Corey J. Corbin
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
Hannah Drake is a track and field coach’s dream.
The Wilmington junior can step into virtually any event and score points for her team.
“Hannah is very gifted on the track,” said veteran Lady Greyhounds coach J.R. McFarland. “She’s one of those athletes that we have the freedom to move around, because she can do so much.
“I was thinking the other day about how she could do any event that we wanted her to do. She could be a hurdler. In the field, she obviously long jumps and triple jumps. We’ve had her in the high jump. I don’t know how she’d do in the shot or the discus.”
At the Union Invitational on Friday, Drake recorded a leap of 17-4 3/4 in the long jump to eclipse the old invitational mark of 17-4 1/2, set by Wilmington’s Alexis King in 2011. Drake, Allison Baldwin, Elizabeth Ferrante and Rikki Brumbaugh posted a time of 4:19.71 in the 1600 relay to set another record. Moniteau had the previous record of 4:20.2 in 2006.
She was also on the winning 3200 relay team and rounded out her day with a first-place finish in the triple jump.
Earlier in the week, Drake posted wins in the long jump, the triple jump and the 1600 and 3200 relays in Wilmington’s 116-28 win over Reynolds.
Drake’s efforts earned her Lawrence County Athlete of the Week honors, an award sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy and selected by the New Castle News sports staff.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting it,” Drake said of setting the record in the long jump. “I was really blessed to be able to compete and compete well. The one that I broke individually used to be Alexis King’s. She’s a former Wilmington jumper, so it was pretty cool to see how I compared to past jumpers. I definitely looked up to Alexis and Mariah (Burns). They were jumpers here and they worked very hard. To compete at that level is really special.
“We didn’t know we broke (the 1600 relay record) until the next morning, so that made it really special. I don’t have the fastest split, but they make me look really good. It’s pretty amazing that we got the record, because we were all feeling tired. It had been a long day.”
PUTTING IN WORK
Having to compete in multiple events at invitationals and dual meets can be draining.
“It really works on you mentally,” Drake admitted. “Last year, that was something I really struggled with. I feel like I’ve improved with the mental aspect of it. That’s a huge part of running and jumping. It’s hard, but it’s something that you get used to.
“At some points, my legs feel shot. Even in the 4x4, you get those feelings where you don’t want to do it, but you push through it.”
If she had her druthers, Drake would prefer to focus solely on the triple jump.
“I really like the triple jump,” she said. “Not a lot of people know about it. It’s probably my favorite event and it’s probably my best event.
“You either get it or you don’t. I was able to pick it up pretty quickly when I was taught it in seventh grade. It’s a lot of technique. There’s a lot of pounding on your legs. It’s definitely something that you have to work at.”
Drake and her teammates have spent a lot of time working on handing off the baton in the 1600 and 3200 relays.
“Coach (Mary Beth) Acker has worked hard with us,” she said. “All the coaches do. They help us with the timing and the handoffs. It’s special, because I’ve been with this relay team since my freshman year and none of us have graduated. We’ve been together for a while now. You learn other people’s strategy and how they run. That helps with the timing.”
Drake has put her individual goals on the back burner for what’s best for the team.
“I know we have a good team and we have a well-rounded team,” she said. “I’m really excited to see what I can do for the team and how many points I can get for the team. We have a lot of goals this year and we have high expectations. To be a part of this, I feel really blessed.”
McFarland has been impressed with her attitude.
“She’s been willing to sacrifice her individual success for the success of the team,” he said. She’s a very unselfish athlete in that sense. She’ll do whatever we need her to do to help the team. We try to take into consideration her individual events, so she can go as far as she can.”
Although it hasn’t happened, yet, Drake could be moved from one event to another if the Lady Greyhounds suddenly need to secure points elsewhere.
“We haven’t had to do that,” McFarland said. “We’ve known our opponents and what we needed to do, but in past years, we’ve done that and we’ve been fortunate enough to have student-athletes like Hannah that accept that.”
Drake qualified for the PIAA Class AA championship meet at Shippensburg University last spring and is hoping to earn a return trip this year.
“Lord willing, I’m expecting to qualify for the triple jump,” said Drake, who earned a trip in the triple jump and 3200 relay as a sophomore. “My goal is to qualify for the long. Our relays are doing really well. It would be amazing if I could qualify in four events. We’ll see what the future holds.”
THE HANNAH DRAKE FILE
PARENTS: Dennis and Jodi Drake
KNOWN FOR: Setting Union Invitational records in the long jump and the 3200 relay. She also added wins in the triple jump and the 1600 relay.
FAVORITE PLAYER AND WHY: “I don’t have a favorite professional athlete, but looking at past high school athletes like Mariah Burns and Alexis King. They’ve worked so hard and have gotten so far in the state meet. I definitely look up to them.”
FAVORITE TEAM AND WHY: “I love watching Pitt’s basketball team. They’re around here. My dad’s always watching them.”
FUTURE PLANS: “I’d like to do track and field in college. I’m also thinking of minoring in Spanish. I’d like to major in something like business.”