It’s 6:45 a.m., and the sun is attempting to rise over Cottage Grove. While the rest of the town is sound asleep, Hannah Albrecht is already in the weightroom.
Four days per week for the past four years, the Cottage Grove High School senior has spent her zero period before the regular school day lifting weights in preparation for the season’s sport. Soccer, basketball, volleyball, track — Albrecht’s done it all.
For those of you interested in the numbers, she’s totaled about 148 school mornings spent in the weight room per year, or around 592 days of her high school career, not including weekend or summer workouts.
These statistics also don’t include the time Albrecht has spent maintaining her 4.1 weighted GPA, her status as ASB president for two consecutive years, involvement in FBLA, Interact, Key Club or AP classes, just to name a few.
“It’s pretty phenomenal what she’s able to accomplish in 24 hours each day,” laughed Cottage Grove High School Head Track Coach and teacher Ricky Knutson. “That’s for sure.”
The four year three-sport athlete said she has dedicated so much of her time to weight lifting not only because of the competitive edge it gives but also for the benefit of minimizing injuries.
Through the first three years of high school and even before, Albrecht struggled with knee injuries, which prevented her from competing in full track seasons. This year is the first that Albrecht has been injury free coming into the track season.
“Junior year, I got a little more serious about [lifting], and as I did, I noticed that I was hurt less and less often because I was getting so much stronger,” Albrecht said. “Since then, it’s been a big thing for me.”
But don’t let the injuries fool you. Albrecht has used a combination of talent and resiliency to propel herself to becoming “the foundation of our girl’s [track] team,” Knutson said, even before this season.
Last year, she made the state track and field qualifiers in all four of her events: the 100 meter- dash, 200 meters, 400 meters and 4x400 relay. This included a finals appearance in the 400 meters, where Albrecht placed seventh.
Her stellar finish and dedication to the sport earned Albrecht the opportunity to continue her path as a student-athlete. In the fall, she will be attending the University of Redlands, just east of Los Angeles, where she will compete on the university's track team. Albrecht plans to enroll in the school’s five year program, where she can complete a Master’s degree in biology while simultaneously earning a teaching certification. Her career goal is to become a high school biology teacher as well as track and basketball coach.
Albrecht credits Knutson, her four year track coach and former Health teacher, with the decision to pursue this career path.
“Our track coach has probably been the most impactful person in my life,” Albrecht said. “He’s been a huge inspiration for me.”
Looking at colleges, Albrecht had an idea of what she wanted from a school academically; it was athletics that she was unsure of pursuing. But a spring break trip to the University of Redlands’ campus and talks with the head track coach beginning in winter solidified Albrecht’s decision to attend the school.
“I was focused more on academics originally; I applied to Division I schools,” Albrecht said. “But then it kind of set in that I need something like sports to ground me and keep me a little more motivated, and I’m so passionate about running that I couldn’t imagine not being part of a team.”
On the visit to campus, Albrecht was able to meet the track team, watch practice, talk with science teachers and even catch her first glimpse of a palm tree. And though she will not make the trip south to move in until the end of August, she said she is looking forward to getting started.
For now however, Albrecht is keeping her sights set on her final track season with the Lions. Her ultimate goal this season is to break a minute in the 400 meters. She also hopes to make it back to Hayward Field one more time for the state championships.
“What an awesome kid. It’s going to be bittersweet seeing her go,” Knutson said. “She’s been such a great role model for all the other kids, and a pleasure to work with.”