Vanderbilt's Hannah Jumper Named SEC Freshman Runner Of The Year

Former Baylor Star Leading Lady Commodores In Regional Meet Friday

Sunday, November 4, 2012 - by John Hunt

For anyone who knows Hannah Jumper and her reputation as a runner, you're aware that she's got a tiger in her tank.

She had a brilliant career at Baylor as she earned All-State honors five straight years in cross country before finishing with a bang in track as well.

She graduated in 2011 and signed a scholarship to run for Vanderbilt.  She redshirted last year in cross country as she was recovering from a stress fracture in her leg, but she came back stronger than ever this fall.

Being one of the top runners for Vanderbilt all year, she posted a time of 20 minutes, 41 seconds last weekend at Nashville's Percy Warner Park to finish seventh at the Southeastern Conference Championship meet.

Her finish in the top seven earned her All-SEC honors and she was later named the SEC Freshman Runner of the Year.

Jumper and her teammates are now focusing their attention on Friday's NCAA Regional race in Tallahassee.  The top two teams qualify for the NCAA Championships the following week in Louisville.

"Vanderbilt has been a great place for me to be and it's been a good year for me running-wise," Jumper expressed by phone early Sunday afternoon.

"As a team, we've done well this year.  I'm just trying to adjust to the high expectations we have. Right now, we're tapering for the Regional," she added, noting that she's currently logging between 50-55 miles per week.

The SEC recognizes outstanding accomplishments every week, but Jumper was never honored on those weekly lists.

"It's a huge honor to be named Freshman of the Year and I was so surprised.  It's just a testiment to how our coaches have trained us," Jumper added.

Steve Keith is the head cross country coach for the Lady Commodores.  Nobody is any more proud of this latest accomplishment for the 19-year-old Jumper.

"To start with, last year wasn't the way she wanted her college career to begin, but she put in a great summer of hard work and she came back strong this fall," Keith explained.

"Hannah has a great head on her shoulders and is very mature for a college runner.  She's been one of our leaders all year. 

"I know that she didn't get any of those weekly honors, but in our program, it's all about how they perform at the end of the year.  I knew she had the potential to be All-SEC.  The key for us is to recruit good kids and then to be able to develop them into strong runners," Keith added.

"We won the SEC meet last year and finished sixth at the NCAA.  We're on the bubble this year, but our top three runners all have a great shot of qualifying as individuals even if we don't advance as a team," he said, referring to seniors Kristen Findley and Liz Anderson along with Jumper.

"We did our 10-mile tempo run early Saturday morning so Hannah could go watch her old Baylor team at the state cross country meet.  I'm happy to hear that they won," Keith concluded.

Jumper's season started on the right foot as she was the individual winner at the Belmont Invitational with a time of 14:09 for the 4K. 

Her top performance came in Wisconsin at the Adidas Invitational when she finished 59th with a time of 20:33 against the toughest competition of the season.  She later placed 25th at the Greater Louisville Classic with a 5K time of 17:16.

Hannah Jumper had an incredible career at Baylor and it appears that she's on her way to more greatness at the next level with the Vanderbilt Lady Commodores.

Who knows what will happen next Friday in Tallahassee?  Based on her performances in the past, she could be saving the best for last.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)

 


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