ST. JOSEPH – In running, they say it's just as important to be strong mentally as it is to be strong physically, and no one knows the reality of that better than St. Joseph-Ogden senior Hannah Hogan.
As a freshman, Hogan burst onto the cross-country scene and immediately opened eyes with her ability. She won regional and sectional championships and had a top-10 finish at state. Many thought by this time she would have at least one state championship under her belt.
But then came her sophomore season. Hogan was unable to duplicate the success she enjoyed as a freshman and actually digressed.
"I just kind of mentally broke down," Hogan said. "I would have a bad race, and I let it get to me a little bit. One bad race turned into another, and I started to really get down on myself."
It's not that she didn't work at it because she did. But no matter how much she ran, or how hard she worked, when it came race time, Hogan just couldn't get herself into the right frame of mind to compete.
"I kind of felt like I was expected to progress from what I did as a freshman," she said. "I think I put a lot of pressure on myself, and when I wasn't running as well as I did before then that's when it kind of started to go bad."
Hogan started turning things around early in her junior year, getting her 3-mile time close to what it was as a freshman. But then her progress was derailed when she started suffering from severe shin splints.
She had the support of her coaches and teammates, but the most help Hogan received was at home. She credits her father, Tracy, with helping her through the tough times, especially when she thought about quitting running.
"My dad was always there saying positive things," Hogan said. "Just day in and day out he was the one that was there saying I needed to step it up and that he believed in me."
The rough patch was tough on Hannah, but Tracy Hogan said it was just as tough on him watching his daughter go through what she did.
The two have been running together since Hannah was 8 years old, so he knew better than anyone that she was better than what she was showing.
"It was one of the toughest things I've gone through," Tracy Hogan said. "It really hit me when she was getting beat by girls she had beat in the past and girls that she had no business losing to. Finally she just got to a point where she figured it out. She just got tired of getting beat."
So far this season, Hogan is making up for lost time. She finished third at last weekend's Mahomet-Seymour Invitational, an event in which she finished 12th a year ago.
"It's a lot more fun now," she said. "I don't dread coming to meets anymore like I used to."
Hogan hopes her success can carry her to the next level.
"I'd like to break 18 (minutes) and do well in the regionals and sectionals," she said. "Hopefully I can get those things done and I'd like to be able to run at SIU-E, so I'm trying to do whatever it takes to get there."