There are only two spots remaining in the adidas Dream girls mile field for 2015 and it is hard to believe that a runner of the caliber of Hannah Long is currently on the outside looking in for a bid. Last year, the 10-time Missouri individual state champion finished fourth with a personal record of 4:44.01. But between the auto qualifiers, some girls running fast times early and the national cross country champions all drawing bids, the second-highest returnee from last year's race at Icahn Stadium is still hoping she will be one of the final two invites.
The Stanford-bound senior could have raced in the Prefontaine Classic high school girls mile tonight with a clear opportunity to prove herself worthy of a spot in the Dream Mile, as many of the top preps in the nation will face off at Hayward Field. She was, in fact, one of the first athletes that meet management sought to invite to Eugene.
But instead, the team-oriented Long turned down the invitation to stay at home in Missouri this weekend to compete at the state championship. Her Eureka High School teammates were certainly grateful, as Long's 2:06 split propelled their 4x800 meter relay to a third consecutive state title on Friday afternoon.
Eureka head cross country and track coach Kally Fischer not only acknowledges that Hannah is the most talented athlete that she has or possibly ever will coach, but says that the three-time Foot Locker finalist is one of the most humble kids she has ever coached.
Fischer jokes that Hannah needs to get on Twitter and be a better promoter of her running like some of the other top runners in the nation. Long lets her legs do the talking, but apparently has a strong fan base on social media as she is one of the leaders in MileSplit's fan voting for who deserves the next invitation to the Dream Mile and currently has 4,766 votes as of 5 PM on Friday night.
One of the greatest distance runners ever produced from the state of Missouri, the senior will compete in her final stateside high school track and field meet this weekend. She is just getting started with the 4x800m, as her four races over two days include two relays (4x800/4x400) and two individual races (1600/800). After last year, when she set the state meet record in the 1600m only to see it be taken down moments later in the other classification race by Taylor Werner, Long not only looks to put that state meet record of reach but remind the rest of the nation that she belongs in the Dream Mile once again by putting down a fast solo time on Saturday.
MileSplit interviewed Long just prior to her state meet weekend as she prepares to cement her legacy in her home state of Missouri as well as further her post-season opportunities in the process. She is one of several top distance girls this weekend who need to run fast solo times to impress for one of the final adidas Dream mile spots. Regardless of whether she receives an adidas Dream invite or not, Long has done enough to prove she belongs with the nation's elite this spring and throughout her high school career.
Eureka coach Kally Fischer worked with Hannah Long from at a young age with the St. Louis Blazers track club in Missouri. It was clear by middle school, when Hannah ran a 5:08 mile, that Eureka High School would be blessed with quite a talent for the next four years.
MileSplit: How did you first get started running?
Hannah Long: I first started running in middle school when I joined a local track club called the St. Louis Blazers. I initially joined to stay in shape for soccer, but I fell in love with the sport and decided that I'd like to give running a try. All of the coaching staff and the runners for the Blazers were just fun people in general and I really enjoyed their practices. It was the people involved in this sport that initially lured me in and has kept my passion for running burning.
Entering her final state meet in Missouri, Hannah Long has won a total of 10 individual titles including 7 in track and 3 in cross country.
MileSplit: What was an early running moment for you that you realized that you could be very good in the sport?
Long: I wouldn't say that there was one moment that I realized this. I think over my experiences of competing in club track during middle school, I started to realize my passion for the sport.
MileSplit: What are your goals for this weekend's state meet? What are your feelings going into your final high school state meet?
Long: This weekend I really just want to soak up all of these final moments with my team and enjoy my last meet ever in the Eureka uniform. It's truly going to be bitter sweet finishing these last few races this weekend and I'm so glad I get to do it with my teammates by my side. On the first day of the meet (Friday) I'll be running the 4x800 and 4x400 prelims with my teammates. I'm super excited for both of these relays because I absolutely love the excitement and team effort that goes into a relay.
The Eureka 4x800 has placed first the past two years in a row and to repeat that once again would be an absolute dream for all four of us! For the 1600 and 800 on Saturday, my goal is just to put it all out there and leave that track one last time without any regrets. My training is going really well and I know my coach has prepared me for some big PR's and so I'm excited to see where I am at going into the post season.
MileSplit: Knowing that still haven't gotten an invite yet to adidas Dream mile, are you going to try and focus on running a fast time in the 1600 or going to try and conserve yourself for the other races this weekend?
Long: The 1600 is actually in the second(and last) day of the state meet so the only event I will have after it is the open 800. It may be a little challenging to run the 800 a little less than 2 hours after the 1600 but that's what my training has prepared me for. I will not be conserving anything in the 1600.
Hannah Long on the podium at last year's Missouri State Outdoor Track & Field Champions after setting the state 1600 record in 4:46.21, which was broken only moments later while on the podium by Taylor Werner. She got the state record back a few weeks later the adidas Dream Mile. (Photo by Nancie Leonard)
MileSplit: At last year's state outdoor meet. You broke the state meet record in the 1600 and then only moments later saw Taylor Werner take it down. What were your feelings that day from breaking the record then soon after seeing it be broken again?
Long: It was a little sad so watch my record go down as I was literally standing on the podium right after my race. At the same time though, I was pretty proud to watch a fellow Missourian run that fast in the same day. It was pretty exciting to watch Taylor run that fast too!
She could have been racing individually at Hayward Field on Friday in the Prefontaine Classic high school girls mile, but instead she was anchoring her Eureka 4x800 to a third straight Missouri state title with a 2:06 split. Another example of the team player that is Hannah Long. (Photo by Kally Fischer)
MileSplit: You were invited to Prefontaine Classic this weekend as well which could have put you in a quality field and great opportunity to run a fast time, but elected to run in your state meet. Did you consider the Pre Classic and what ultimately was deciding factors to run in state meet?
Long: I was super pumped when I got the invitation to the Pre Classic! It seems like such a neat event and the competition there will be amazing! I did consider it but ultimately I felt deep down that I owe it to Missouri and my teammates to run one last race in the state that has supported me for so long. I don't think it would be fair to the teammates in my relays and I think if I were to look back on this decision some time in the future, I would regret not racing at my last state meet senior year.
Hannah Long finished fourth in last year's adidas Dream Mile with a personal best time and Missouri state record performance of 4:44.01. Still yet to get an invite, she hopes the state meet will show she is worthy of a return trip to NYC.
MileSplit: What was the adidas Dream mile experience like for you? What did you enjoy most out of the trip and remember most from the race itself?
Long: The Dream Mile has definitely been one of my favorite racing experiences ever! It was my first time ever going to New York and seeing SO MANY PEOPLE walking the streets in one city just astonished me and was for sure memorable. The mile is my favorite event so to be able to race in the company of such elite high school runners was an amazing opportunity. I would say that was probably the first elite race that I truly felt like I had the ability to be competitive and race aggressively against some of the top high schoolers in the nation. My finish there got me excited for the next track season and has been motivating me this year.
Despite an All-American finish as a sophomore, her finishes at her next two Foot Locker Nationals appearances in 2013 and 2014 were a struggle for Hannah Long. (Photo by Jeff George)
MileSplit: After a strong 10th place All-American finish in Foot Locker Nationals as a sophomore, the last two appearances and races in San Diego haven't gone as well finishing 23rd in 2012 and 19th in 2013. What do you think happened or reasons didn't perform well in those two races and what did you learn from those races?
Long: Although those races were very disappointing, I think they were very important lessons for me and my growth as a runner in the future. I think in those races I put to much pressure on myself to better my 10th place finish that I didn't relax and enjoy the experience. I also got somewhat overwhelmed by the elite level of competition that surrounded me and I let that grow into self doubt. As I'm sure this is true for many other girls at Foot Locker Nationals, it was difficult for me to go from racing all year by myself to having a whole group of 40-50 girls to race against who are just as strong as you. From these races, I have learned to relax when racing against higher level competition and to focus on my own goals/race plan and not anyone else.
Hannah Long won't be alone next fall at Stanford. She will be joining a program that annually brings in some of the best distance running talent in the entire nation.
MileSplit: We understand that you essentially train by yourself? How difficult is that? Are you looking forward to next year at Stanford having a huge group of girls to run with?
Long: Yes, I do most of my workouts on my own so it can be a little bit difficult at times to push myself in hard workouts. I am really looking forward to having a team to run with at Stanford! It will be so much easier to have girls running by my side everyday.
MileSplit: We hear that you are a gardener? What got you into gardening and why do you like it? What do you grow?
Long: Well.. I don't know if I'd call myself a gardner haha. I'd say my two little brothers are more involved in it than me, but we do have a large garden at my house and at my grandfather's farm. We grow all kinds of things from pumpkins in the fall to tomatoes, peppers, green beans, strawberries and a bunch more! It is kind of nice to always have fresh fruits and veggies at the house! It's been a passion of my grandfather and when he passed away, I guess us grandchildren kind of took it on as a way to remember him.
What is more intimidating to boys... Hannah Long's 4:41 mile PR or her manly Dodge RAM 1500 V9 pickup truck that she drives to school everyday?
MileSplit: We also have been told that you are the proud owner of Ford F-150 truck? First, we need a picture as proof and why a truck?
Long: Haha yes I do drive a truck! It was actually my dad's idea to get me a truck. I think he secretly wants it for himself. At first, I was a little unsure about it, but now it has really grown on me. I like driving it because I sit up super high and I can see everything around me much better than in a smaller car. I still haven't mastered the parking very well though!
At the Kansas Relays in the adidas Dream auto qualifier in mid-April, Hannah Long led Stephanie Jenks for over 1500 meters in the race until Jenks passed her down the final stretch. Long hopes to reunite and race Jenks again at the Dream Mile which both would then be the top returnees from last year's race when they finished 2nd (Jenks) & 4th (Long) respectively. (Photo by Deb Jenks)
MileSplit: How excited would you be if you received that second invitation to the dream mile? What would you do with that opportunity? Do you think you could go sub 4:40 in the right race?
Long: I would be beyond ecstatic to get the chance to race in the Dream Mile again! I have been training all season with that race in mind and all of my workouts have been geared towards the off season, rather than just State. All of my training has been going really well and I definitely think sub 4:40 is very attainable. I think that the wide field of great competition at the Dream Mile would help push me to a time that I may never be able to run on my own.
Hannah Long's CredentialsPR's:
800m - 2:09.03
1600m - 4:43.67
Mile - 4:41.01
3200m - 10:20.65
5K - 16:51.63
- 3-time Foot Locker National Finalist
- 2012 Foot Locker All-American (10th Place)
- 7-time Missouri State Track Champion
- 3-time Missouri State Cross Country Champion
- Missouri State Record Holder in 1600/Mile
- 4th at 2014 adidas Dream Mile
- 2-time Gatorade Athlete of the Year
- Hannah Long's Athlete Profile
- Missouri 3A/4A/5A State Meet Coverage
- VOTE: Who Deserves To Be in adidas Dream Girls Mile?