JOHNSON CREEK — Hannah Constable is kind of done with being special.
She’s much more interested in becoming part of something special.
The Johnson Creek senior officially accepted the challenge of joining a major college track and field program on Monday when she signed her National Letter of Intent (NLI) to attend the University of Minnesota.
Constable has been a dominant performer at the WIAA Division 3 level, having won three top-ten medals at the WIAA State Cross Country Championships and seven medals at the WIAA State Track and Field Championships. Among those medals are three consecutive 800-meter run titles and one 400-meter dash title.
Those achievements drew the attention of several smaller college programs, but Constable had bigger aspirations.
“I had always thought, what if I went somewhere crazy, like the Big Ten?,” Constable said. “That’s always been my dream. The fact that it’s actually a reality is just so crazy, and it’s amazing. I still can’t believe it, at all. A lot of colleges, a lot of D-III schools were recruiting me. The thing they always said was, ‘You can still be top here, you can still have competition and you can be the top level of our team.’ That is something that, it was good to hear that, but it wasn’t what I was looking for.
“Just for so long, I have been No. 1, or I have been at the top. I haven’t been able to be in the middle. I have had that stress. Being able to be in that middle is awesome and being able to not focus on, am I going to win, or am I going to be able to meet my goals and my times. That’s why I am excited to be in the middle.”
The idea of being a cog in the machine, a part of relay teams with athletes of similar caliber or better really appealed to Constable. That’s what the Minnesota coaching staff offered when making officials visits to the Constable home.
“I am very excited for that (relays),” Constable said. “Just seeing all the other middle distance girls that are being recruited or have already committed. It’s really awesome that I’ll have that group of girls to work with. Like, I love the boys, but just being able to be with a team that cares that much. That’s something I am really excited for.”
Constable’s parents, Jeff and Paula, were track and field standouts at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. They sent their oldest child to running camps managed by their alma mater, and have served as coaches and mentors to her ever since. But they were careful not to cross the line between mentoring and being domineering.
“We’re really excited,” Paula Constable said. “She’s excited. She’s definitely looking forward to it. It’s exciting (for Jeff and I), you see, but at the same time, because we are both involved in coaching, there is always that question, are we doing the right thing? Are we too involved? What is it like just to be a parent? I guess in the end, it’s always been up to her.
“We never made it out for her to compete in college or at a specific level, so that was all her decision. We didn’t put that pressure on her. She enjoyed going up to the running camps (at UW-SP) every year. As she got a little bit older, she knew she wanted to see what else was out there.”
Both parents were impressed with how Minnesota handled the recruiting process.
“As a mom, I felt really comfortable with her being in their hands with their approach to their program, their values, their positivity,” Paula Constable said. “It just felt like a good fit for her. We were both really impressed with their recruiting process. It was a hard act to follow, honestly.
“They definitely set the bar on different colleges and how they acted to us, and how they came across to us and her,” Jeff Constable said. “The individual attention that the coaches gave to Hannah was very impressive. She did it.”
The visit to the U of M campus also made an impression.
“All of us, when we went to Minnesota, we were mind-blown by all the opportunities that you can get as an athlete,” Hannah Constable said. “They really care about you and we were all (amazed). I am sure my dad shed a few tears, which is awesome. He doesn’t normally show a lot of emotion. Those (moments, like the state meets) are the rare times where he’ll cry. That’s always the best.”
No scholarship was provided up front. Those are merit based in this situation.
“They only give out a very small amount of scholarships,” Hannah Constable said. “Full rides, that’s not really a thing. Right now, I don’t have anything, but to get scholarships, you have to be running national times, which I am not doing yet, but in the future probably I am looking to do that. I am looking to set that goal.”
Constable will look to add to her high school medal count one last time at the state track and field meet in June. Then, she eagerly will head to the next level, where success isn’t guaranteed, but the potential to excel is limitless.
“That will be exciting,” Paula Constable said. “We are excited for her because she is excited about this next step after high school. We’ll see where she develops over four to five years. It will be interesting. I feel confident they will work with her and do what she needs.
She is really excited about being on the team and training with girls that are above what she has accomplished. She’s (looking forward to) having that different role. It will be as any parent says, ‘Where will my kid be in a few years after they get that maturity and experience?’”