WEST SUNBURY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Hannah Burgoon is accustomed to running on a variety of cross country courses.
Hilly terrain. Flat. Winding. Wooded and narrow. Burgoon has seen them all.
The toughest? Her home course at Moniteau High School.
“It’s the hardest one I’ve ever ran,” said Burgoon, a senior. “There’s a really big hill at the end of the race. When other teams come here, they all say it’s the hardest course they’ve ever run. Yeah, it’s not my favorite, but it does teach me how to run hills.”
The climb at the end of the course is legendary. It’s a long and steep grade that taxes the best of runners.
It even has a nickname.
“We call it ‘Goat Hill,’” Burgoon said. “The race that I beat the record, somebody brought a goat to the race and it was at the top of the hill. Most people are pretty impressed by Goat Hill.
The daunting slope didn’t stop Burgoon from being the G.O.A.T there. Burgoon broke Moniteau’s course record by more than 30 seconds to become the greatest of all time at conquering that hill.
Running on a challenging home course helped propel Burgoon to a third-place finish at the District 9 Class A Cross Country Championships this fall.
But in the PIAA championship race in Hershey, Burgoon ran well, but fell short of her ultimate goal of placing in the top 25, crossing the finish line in 29th.
“I was pretty proud of myself, but I wish I could have placed top 25 at states,” Burgoon said. “I was very close, but I didn’t quite make it.”
That has serves as motivation for Burgoon this spring on an entirely different kind of course.
Burgoon doesn’t have to fret about hills or rough terrain in track and field. All tracks are pretty much created equal, and she has her sights set on accomplishing some big things on the polyurethane as opposed to the grass and dirt.
Burgoon runs the 800-, 1,600 and 3,200-meter races and she routinely wins all three in every dual meet for the Warriors.
She’s not satisfied with just that. Her best event is the 1,600 and she hopes to break five minutes before the end of the year.
Only one Butler County girl runner has ever run a sub-five minute 1,600 — Slippery Rock’s Erin Cranmer-Hart in 2004 with a time of 4:59.95.
Burgoon’s best time in the event is 5:44, but she feels like she can easily shave that down with better weather and in bigger meets in the final six weeks of the season.
Moniteau has had only two dual meets so far this season.
Last year, Burgoon was the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference Girls Track MVP.
The school record is 5:07.9 set by Alyssa Deal.
“I definitely want to get it in my head that I can’t give up on a race,” Burgoon said. “I need to push myself. I want to get that record. I want to get under five minutes.
“Last year I remember looking at the records and thinking I couldn’t do it,” Burgoon said. “Then I broke a couple of cross country records so it made me really motivated to get this one, too.”
Burgoon is taking that quest seriously.
As a distance runner since she was in the seventh grade, Burgoon is used to logging lots of miles.
She’s taking her training to another level, working with former Slippery Rock University standout Kevin Jewel, who owns the The Rock record in the 800 and was an Olympic hopeful.
Burgoon will run at SRU after she graduates from Moniteau.
“I’m working really, really hard,” Burgoon said. “(Jewel) is a very good coach. He runs with us and trains us really well. It’s pretty hard sometimes, but I just think about the races.”
Burgoon said her quest in each race is to have a better time than the boys’ winner. She also enjoys it when she laps some of her competition.
She’s picking out things like that to help push her toward her ultimate goals.
“I want to win a state championship,”Burgoon said. “If I get under five (minutes), I think I probably could. I hope I can do it.”