAA Division I school that competes in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Hayes will be joining a Billikens team that finished 10th in the A-10 this season.
“The campus is beautiful, it’s right in the heart of the city,” Hayes said. “It’s everything that I dreamed about in a school. I went on an official visit and I absolutely fell in love with the team and the coaching staff. Their athletic complexes and especially their academic buildings were just amazing.”
Alia will add to the SLU throwing program, as she currently holds personal records of 37 feet, 6 inches in the shot put and 127-8 in the discus.
“Once she gets into a throwing program, the sky is the limit,” said 14th year EHS head coach Josh Fogle said. “I still hope she has some left in her this year to get to the podium in the state meet. Once she gets somewhere with someone to work with her, get her stronger technique-wise, again the sky is the limit.”
Hayes is in her third year as a member of the Eastern track and field team, and has reached the state meet in each of her first two seasons.
At the state meet in her junior season, Alia finished 10th in the state in the shot put (36-11.25) and 12th in the discus throw (123-00). Hayes also made it to the state meet in the discus in her sophomore season, but did not record a qualifying throw.
Hayes has won back-to-back league championships in both events, and she holds the league record in the discus throw, at 127-8. As a junior, Alia was district champion in the discus and regional runner-up in the shot put.
After a knee injury suffered in basketball season held Alia out of spring sports her freshman year, she more than made up for it as a sophomore, excelling at both softball and track.
“She started off playing softball, then she kind of realized her potential and started just throwing,” Fogle said. “She has the school record in discus, she doesn’t have the school record in shot put, but she’s thrown farther than anyone else since I’ve been here.”
In her one season of softball, Hayes helped the Lady Eagles to a league championship and 20-3 record. Alia was an all-league first team selection and an all-district honorable mention.
“It was an incredibly hard decision,” Hayes said of choosing between spring sports. “I knew that I wanted to hopefully compete in college and it was a moment when I had to look and see what my best option was. At that point, I loved track and I was successful at it. I knew that I had a better chance, so I decided that I wanted to put all of my eggs in that basket. I’m glad that I did, because I fell even more in love with the sport and it just worked out.”
Alia was also a member of the 2014 state champion basketball team. Hayes is ranked seventh in the EHS class of 2017, holding a 3.96 weighted and 3.75 unweighted grade-point-average.
At St. Louis, Hayes will major in biology.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.