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03/11/2023 07:29 AM

Babek Proven as a Sound Sprinter at Lasell

Valley Regional Class of 2021 graduate and cross country/track alum Hanna Babek continues to excel at competitive running with the Lasell University womens’ cross country and track teams. Photo courtesy of Hanna Babek

Whether it was as a middle schooler, a Valley Regional High School Warrior, or now as a Lasell University Laser, Hanna Babek has always enjoyed the sport of competitive running and has produced paths of success through each length of the ride.

The Deep River resident and Valley Class of 2021 graduate began running about eight years ago during her middle school years before she was a three-season runner with the Warriors’ girls’ cross country, indoor, and outdoor track teams in sprinting, distance, and relay events.

Now, staying in that same stride as a three-campaign competitor for Lasell University, Hanna continues to blaze new trails for herself–including this most recent indoor season, where she earned personal-best times in the 400 meters with a time of 64.99 seconds, along with the 200 meter race (28.36 ticks), and the 60 meters (8.61 seconds).

“My mom ran a lot when I was younger and did half marathons; she loved it, so it inspired me to run,” says Hanna. “Having a strong support system in my coaches and teammates has helped me in the sport. It is such a hard mental sport and lifestyle because with all three seasons, I am constantly running. Yet it is fun to see my teammates at practice and have fun in and out of practices with them. They have really helped me through, along with my coaches.”

Hanna states that the 200 and its ideal distance may be her preferred event when it comes to the multitude of events she performs in on the track. But she has ventured into the 400 territory as a newcomer this season and is still working hard through adjusting to it.

“The 200 is probably my favorite event,” Hanna says. “I have run it since high school, and it is the perfect distance because it is not too long or short. The 400 can be tough because it is a whole other lap on top of the 200. But my coaches have worked with me and helped me a lot with it.”

The cross country course is more of a conditioning tool for Hanna to help her set the sprinting stage for the forthcoming tandem of track seasons. Yet when it does come to the nitty gritty of her running year, she sees her goals all the way to the finish line.

“It is a big transition between cross country and track. I use cross country to stay in shape during the summer and fall,” says Hanna. “The track seasons are my more competitive seasons, and I hone in on my race models. Our coaches want us to visualize our races all the way through. It can be a hard shift between seasons, but I just think about where I feel I will score the most points.”

Moving onto a whole new campus, new environment, and even a new tier of athletic competition can naturally create trepidation for any young student-athlete, though backed by caring and encouraging coaches on the well-being of the mind, Hanna has become very well adjusted.

“I was nervous going in because it was a new school and team for me,” Hanna says. “Yet my coaches and team have supported me the whole time. The adjustments have been positive; there is a big emphasis here on making sure to take breaks and mental health. It has been more about making the adjustments with balancing schoolwork and sports.”

Lasers’ women’s track Head Coach Ben Biello praises Hanna for not only her drive to constantly and consistently improve upon her prior outing but also being a squad-first individual who is always ready and able to lend a helping hand and listening ear as a teammate.

“Hanna is a long sprinter for us. She specializes in the 200 and 400 and is a key leg of our 4x400 relay. She can also run a great 60 for us when needed,” says Biello. “Hanna has been a great individual to have on the team. She’s an extremely hard worker who’s dedicated to her craft. She wants to do anything she can to get better and holds very high expectations of herself. And she always puts the team first. Hanna possesses every attribute that a coach could ask for. She’s been a pleasure to have on the team, and I’m excited to see her step into leadership roles next season.”

No matter any setbacks or missed meets during her tenure as a Warrior, Hanna has always remained eternally grateful for her time at Valley. She notes that academically she wants to open any and all possible doors toward her future while bolstering her athletic endeavors.

“I loved the Valley Regional program so much, which is why I kept going with running into college. My junior and senior years, there were a lot of meets missed due to COVID years, but I kept going,” says Hanna. “I am a journalism major, and so I would love to get multiple internships as a senior. Athletically, I want to keep improving on the 400, improve my times, and just keep getting better.”