Today, we salute Hannah Knudsen of Hatboro-Horsham. Knudsen was a state qualifier this past fall in cross country and district qualifier in the 3200 meters on the track in District 1. She graduates with a 5K XC PR of 19:10 and 3200 meter PR of 11:26.03
Throughout the end of June and through July we we be honoring our graduating seniors. To submit your own questionnaire to be posted on the front page of PennTrackXC, check out this page and email your responses to Dan Beck (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What was your most memorable race/competition?
My most memorable race was the 2016 PIAA Cross Country State Championships. I had missed the cut off my junior year by four spots so when I qualified my senior year I was ecstatic. It was the first time my team had sent an athlete since 2007. I had no expectations for place or time, I was just happy to have qualified and have the experience of my high school career. It was the best weekend of my entire cross country experience spent with my coach, fellow captain and family.
Where did you face your biggest competition?
I faced my biggest competition at the District 1 Championships my senior year. It was the only chance I had to qualify for States and it had been my goal since the end of my junior season. I normally don't get nervous before a race but this was a different story. I had just gotten my spikes on and right before we walked down to the start line I looked at my coach and she knew that I wasn't myself. She told me that I was ready and all my training had lead up to this point; I could do it. When I was standing on the line, I wanted to step back and cry. I ended up having a great race and qualified for States, which was the icing on the cake to an already amazing senior year.
Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
I have a lot of accomplishments that I am proud of but if I had to pick one it would be breaking the school record in the 3200 meter. This past spring track season I had been waiting for a good race to qualify for Districts for the first time. I had my eyes set on the school record after it was broken the year before. I was excited to race with good competition at Henderson but when the impending storms changed our plans and we went to the Helman Memorial Invitational instead, I was afraid it wasn't going to happen. I was excited to race under the lights and the combination of energy I felt and confidence I had in my training and racing plan helped me cross the line to qualify for Districts and break the school record.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?
I wouldn't change a thing; every struggle and triumph have made me the runner and woman I am today.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
One of the most difficult obstacles I had to overcome was my encounter with anemia during my sophomore track season. I struggled through the end of the cross country season until the first two weeks of spring track that year before we realized something was wrong. I realized my resting pulse was 90 during the physical fitness unit in health class. A blood test showed I was severely anemic with a ferritin level of 1 and a hemoglobin level of 8.4. I began iron pills right away and by the end of the season I was PR'ing in the 3200. It wasn't easy in between the discovery and the PR though. I couldn't run further than an 800 meter race. I felt fine aerobically but my legs just would not move any faster. It was a real blow to my confidence but I came back even stronger and I think it's what made my love for this sport so great.
What will you miss the most?
I will miss the adventures with my teammates the most. The singing of The Climb by Miley Cyrus on the way home from meets whether it was a good or bad result. The annual preseason run along the Delaware River followed by lunch and a tubing trip. The annual pumpkin carving in the locker room with chili before Districts. And the pasta parties, sister bags and support.
Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
Enjoy it while you can. Enjoy the bad races, good races and every race in between. Some of my best races were when I let loose and felt excited to be out on the course/track instead of always so focused. Don't get me wrong, you need a sense of concentration. But you also need to have fun. Be crazy. Be happy. Be you.
How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals overall?
My coach, Anna Baker, has played such a big part in my transformation from freshman year to senior year. Not only has she helped me become a better runner but also a better teammate, leader and person. She always knew how to cheer me up with a pep talk and encourage me in a race (always losing her voice of course). I couldn't step on the line without her pre-race high five. She took me to the most amazing meets and gave me the best experiences ever. Now that my high school career is over, she may not be my coach anymore but she is a friend I can count on for anything. I am so grateful to have been one of her athletes. Thank you Baker!
What are your post-high school plans?
I will be attending Lehigh University to continue my cross country and track career while studying chemical engineering.
My coach, my teammates and most importantly my family. They have all supported me so much throughout this entire journey and I wouldn't be where I am today without them!