Hensley Far From An Overnight Success
Pinecrest freshman Hannah Hensley tied a school record with a 5-foot-6 effort in the high jump at last weekend’s Durham Striders indoor track meet in Chapel Hill.
The highest jump in the state during the winter indoor-outdoor season that began in December helped the Patriot girls win the meet by one point over second-place Southeast Raleigh.
But the versatile athlete, who has also qualified for the 4A state indoor championships on Feb. 13 in the long jump, triple jump and 300-meter run, is far from an overnight success story. She began developing her abilities in track and field events as a 10-year-old member of the Sandhills Track Club summer program led by Union Pines coach Nat Carter.
“I feel if I ever go to the Olympics, he’s going to be the first one I take with me,” she said of Carter before a workout at Pinecrest on Tuesday. “He’s had such an impact on my life.”
Hensley and several other members of the club qualified for last summer’s USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships held at North Carolina A&T. She finished ninth in the intermediate girls division of the heptathlon, a seven-event competition that includes a javelin throw, the shot put and hurdles.
“She’s really a talent,” Carter said. “She’s really beginning to learn her events. A lot of times that doesn’t happen until when they’re juniors and seniors. I enjoy working with her.”
The former West Pine Middle School student-athlete was asked what got her interested in track and field at such an early age.
“I think God gave me lots of talent for it,” she said. “It’s just so amazing that you can get out there on the track and just express yourself by running. I love it.”
Pinecrest coach John Buchholz believes that Hensley could have won or placed in some high school events last year as an eighth grader.
“She’s got a real good work ethic and she’s not satisfied just to do a workout,” the Patriot coach said. “She wants it to be quality. She’s up there with the kids in the nation in the high jump right now and most of them are juniors and seniors. She’s hoping to hit 5-10 this year. That would definitely be an outstanding performance for a freshman.”
Not surprisingly, Hensley’s favorite event is the high jump.
“I really enjoy the high jump, and that’s what I feel I’m best at,” she said. “If I succeed in one area, I want it to be the high jump.”
In the Durham Striders meet that included athletes from 41 schools, Hensley finished third in the long jump and seventh in the triple jump. She was asked if she has been surprised by the early success.
“Actually I am,” she said. “I’ve gone above and beyond my expectations. I’m going to keep climbing until I hit my peak.”
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