Senior Hannah Wittman has paved the way for Belmont women in athletics.
“She is an accomplished cross country and track and field runner. From setting records at Belmont to becoming a person that others can look up to, she has set a standard for what a Belmont athlete strives and stands for,” said Belmont track and field and cross country coach Ashley Cassavant.
While being an athlete at the collegiate level is challenging at times, Wittman has kept her head on her shoulders and worked towards her goals so that she could go to the next level, the Olympics.
“I would love to run professionally afterwards. I don’t know what that looks like right now, but going after more goals and hopefully hitting Olympic Trial standards for whatever event that may be. But to just keep progressing and moving on with my fitness,” said Wittman.
“Hannah is the fastest runner on the team in the events 1500 through the 10K. She is also the fastest runner in cross country,” said Cassavant.
Cassavant, Belmont’s women’s track and field and cross country coach, has coached Wittman since her freshman year and has helped her reach her full potential.
“She is a hard worker to say the least. She is not afraid of the grind and there are so many traits in her that I have not even had to coach. They are just true to her and to her parents. A testimony to the person that she is,” said Cassavant.
“She is so willing to do whatever. She is a fighter. I don’t even have to worry about that when she is on the line. I know that I am going to get everything out of her. She is also a leader. She has had to be a leader since she was a freshman,” said Cassavant.
“Being a leader is not something that I had to ask for her to do, it is just something that she has done really naturally. She’s not afraid to go against the mold and the grain of what’s cool or what people do in college, or whatever,” said Cassavant.
Wittman has brought being a runner to the next level. At Belmont, she has broken four school records. In track and field, she holds the mile, the 15K and the 5K. In cross country she currently holds the 6K record, and is also sitting on the 10K. Whittman has the fastest distance on the team in the events 1500 through the 10K, which is 5 track events.
“It takes years and years of doing all the little things right. And really trusting in the hard times that things are still going to come together. There are discouraging events when you don’t think you are going to accomplish your goals or become a school record holder or make it to nationals,” said Wittman.
Nationals were held in November and Hannah placed 84th.
It takes a lot to be a runner. It is mental and physical.
“I think you just have to keep reminding yourself that it is all part of a bigger picture. Those moments when you are really bored running loops on grass because you want to save you body from running on the concrete or you have rolled for an hour already and don’t want to take an ice bath, but you do anyways. Those are little things that make you a runner. I think it is mostly your mindset and finding joy in what you are doing and just waking up in the morning and being grateful for the opportunity that you have to run,” said Wittman.
Wittman has full days, and her daily routine is based off her running schedule with the team. Each morning she wakes up around 6:30, then prepares for her first run of the day. After that, she heads to the training room and takes an ice bath then heads to strength training where she does weights with the team. From there, she attends class then goes on her afternoon run. In the evening she ends by studying and working on school work.
“Hannah is going to be in a position to pursue events at the national level but we have big goals such as the 10K,” said Cassavant.
Wittman and Cassavant traveled to California and competed at the Mt. SAC relays where she placed fifth in the women’s elite 10K with a time of 33:59.6.
“I would love to run professionally afterwards. I don’t know what that looks like right now, but going after more goals and hopefully hitting Olympic Trial standards for whatever event that may be,” said Wittman.
In the Olympic Trial process, 38 individuals per gender are selected to compete at the NCAA Championships. From those teams not selected in the above process, the top four finishers at each regional are automatically selected, but must have finished within the top 25 of the region.
“Obviously, we have big goals and a lot of them are probably going to come true. But for us right now I think taking it day by day and savoring these final moments because graduation is looming and this journey is going to come to an end and it is going to be very bitter-sweet and really really sad at the same time,” said Cassavant.
Wittman has a future and a career with running. With all the hard work and dedication that she has put forth, Cassavant and Wittman believe that she can make it to the next level. Her love of running shows through her everyday attitude and personality during school, practice, and faith life.
“The first thought that goes through my head when I finish a race is how fun it was. And how exciting it was. And then I get kind of overwhelmed with emotions where I am just so grateful that God doesn’t have to provide for that to happen and He just does. For that to happen, all the hard work that goes into it. It is really kind of overwhelming to watch it all pay off,” said Wittman.
This article was written by Shelby Vandenbergh