Eureka’s Long gets ready to run in Foot Locker’s Midwest Regional cross country meet
By: Warren Mayes
Fresh off a state cross country championship, Eureka sophomore Hannah Long is getting ready for the next race.
Long will compete in the Footlocker Midwest Regional in Kenosha, Wis. The race is Nov. 24 at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside campus.
High school athletes from Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin will be competing.
“This will be the main the focus before we even start thinking track,” Eureka coach Kally Fischer said. “Getting her in that top 10 to finals has been the ultimate goal all season.”
Still, there is time to relish the state championship. The second time at state proved to the be charm for Long.
Long won the recent Class 4 state cross country championship in Jefferson City with a time of 18 minutes, 6.91 seconds. Her winning time was a whopping 34 seconds ahead of Hickman’s Nicole Mello, the second-place finisher.
Long, who placed second at state as a freshman, is the second state champion at Eureka. Meredith Snow also is a Wildcat state champion. Snow, a three-time state champion, still holds the course record.
Fischer said she was hopeful Long would cross the finish line first.
“(Our) expectations were very simple,” Fischer said. “We had this goal in mind to be a state champion ever since last season. So we kept the race plan simple and focused on a few keys points that would make her successful going in to the state meet and building upon Footlocker Regionals.”
The victory capped a campaign for Long to remember.
“She has had one amazing season,” Fischer said. “She’s really setting herself amongst the top runners in the country. She is about a minute faster than last season in workouts, which definitely shined throughout the season on various courses. She is much stronger physically and mentally. She has learned a lot about herself with racing and strategies in what will benefit her in each race.
“It was about keeping the plans simple — not worrying about others and how they will necessarily race. Knowing the confidence we have in workouts and transferring that into racing situations. She had fantastic races at Forest Park Festival, the Great American, and the state meet, which were the only ones we geared the season around.”
Finishing second as a freshman was a big step for Long. She also runs distances races for the Wildcats’ track and field team in the spring. Long learned much in her first year of high school cross country.
“Her freshman year went well — second place is still outstanding,” Fischer said. “It was a year of getting experience and understanding the sport of cross country better. We learned a lot of what works for her to be successful. It really is the sophomore year that is the true test of how good you will actually be.”
Long used an effective strategy at state. Basically it comes down to getting out smart, insert yourself in the second mile and run your heart out in the third mile.
“She ran a perfect race,” Fischer said. “She followed the race plan perfectly and showed the state just how good she was. She had the fastest time of the day running all by herself.”
Fischer was happy when Long crossed the line first. She remembers thinking it was a “job well done. Mission accomplished. Now, she finally a championship under her belt in an outstanding time.”
As good as Long is on the course, Fischer said she also is great away from it.
“I had the opportunity to travel with Hannah this fall,” Fischer said. “She is a very humble young lady, a fantastic kid and an even better student and teammate.”