Holden cross country runner Rett Hankins closed out his junior season by competing in the MSHSAA Class 3 Cross Country Championships held at Gans Creek Cross Country Course in Columbia Saturday, Nov. 4.
Hankins placed 67th in the field of 168 finishers by clocking a personal record time of 17:26 in the race as he ran at the state championships for the third time in his high school cross country career.
“I felt pretty good,” said Hankins after the race. “I got boxed in a little bit, but I ended up running extremely fast. My two-mile split was faster than my two-mile for track, so I PR’ed there. Then, I was able to pass a lot of people. I didn’t get trapped on the outside like I did during the Gans Classic.”
Running in the Gans Creek Classic Meet in late September this season, Hankins turned in a time of 18:30 as he has gained familiarity with the course over his three seasons as a state meet qualifier, and by competing in the regular season Gans Creek Classic Meet. His most recent time on the course in this year’s state meet improved his previous PR by about 44 seconds.
“All week I would say what are you going to do today,” said Holden cross country coach Ben Kiger in regard to Hankins’s preparation for the state meet after the runner worked through an ailing hamstring at the district meet. “You can’t argue with the results…17:26 He finished 67th. I think he was ranked in the 80s coming in. He ran his PR on the best course to do it. It’s a testament to him.”
At last year’s state meet on the same course, Hankins timed out at 19:02 to place 130th. His freshman season ended with him placing 127th in a time of 18:47 at the state meet.
Hankins ran as the Holden boys team’s number-one runner throughout this season as first-year high school team members Evan Robinson, Joseph Samilin, Gerard Costa, and Noel Petitpierre joined him on the squad.
Approaching the state meet on Saturday, Hankins used graduated Eagle runner Zach Willis’s junior season state meet time of 17:45 as a target to aim for. Willis and Hankins both represented Holden on the state meet course the past two seasons.
“Again, he’s done this with no one pushing him all year long,” said coach Kiger. “There is no one making him run faster, so it’s literally him looking inward and going, ‘I want to be better.’
“We talked about 17:45 and beating Zach junior year to junior year, and Zach can admit that was 19 seconds (faster),” continued coach Kiger in reference to Hankins’s challenge to match Willis’s time. “I’m excited to see what he can do this next year. He’s putting himself in a position where some (college) coaches might say, ‘Hey, we want this kid.’
“I think this summer will be big for him. Track season will be big for him. Then, we’ll look and see what happens next year in cross country.”
On Saturday, Hankins enjoyed the moment of setting a personal record in his third state meet appearance while settling into his next sports season.
“Junior year…I mean I get a day off, then I’ve got 6 a.m. practice for basketball Monday,” said Hankins. “I’m happy with today’s time.”