June 12, 2014
Results | Results | Photo Gallery | Hanson Interview
EUGENE, Ore.-- Sophomore Molly Hanson admitted before this week's NCAA outdoor championships that advancing to the national meet exceeded her expectations for her first season at Wisconsin.
Hanson continued to surprise herself on Thursday during the semifinals of the 1500 meters. The Dodgeville, Wisconsin, native raced her way to a fourth-place finish in her semifinal heat in 4 minutes, 21.28 seconds to advance to Saturday's final.
"I'm really happy with my performance," Hanson said. "I wanted to qualify and I didn't want to get boxed in. I was trying to stay outside of Lane 1, but I ended up getting boxed in. I tried to stay calm and kick in the end and try as hard as I could to make the finals."
After starting the race in the middle of the pack, Hanson made her move on the final lap, accelerating down the homestretch to earn one of the five automatic qualifying spots from the first heat. Emily Lipari crossed the line first in 4:21.14, as only three-tenths of a second separated the top five runners.
"That was a great job by Molly in her first NCAA race," Wisconsin director of track and field and cross country Mick Byrne said. "It was a slow, tactical race -- a lot of bumping -- and she showed great maturity and toughness. She was able to maneuver her way around the last lap when it became physical and she didn't panic.
"She had a great last 60 meters when she was under a lot of pressure as there were eight girls fighting for the five spots."
Hanson's time of 4:21.28 ranked as the day's 12th-best time overall. Stephanie Brown of Arkansas won the second heat in 4:16.10.
"Most of the races I have been in have been kind of slow and (became) a kick-off at the end," Hanson said. "I would actually prefer for it to be a little bit faster as I get a little bit nervous when the pace is too slow and when I'm waiting for the kick to happen."
Hanson will race at 4:29 p.m. on Saturday in the 1500 finals, and has a goal in mind when she toes the line with the 11 other runners.
"I don't want to think too much about the game plan for Saturday," she said. "I think this has been a successful year, but I would love to earn All-America honors, that would be awesome."
Ellenwood in contention after first day of heptathlon
After entering the meet as the No. 22 seed in the heptathlon, freshman Georgia Ellenwood ended the first day of the competition sitting in eighth place with a score of 3,551 points that included a personal-best mark in the high jump.
The Langley, British Columbia, native began her day in 15th after finishing the 100 hurdles in 14.19.
Ellenwood soared into the top 10 after tying for the high jump win with a clearance of 5 feet, 10 inches. That mark bested her previous personal-best of 5-9, which she set at the Big Ten championships last month.
Ellenwood had a heave of 34-11 1/4 in the shot put, but she ended the day on a high note by finishing ninth in the 200 meters in 25.14 to vault herself into eighth place.
"We're proud of her for the way she competed today," Byrne said. "There's a lot of big names in the competition and she showed that she can keep up with some of the best in the country."
The heptathlon resumes Friday with the long jump at 2:30 p.m. (CT), followed by the javelin and 800 meters.
The Badgers have had at least one All-America in the heptathlon dating back to the 2009 season.