The 800-meter run is not for the faint of heart.
Basically, it’s an all-out sprint for two laps around the track, and hopefully you have saved enough energy for a kick at the end.
Griswold High School senior Hannah Christman has only run the event the past two years, but she has become one of the best among 1A runners in the state.
“My freshman and sophomore years, I did the 400 and the 300 hurdles,” Christman said. “When it came to districts, I would be third or fourth. My distance coach (Jeff Newtson) said I should try the 800.”
Christman was hesitant at first, but as she started working with the distance crew, the 800 quickly grew on her.
“My first meet, I didn’t even know where to cut in,” she said. “After my first race my junior year, I was ranked first in the district. It’s really cool to find something that is your event.”
Christman won her second consecutive 1A Special District 3 title last Saturday in Moro, and is headed to state this weekend to defend her state title.
“That was the goal, to go back (to state) and win it again,” Christman said.
With University of Oregon’s Hayward Field under renovation, the 1A meet has been move to Western Oregon University.
“Just being there takes a couple of seconds off your time,” Christman said of Hayward Field. “It is awesome. Last year, the seniors were reminiscing, and the rest of us were like, ‘dang.’”
The more Christman runs the 800, the more she breaks it down to work for her.
“I always think the first lap you are full of adrenaline and maybe going too fast for your pace,” she said. “Between 400 and 600 meters, is where you make all of your decisions. That is your make or break point. Last year at state, that’s where I started to speed up, then you realize you have sprint at the end.”
Christmas won her first state title in a time of 2:26.51, nearly 4 seconds in front of Sahalie Crain of Chiloquin.
Last week, she won district in a time of 2:27.80, nearly 6 seconds ahead of Hailey Heideman of Ione.
Her personal best time of 2:25.25 was set May 3 at the Dick Horyna Invite in Stanfield.
Christman has the second-best time in Oregon among 1A runners this spring, behind Ella Coughlan of Joseph, who clocked a 2:22.13 on May 3 at the Baker Invite.
“I have put in a lot of practice and effort to get where I am,” Christman said. “I can keep working and bring my time down.”
Griswold coach Rory Simpson has no doubt that Christman will succeed in what she sets out to do.
“It’s kind of the way Hannah is,” he said. “The harder it is, the more she’s drawn to it. She is competitive. It will be great to see her run (at state).”
Christman also received an at-large bid to run the 3,000 at state, and she is part of the 4x400 relay team that won the district title.
The Grizzlies were third at state in the 4x400 last year, but with Emma Fehrenbacker and Lucy Case graduating, Christman and Kaylee Cope have had to break in sophomores Karalin Reynolds and Ryann Stahancyk. Their best time this year is 4:35.74 — quite a bit off their state time of 4:24.27 last year.
“We have new runners and there is an adjustment,” Christman said. “And, Kaylee and I just got through running the 3,000 (at district), and we had to turn around and run another lap. That does not help your time.”
What the future holds
This weekend likely will be the final laps Christman will run competitively. She is headed to the University of Montana, where she will study pre-med.
Christman has a 4.0 GPA and will be co-valedictorian of her class when it graduates May 26.
“I’ve been approached a few times about running,” she said. “But if I am on a team, it might be a distraction and it would be hard to get in on research programs because I wouldn’t have the time. I want to graduate, go to med school and be a neurologist. I will miss competing. I have run cross-county and track and played basketball in high school. It’s a part of me.”