By EDDIE CELAYA
Standing nearly 6 feet tall with stunning red hair, sophomore Hannah Bartz is used to standing out in a crowd. Put her on the track and she doesn’t just stand out; she races to the front of the pack.
“We were always pretty fast in elementary school,” Bartz said of herself and her equally fast, just as brightly redheaded sisters. “We were always the fastest girls in the school.”
Thus began the story for Bartz, the third of four daughters. Her mother, a middle-distance runner, and her father, a football lineman, met in college at Utah State. As children, the Bartz girls showed early athletic promise.
They played “almost every sport,” Bartz said. “We all played soccer for a long time. We got into running and track and stuff in middle school and high school.”
Her first track meet in middle school hinted at her prodigious talent. It also made for great laughs.
“The one thing I remember most, it was really embarrassing,” Bartz said. “They put me in the 200 meter and I had never run it. I thought you could switch lanes, and so I did. I almost got disqualified but it didn’t matter because I was so far ahead of everyone.”
Hijinks aside, Bartz continued to run sprints and picked up jumping events in high school at Marana Mountain View.
Unlike some of her peers, Bartz took the sport seriously. She finished her senior year with silver medals in the long jump and 100-meter dash at the Arizona 4A state championship. In both events, the eventual champion went on to break state records.
“It was actually more encouraging,” she said of the defeats. “I was really excited. I knew I could do more and more great things.”
At first, Bartz hoped to attend a four-year university out of high school. Because there was limited interest from big Division I schools, she considered giving up the sport.
“Pima was the only college that offered me anything and really wanted me to come to compete,” she said. “So I was like, ‘all right.’”
Attending Pima Community College brought Bartz in contact with her current jumps coach and PCC’s recruiting coordinator, Chad Harrison.
She credits Harrison with bringing her times down and her jump up.
“We have never had an athlete like Hannah before,” Harrison said during a recent practice. “We’ve never had an athlete as strong as Hannah, as fast as Hannah, who can jump like Hannah.”
Harrison “has actually helped me get a lot stronger and get more of the technique that I really need to get those distances in long jump,” Bartz said.
Bartz says coaching helped her win silver at the National Junior College Athletics Association Indoor Nationals
meet in March.
“The fourth, third and second positions were all bunched at like mid-18 feet,”Bartz said.
It came down to her last jump. “All I needed was to pop a 19-footer, and I was golden,” she said.
She jumped 19 feet, 1.25 inches. While her specialty is in jumps, Bartz has made a splash in sprints this season. At
the Aztec Indoor Invitational, she won the 60-meter dash in a school record time of 7.79 seconds.
A week later, Pima sophomore Amber McCroskey lowered Bartz’s mark to 7.78 seconds.
At the NJCAA Indoor Nationals, Bartz ran a 7.73. McCroskey ran a 7.72. The rivalry between the two isn’t exactly
Carl Lewis versus Ben Johnson, but it’s there.
“We are really good friends,” Bartz said, before adding, “Having Amber to push me is really nice.”
With NJCAA Outdoor Nationals scheduled for May 18 in Hutchinson, Kansas, Bartz finds herself practicing and lifting more.
“On the jumps end we are up, we go and do our jump technique stuff and that takes a couple hours,” she said.
All of that preparation can make for late nights. “We usually go home on Mondays and Tuesdays around 9:30 or 10 p.m.,” she said.
Still, Bartz knows the hard work is paying off. She recently visited Idaho State University for a recruiting trip.
“The offer is on the table for a full ride, so it’s a very big option,” she said. “But I still have some other schools I’m looking at right now.”
Harrison sees Bartz more than holding her own at the next level.
“Because of the way it works for meets now, we already compete against four-year schools,” he said. “She is still getting stronger, and her technique is improving.”
Before her time at Pima is up, Bartz still has a few goals she wants to accomplish. Her major, elementary education, is helping set her up for life off the track.
“I already know I want to be an elementary school teacher,” she said.
Her goals for the track seem just as certain. “I know I can break the outdoor 200-meter record for here, and I think it’s 24.8,” she said. “I think I got that.”