Prep Sports

Xavier's Hannah Denman found a home in cross country

HS journalism: Senior would like to see others find their 'happy place'

Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Hannah Denman (center) enjoyed her three years on the Saints’ cross country team. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Hannah Denman (center) enjoyed her three years on the Saints’ cross country team. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Finding one’s happy place in activities can be hard for some high school students.

Xavier senior Hannah Denman was able to find her happy place in cross country.

Denman has been a member of the Xavier varsity girls’ cross country team since her sophomore year. She ran in the state cross country meet in Fort Dodge on Nov. 2 and placed 88 in Class 3A with a time of 21:04, improving by 22 spots from her 110 place finish last year.

“I was very happy that I was able to improve my placement and time so much,” Denman said. “I crossed the finish line feeling exhausted, but I knew I left it all on the course.”

Being a senior is bittersweet for Denman. She has some great memories from the last three years that she will take with her when she graduates.

“The thing I will miss most about cross-country is the team,” Denman said. “These girls are the best group of people I have had the opportunity to practice with. They push me every single day so that I can be my very best.”

Xavier junior Lizzy Schmitt has spent these last three years with Denman and was very proud to see all Denman accomplished at such a high level. She fed off Denman’s energy, positivity and dedication and said Denman made her want to be better.

“She is always there for us and gives great advice,” Schmitt said. “I was not surprised when she qualified for state because she works extremely hard and has pushed everyone else on the team to do the same.”

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In the spirit of Denman giving “great advice,” she wanted to give one last bit to all of the Xavier girls looking to find their happy place.

“I hope that a lot of girls will give cross-country a shot,” Denman said. “Even if you do not like running, the community will draw you in and buy into the process quickly. I gave cross country a shot my sophomore year and loved that I got to better myself everyday and accomplish more than I ever thought I could.”

Even though Denman’s time as a Xavier cross country runner is over, she will always be grateful to have something that she can truly call a home away from home.

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