Hannah Hammar saves the best for last.
A distance runner turned middle distance runner, Hammar has the mentality of a sprinter in the last 100 or 200 meters of any race.
“I feel like I always need to finish out a race as strong as I started,” Hammar said. “If I can just stay with their pace, I know that I have that kick and I can use it as an advantage for me.”
That advantage showed up big at last week’s Highland sectional.
Hammar broke a 34-year-old Morton record in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:20.65. She also did well enough to qualify for the Portage Regional in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter relays. She anchors both relay teams.
“She’s got a tremendous work ethic,” Herring said. “That competitive spirit she has, she’s just one of those kids that refuses to lose. She puts forth whatever is needed to get the job done.”
The 1,600 relay team won the Highland sectional as Hammar held off West Side’s Antonise Christian on the final leg.
“I still had some juice at the end,” Hammar said.
Hammar also holds the Governors' record in the 3,200.
Her 800 time sits among the area’s best middle distance runners, which gives her and her coach some hope heading into today's regional.
“The only thing that concerns me a little is that she puts herself in a position to get out, so that when it comes time for her to turn into a sprinter instead of an 800 runner, she’s in a good spot,” Herring said. “That way she can utilize that speed and she doesn’t get boxed in.”
Hammar was once a four-sport athlete, but gave up softball because there just wasn’t enough time in the day for to maintain straight As while playing two sports in the spring. She’s still Morton’s starting point guard and a three-time regional qualifier in cross country.
Hammar hyper-extended her knee training for last season’s regional and didn’t finish her season the way she would’ve liked. She wore a brace through basketball season and spent time away from running and softball over the summer, at her doctor’s suggestion, to allow it to fully heal.
Now, Hammar says she’s 100 percent and ready to accomplish her goals.
“In the 800, I want to get out and stay with the pack,” she said. “It’s always been a goal of mine to make it to state because I want to see that competition. I know that they could push me and I could really show out what I’m made of.”