Justin Hanson, a sophomore on the Mercer cross country team, has made a strong return after suffering several injuries.
Last year, Hanson rolled both ankles in one race, and this year suffered from tendonitis in one knee. Hanson said that these injuries have given him a “mental setback.”
“You have to deal with not practicing with the team which is very hard,” he said.
Hanson said that one of his favorite things about cross country is the “team aspect.”
“There's a huge sense of camaraderie. Everyone knows everyone hurts. You really rely on your teammates for support,” he said.
Friends are the reason Hanson joined cross country in the first place. Hanson joined in 8th grade because two of his best friends were in cross country and he wanted to hang out with them.
“I realized that I wasn’t that bad, and I kept going in high school until it dawned on me, I might be able to in college.”
Hanson enjoys running, especially the “mental reset” it gives him.
“If you’re in a sport like running, it’s because you love it,” he said.
Hanson’s coach, Ryan Bailey, said one of the most impressive things about Hanson’s running is his “very good leg speed,” and that Hanson “is able to close his races very well.”
Despite Hanson’s injuries, he still placed in the top five at his last meet with a time of 29:17 for the 8k.
“This was really rewarding because I put in a lot of work and then lost it because of my injuries. It was rewarding to come back in that race.”
Hanson’s triumphant return to cross country