Athlete of the Week: Sylvia Hansen

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Gillett runner ends year at state again
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Gillett sophomore Sylvia Hansen runs during the WIAA State Cross-Country Championships at Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids on Oct. 27. (Times Herald photo by Morgan Rode)

Athlete: Sylvia Hansen

Sport: Cross-Country

School: Gillett High School

Year: Sophomore

Gillett’s Sylvia Hansen has been a predominant figure since her first high school varsity cross-country race. She has racked up numerous top finishes and just capped her sophomore season by running at state.

Hansen claimed the first-ever Marinette & Oconto Conference girls championship Oct. 11. She followed that up by taking third in the Division 3 Westfield Sectional on Oct. 20. This Saturday, Hansen placed 27th at the state cross-country championships.

Q: When did your interest in cross-country begin?

A: My interest in cross-country began in about fourth grade when I was a part of a kids for running program that our school provided.

Q: What’s your favorite part about a cross-country meet?

A: One of my favorite things about a cross-country meet is probably the atmosphere. I never get the same welcoming feeling at any other sporting event than a cross-country meet. There’s something about runners that is just different from other people, and to have a bunch of them together is awesome.

Q: Coming from such a small school, how sweet has it been to represent Gillett at state in your first two years of high school?

A: It’s been a honor. I wouldn’t want to represent any other school and am proud to be a Gillett Tiger.

Q: How did you prepare for the cross-country season?

A: I ran about 50 miles every week over the summer. I also attended a lot distance running classes (at Bellin) to work on more than just building mileage.

Q: What motivates you to keep running, whether in an actual meet or in practice or your free time?

A: My coaches, teammates, friends and family are always a huge motivation to keep me going when I run. I’m so blessed to have such great support from them. Another thing would also be the thought in my head of how hard I have trained for it. I keep my goals in my head and I tell myself the only way I’m going to reach them is if I put in the time.

Q: What is your biggest cross-country goal you want to accomplish before you graduate high school, and how do you plan to achieve that goal?

A: I definitely want to keep working toward a state title. That’s always been a goal of mine since middle school. To try and reach my goal, I’m going to keep training hard as I always have.

Q: Do you have any rituals you go through before a cross-country meet?

A: The day before a meet, I always eat spaghetti. Sometimes we even have team meals where the whole team has dinner together; that is fun. Otherwise I do usually plug in my headphones before my race and just get in the zone for my race.

Q: Do you look up to any particular athletes? If so, why them?

A: She is not a professional athlete like you are probably thinking of, but one athlete I look up to is Lauren Herzog. She was a former teammate of mine and now runs cross-country at Viterbo University. She’s such a hard worker at everything she does and is nice to everyone she meets, which makes her a great person to look up to.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do when you are not in school or competing in a high school sport?

A: Any time I can spend with my friends is always the best. No matter what we’re doing, I always love being with them.

Q: Favorite TV show, movie, musical artist?

A: My favorite TV show is “Riverdale.” One of my favorite movies would probably have to be “Prefontaine,” and my favorite musical artist(s) is Dan and Shay.

Q: Name one thing about yourself that not many people know.

A: I have two younger sisters that are both cross-country runners. One will be joining me next year to take on her first year of high school running.