HOLLY LEAPS â€” Holly Hankenson goes high in the long jump during competition in the USA Junior Track Meet in Plainfield, Ill. Hankenson won that event and six of seven to take the heptathlon title. She will compete in the USA Junior Track Nationals. (Photo provided)
Holly Hankenson likes variety, and that makes the standout Bellmont athlete the perfect fit for the track helptathlon.
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She not only likes the varied events, but she proved she's pretty good at all of them in the recent Region 7 USA Track Meet as she stormed through the 16-annd-under division, compiling 4,084 points. She stunningly won six of the seven events, and was second only in the 200 meter dash. The second place total score was 701 points short of her tally.
The supreme effort qualified the Bellmont sophomore to be for the USA Track 16-15 Nationals set for the last week of July in Wichita, Kansas.
"I wanted to be in the pentathlon a couple of years ago. I don't want to specialize in any of the events, and I enjoy the multi-events of the heptathlon. It's just right for me," said Hankenson, who just missed out on a state berth in the 300 hurdles this past spring as a freshman at BHS.
"It's a lot of hard work but really rewarding. I had fun overall," said Hankenson of her recent experience in the USA meet, held in Plainfield, Illinois.
It was a four-day meet, with the heptathlon running on two days. Hankenson, representing the Fort Wayne Express Track Club, also participated in a couple of relay events for her team.
"I got plenty of rest," said Hankenson on fitness for the grueling event. Bellmont girls track coach Carl Risch feels that Hankenson is a very special performer.
"It takes a special athlete to compete in that heptathlon, to be able to throw the shot put like a shot putter, sprint, run distance, and do other jumping and field events. It's hard to find a person who can do all of those things. It takes a lot of athletcism and ability in different areas. That limits the field," stated the veteran coach.
"You have to consider Holly an elite athlete, because she's so good in a lot of different areas. She's strong in events like the hurdles and long jump, but then she tosses the shot put 31 feet, eight inches, and that's better than any of our shot putters at Bellmont, and would win a lot of meets," added Risch.
There were seven girls in the heptathlon competition at Plainfield.
Holly won the 100 hurdles in 16.25 and took the high jump at 4'9". She went a solid 16' 2" to win the long jump. Her winning javelin throw was 78 feet, 9 inches.
After all of that, Holly ran the 800 meters in 2:30.19.
The heptathlon is seven events, and the scoring is based on performance, not placement.
In the 400 relay, Holly's team ran a 48.6. She ran the second leg. In the 1600, she led off and her squad went 3:56.
"I would get bored doing on thing. It's extra work, but not doing same things all the time is fun for me. I like running the hurdles, but I wouldn't want to do just hurdles," explained the daughter of Steve and Bridget Hankenson.
Hankenson had little time to fret about not making the state girls track meet as a freshman. The Bellmont 1600 team had a time that was faster than 11 teams at state.
"I don't have time to be disappointed. I had the heptathlon and volleyball nationals ... so many other things to worry about, meets to get ready for.
I was way to busy to lose sleep over it," noted Holly.
"Everyone on our team is still young. It's not like we don't have two or three more chances to make it."
Holly's volleyball team went to the Nationals in Orlando, Fla., and the squad finished 11th in the nation. She had to carefully plan out her volleyball and her heptathlon preparation. "It worked out," she said.
Open gym for volleyball is underway and soon Holly will participate in a three-day team camp for Bellmont. "That will interfere a little bit with training, but it won't be bad," she noted.
Hankenson doesn't worry about her weight, or fitness for one event. "I need to be lean, but I don't want to be small. I need to be an all-around good shape so I'm strong, fast and have good endurance. It would not be good to focus on one thing as far as training is concerned," she explained.
There were no surprises in the Plainfield competition. "Everything went according to plan. It all went like it should have," said the confident athlete.
"Holly got a lot of compliments from other coaches and parents of other athletes," said Risch.
"I think she's got a good chance to compete with the leaders at Nationals. The top 9 medal, and the top 8 earn All-American status. I think she's got a shot to be in that bunch," said Risch.
There will be competitors from 16 Regions competing for the honors in Kansas.