When queried about the main goals for his senior season, Joplin standout distance runner Hobbs Campbell didn’t need much time to ponder the question.
Campbell has had one main objective in mind since his junior year concluded last May.
“I want to win a state title, that’s my main goal this year,” Campbell said before Thursday’s Carthage Invitational. “I’d like to run under 4:05 in the mile, too. But winning a state title in the 1600 is what I’m really focused on this year.”
As the spring track and field season gets underway, Campbell already owns an impressive list of accomplishments when it comes to his chosen craft.
But one lofty goal remains.
“The ultimate goal for Hobbs is to win a state title,” said Joplin distance coach Dustin Dixon. “There’s not a lot I can say about Hobbs that hasn’t already been said. He has high hopes for his senior season, and I know he’s going to have a great year. Hobbs is an incredibly gifted athlete who has had a lot of really great performances. He runs his best on the biggest stages. A state title has eluded him so far, and he’s got his work cut out for him because the defending state champ in the mile is back. But for Hobbs, a state title is the goal.”
Campbell established himself as one of the state’s elite distance runners last spring.
He was the Central Ozark Conference champion in the 800 and was a close second in both the 1600 and the 3200.
At the district meet, Campbell won two events, the 800 and the 1600. He was also fourth in the 3200.
Campbell advanced to state in two individual events at the sectional meet by winning the 1600 and finishing second in the 800. He also advanced to state with the 4×800 relay and just missed qualifying in the 3200 after finishing fifth.
At the Class 5 state championships in Jefferson City, Campbell concluded his junior season on a high note by earning three trips to the awards podium.
Campbell was the state runner-up in the 1600 with a school record time of 4:12.19, crossing the finish line just behind Rock Bridge’s Adam Hauser (4:11.75).
Coming so close to winning a state championship, and settling for the silver medal, has provided Campbell with extra motivation.
“Going into that race, I was seeded ninth,” Campbell recalled. “I did not expect to get second. I was in the lead going into the last stretch before I got passed. Getting out-kicked at the end definitely has sparked some extra motivation.”
“Hobbs was winning the race at 1585 meters last year, but it’s a 1600-meter race,” Dixon added.
Campbell was also a state medalist in the 800 by placing fifth with a time of 1:56. Three of the four athletes who finished ahead of Campbell in that event have graduated.
Campbell ran a leg of Joplin’s 4×800 relay that finished fifth.
Overall, securing three state medals capped an outstanding 2022 track season for Campbell.
“I was really happy with it,” Campbell said of his junior season. “I beat all of my goals for my junior season, and it was definitely a breakout season. After the season, I had a lot of really good schools reach out to me. I realized this is something that I’m good at and I realized this is something I want to do at the next level. I was really happy with how last season went.”
Campbell is coming off a standout senior season in cross country.
At last fall’s Class 5 state meet in Columbia, Campbell finished fifth with a time of 15:42. Campbell was also the COC champion this past fall.
Campbell said he’s planning on competing in four events on the track this spring—the 800, the 1600, the 3200 and the 4×800 relay.
Also of note, Campbell is once again balancing two sports this spring. In addition to track and field, Campbell is one of Joplin’s top golfers.
Ahead of Thursday’s season-opening Carthage Invitational, Campbell played in golf tournaments on three straight nights.
“Getting through the first couple of weeks of the season is always the difficult part of that,” Dixon said of Campbell juggling two sports. “He had three golf matches this week, so he’s been training for track by himself. He’s been logging miles at 9:30 at night, and not finishing until 10:15 or so. I’m sure that can affect his rest. But he’s a tough kid. And we know he’s a track-first kid.”
When his prep career ends, Campbell will run at the next level. He’s signed with the University of Kansas, where he’ll run cross country and track for the Jayhawks.
“KU is a school that I have always known was great,” Campbell said on his signing day. “Their track program has an amazing history, including three different athletes who held the mile world record at some point (Jim Ryun, Wes Santee and Glenn Cunningham). They also have amazing coaches who have coached (and still coach) many Olympic athletes. It is so cool to be part of such a historically great program with unbelievable athletic facilities.”
Before Campbell heads to Lawrence, Kansas, he has unfinished business in a Joplin uniform.
Dixon expects Campbell to have a stellar senior season. In fact, Dixon noted Campbell has the potential to capture the gold medal in his signature event when the state track meet arrives in late May.
“Of the five distance records at Joplin High School, the only one Hobbs does not hold is the open 800,” Dixon said. “So that’s another goal on his list. But winning a state title in the 1600 has to be at the top of his list. And he’s going to have his opportunities to reach those goals.”
Campbell won two events at the season-opening Carthage Invitational, the 800 in 1:58 and the 1600 in 4:29. He also ran on the 4×800 relay that took second.
And ahead of the first prep meet of the ’23 season, Campbell was asked what he’ll need to do in April and May to accomplish all of his ambitious goals.
Once again, Campbell didn’t hesitate before responding to the query.
It’s safe to say the answer has been on his mind for nearly a year now.
“I just have to keep working hard, have good workouts and I have to stay healthy,” Campbell said. “And I’m just really excited for this season.”