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Senior track star reflects on relationships, injuries, accomplishments

Hannah Prokup has been a track competitor since ninth grade, and success has marked her journey.
Hannah Prokup ’24 (Yearbook Staff)

Senior Hannah Prokup has been running since she can remember. 

With her parents being collegiate athletes, she grew up surrounded by the sport. However, it wasn’t necessarily something she was pushed to do. 

“[My parents] didn’t really want to put me into running because they were like, ‘We don’t want her to feel like she has to be good because her parents were,’” Prokup said. 

Still, she gravitated towards running naturally. What started with taking runs with her dad became a sport she has been doing competitively since ninth grade when she transferred to Strath Haven. 

Her parents continue to support her efforts, and Prokup cites them as huge influences.

“My parents always pushed me to be better,” Prokup said. “They say school comes first, but when I am exhausted from a long day of schoolwork, they always push me to make sure that I am working as hard as I can. They help me stay dedicated and stay focused.” 

Prokup is committed to running Division III cross country and track at Williams College in Massachusetts, where she will be studying Biology and Economics. Still, it has been challenging to stay positive, especially with the injuries she has faced in the last four years. 

“Last year, I sprained my ankle. It took me out of a couple races and messed with my mentality, and then this year at the same meet, I sprained my ankle again,” Prokup said. “That, combined with almost tearing my Achilles tendon, ruined my cross-country season.”

Prokup has learned how to stay motivated despite these obstacles. 

“I have had this goal of mine. Last year, at districts, I came in third in the 3200m. Since then, it’s just been ‘Okay–this outdoor season I’m getting first because there is no reason not to, and I totally can. It’s an attainable goal.’ I think it’s just so ingrained in me that every time I train I think ‘you have been working towards this, you can’t stop now,’” Prokup said. 

The competitive mindset that propels Prokup through every setback she has faced is a significant part of her personality as a runner and something her teammates notice and praise. 

“She leads by example, and she’s very dedicated and very competitive,” senior and cross country co-captain Audrey Stevens said. “I think it’s good for the younger kids to see someone that just gives the sport everything that they’ve got.” 

Stevens also aims to embody parts of Prokup in herself. 

“She is so hard-working, and I don’t think I’ve seen her be lazy about anything,” Stevens said.

“She leads by example, and she’s very dedicated and very competitive.”

— Audrey Stevens '23

Prokup’s hard-working nature has surely paid off, culminating in her third-place finish at districts last year, beating athletes older than her in the two-mile race. Prokup says it is, by far, her favorite track memory.  

“I didn’t really expect too much since I was seeded ninth,” Prokup said. “I had just returned to running the two-mile that year, and I felt good. I pushed, and pushed and I ended up in third. I immediately threw up after crossing the finish line, and then I was just in total disbelief. I was out-of-my-mind happy, and I was sitting there, staring at the ground, wondering, ‘How did that just happen?.’ It was incredible.” 

Stevens shares another special memory with Prokup.

“There was one meet, and we were on the verge of either winning or losing, and we were sitting on the high jump just watching races, and just hoping we would win. We were praying to the track gods, and that was just such a good memory–silly, but good,” Stevens said.

Prokup’s teammate and fellow senior Casey Conway explains that their relationship on the team quickly blossomed into a close friendship.

“You are around these people so much, and being freshmen on the cross country team, you naturally befriend [other freshmen]. And now we’re both captains, and we’ve had a great relationship,” Conway said. 

Conway, like Stevens, notices Prokup’s drive and grit for track.

“I think she is very focused, and not afraid to go after what she wants. She doesn’t back down easily, and she doesn’t complain, she just gets the job done,” Conway said. “She is such a good example of what can happen if you persevere and keep working.” 

Prokup has made it to Districts multiple times, cross-trained with biking and swimming, and practiced tirelessly for years. She even had the chance to run with other Jewish athletes in Israel, an experience she still cherishes. 

Through all these competitive experiences, Prokup has learned one important lesson. 

“As corny as it sounds, make sure you enjoy it, and don’t take it too seriously. As someone who is incredibly competitive and likes to do well, I find that I have my best races when there is very little pressure on me,” Prokup said. 

Additionally, Prokup has cherished the memories and connections she has made while running at Haven. 

“I don’t think any teammate or atmosphere could even come close to touching what we have at Haven. We all just care so much about each other’s success. Every meet I go to, I have a good time, and we really are just like a family.” 

Stevens sums up Hannah as a person and as a runner in just three short words. 

“Hardworking, resilient, and competitive.”

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About the Contributor
Jillian Thomas '24
Jillian Thomas '24, Sports Editor
Jillian is a senior and this is her third year on Panther Press! She is the Sports Editor, and outside of Panther Press, she is a Silks captain, does Speech and Debate, and listens to music!!
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