BIBLE HILL – Hannah Arsenault has proven herself a top-tier running talent in the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association.
Now she’ll get the chance to see how she stacks up against the country’s best as she competes at the CCAA cross-country running championships Friday and Saturday at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, Ont.
“I’m pretty excited,” the 19-year-old native of St. Martins, N.B., said.
She should be. The event will be Arsenault’s first national appearance at the college level.
Arsenault, a plant science major in her second year at Dalhousie, stormed to the conference title as a freshman in 2014 after sweeping all four regular-season meets. She crossed the line in 17:44 in the 5km event at the conference championship, which helped the Rams to a second-place finish in the team standings. Her performance also netted her all-conference honours.
So far in 2015, Arsenault has followed the same path. Again, she won all four conference meets including a second conference title with a 21:55 performance Oct. 24 in Brookvale, P.E.I. She was named the conference runner of the year and is a member of the all-conference team lineup.
Her performances have been a pleasure to watch for her coach, Joy Galloway-Jones.
“She’s amazing,” Jones, the 2014 conference coach of the year, said. “Watching her run is beautiful. She’s so graceful and fast.”
Being naturally gifted, certainly helps, but Jones said Arsenault isn’t afraid of putting in the work necessary to take her talent to the next level. She works on her conditioning year round with the help of Galloway-Jones and several coaches back home.
“She has such an internal drive,” Jones said. “She is very self motivated and works so hard. She absolutely deserves this opportunity and she’s going to do well.”
All that hard work doesn’t seem like work at all for Arsenault, who simply loves to run. Since picking up the sport eight years ago, Arsenault has also run the 800m, 1,500m and 3,000m events in track and has tried her hand at half marathons.
“For me, it’s therapeutic,” Arsenault said. “It’s a great way for me to relieve stress and I just enjoy it a lot.”
Arsenault said she hopes to finish the national event in 20:30 or faster and said she feels she can get there, although several factors will play into her result.
“It’ll depend on the weather and the course and how you feel that day,” she said. “But being at a national event with all the top runners just pushes me that much more to go faster.”