CORUNNA — When Hannah Hollister began her high school track career as a hurdler, she was uncertain of her prospects.
“I wanted to see my potential,” she said. “I was good in middle school, but you don’t know how good you are when you get to the big stage.”
Three years later, after a junior season that culminated with three state championship performances, the verdict is in: She’s very good.
Her secret isn’t all that elusive: Talent, mixed with hard work. Lots of it.
It resulted in her earning Athlete of the Year honors for the second year in a row.
“At our banquet, I mentioned how one of my favorite things is to blend in with the crowd and listen to what others say when she runs,” Corunna girls track coach Alan Montgomery said. “It’s funny sometimes, but everyone has the same amount of amazement.”
She won state championships in the 300-meter hurdles, 200 dash and on the 400 relay team, and took third in the 100 hurdles while also playing outfield on the Corunna softball team, where she hit nearly .700 and stole 40 bases.
On the weekends, when not competing, she was working on her skills.
“I would meet up with one of my coaches and we would work on hurdle drills every Sunday,” she said. “It definitely brought my times down a bit.”
Oh, and that third place finish? That was an outlier in her season.
Due to weather delays at the site of the Division 2 state meet, the scheduled one-hour gap between the 200 dash final and the 100-meter hurdles was cut to 15 minutes.
“It did not sit well at all,” Montgomery said, chuckling. “It was the first time she had been beaten in an individual hurdle race all year.”
“It stressed me out a little bit, because there wasn’t going to be as much of a break,” Hollister said. “But I’m happy with third place and I get one more year to try and get it.”
Hollister is fast, to be sure, but she is the kind of competitor that gets a boost when others take the lead.
“When I see someone in front of me, that’s my motivation,” she said. “I need to go get that person and beat them. That definitely has been a factor in winning races.”
In the 400 relay, Corunna was fourth when Hollister got the baton for the anchor leg.
“She just ran the girl from Frankenmuth down,” Montgomery said. “She took over the race and finished it. It was amazing.”
Stunning might have been more like it: Hollister finished .01 second ahead of Frankenmuth’s Hayleigh Atkin to give the Cavaliers the win and, eventually, the state title.
All this came after Hollister suffered a foot injury during the volleyball regionals that delayed her basketball debut.
It didn’t, however, take her off the volleyball court right away. She played in the Division 2 quarterfinal and semifinal before taking time off to heal.
“We weren’t sure of how big a break it was or how long I’d be out,” she said. “But it ended up working out pretty well where I got back in toward the end of basketball season and worked my way back into things pretty well.”
Work might be the operative word.
She poured herself into drills in a conditioning class at Corunna High School, working on weights three days a week and speed the other two.
“She worked extra hard in the weight room,” Montgomery said. “It doesn’t happen accidentally. She puts in the work to be at the level she’s at.”
After what most would consider a career highlight as a sophomore, when she earned three all-state berths, Hollister set goals of winning the 300 hurdle title and a state title, and got them.
She’s played four sports her first three years at Corunna, and plans to do the same her senior year as well.
“It keeps me in shape all the time,” Hollister said. “And I get to learn different lessons in the games, because the sports are different. I get to work with different coaches who push me in different ways, and I get to face different adversities.”
So far, through hard work, talent, and a sunny disposition, Hollister has made the most of her opportunities.
Her coaches are certainly appreciative.
“I’m looking forward to having her one more year,” Montgomery said. “She’s pretty amazing, a special athlete. You don’t get too many of these athletes to come around. We’re blessed to have her.”
Here is the All-Area Girls Track Team:
Athlete of the Year
After earning three all-state finishes last year, Hannah won Division 2 state titles in the 300 hurdles, 200 dash and on Corunna’s 400-meter relay in addition to a third-place finish in the 100 hurdles. Her efforts were key in Corunna’s winning the state championship. Hollister’s only loss of the spring came in the 100 hurdles final. She also had the best area time in the 400 run (1 minute, 0.62 second) and was among top five in the area in the long jump (16 feet, 10 inches) and as part of Corunna’s 1,600 relay (4:36.29).
Sarah Marvin, Byron
The sophomore won Division 3 state titles in both the shot put (44 feet, 111/2 inches) and discus (133-11) after leading the area in both disciplines throughout the season. She owns Byron school records in both events.
Emma Kribs, Laingsburg
The Wolfpack freshman had a strong debut, earning all-state honors with an eighth-place finish in the 100 at the Division 3 state meet in 13.22 seconds and took 18th in the 400 (a personal-best 1:01.89). She had a personal-best time of 13.01 in the 100 and was third in the area in the 200 (26.89).
Katie Grooms, Perry
The junior had a personal-best 1:03.3 in the 400 at the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference meet in May. She also played key roles in relay and the long jump for the Ramblers.
Lilly Evans, Corunna
The sophomore finished sixth in the state in the 3,200-meter run (11:00.16). She also had the area’s best time in the 1,600 (5:05.09) and the second-best time in the 800 (2.25.83), all personal bests.
Lexi Mort, Corunna
The senior was by far better than everyone except Hollister this season in both hurdles, finishing seventh in the state in the 100 hurdles (16.08) and was on the state-champion 400 relay. She also had the second-best leap in the long jump, clearing 17-6.
Corunna (Lilly Bower, Elizabeth Norris, Lexi Mort, Hannah Hollister)
The Cavaliers’ 400-meter relay used the blazing speed of Hollister to its advantage despite the late addition of Lilly Bower to the lineup when Maddie Birchmeier was unavailable for the state meet. The Cavaliers beat Frankenmuth by the slimmest of margins, 49.56 to 49.57 seconds, with Hollister surging from fourth to nip Frankenmuth at the finish line.
Perry (Kallei Brown, Katie Grooms, Emma Cochrane, Hailey Lewis)
The Ramblers’ 1,600 relay had the area’s season-best time of 4:17.03, more than three seconds faster than second place. And there’s room for improvement, barring injury: All four runners will be back next year.
Lexi Martenis, Owosso
The senior leaped 17 feet, 71/2 inches at regionals, nearly a foot and a half farther than her previous best. She earned all-state honors by clearing 17 feet, 3/4 inch at the state meet. She also was a key member of the Trojans’ sprint teams.
Mariah Dunkin, Corunna
The senior was second in the area in both the discus and the shot put overall during the season. She took second in the discus (126-10) and fourth in the shot put (38-1) at the Division 2 state meet.
Haley Hooley, Byron
The junior was second in the area in the 100 (12.97) and fourth in the 200 (27.18).
Emme Koutz, Ovid-Elsie
The junior was 12th in the 800 at the Division 3 state meet in 2;26.57. Her personal best was at the Argus-Press Meet of Champions (2:24.68).
The senior had the second-best time to teammate Lilly Evans in both the 1,600 (5:14.59) and 3,200 (11:20.10).
Elizabeth Gramza, Perry
The Ramblers senior had the best non-Corunna time in both the 100 and 300 hurdles (15.9 and 48.88, respectively). She also led all area pole vaulters by clearing 10-3.
Hailey Lewis, Perry
The sophomore had a personal-best leap of 16-81/2 in the long jump, while posting the second-best time in the 200 (26.86) and fourth best in the 100 (13.07).
New Lothrop (Alana
Wenzlick, Sydney Pope, Caitlyn Bruff)
The Hornets’ 400 relay ended the second with a personal-best 51.3 at the state meet, good for sixth place. Bruff, who anchored the relay, had an individual best of 13.04 in the 100, good for fourth place in the area.
Chesaning (Julia Skayrd, Karlie Lewis, Preslee
Slankard, Lauren Schirle)
The Indians’ 1,600 relay finished 14th at the state meet, and all four runners are slated to return next season.
Malinda Barberio, Laingsburg; Whitney Barrett, Durand; Shaily Baynes, Laingsburg; Claire Greenfelder, Chesaning; Josie Howard, Morrice; Clara Krupp, New Lothrop; Becky Marvin, Byron.