KOKOMO, Ind. — Cross country athlete Hannah Wells concluded her season with a strong finish in the national championship Friday (November 17) in Vancouver, Washington.
Wells, a junior exercise science major, placed 182nd in a field of 351 in the 44th annual NAIA women’s cross country national championships, held at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Championship Course.
Wells and her coaches, Josh Colvin and Jordan Fivecoate, arrived Monday to prepare for Friday’s race. Teammate Joy McDivitt also accompanied her for support. In addition to having access to the championship course, they visited Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, the Nike Complex, and Multnomah Falls at the Columbia River Gorge. They also visited a local school as part of the NAIA’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) about the Champions of Character program.
“It truly meant the world to me to be here,” she said. “At nationals, the best of the best are in the race, and keeping a good mentality throughout it was my biggest plan. It was a big competition, and I worked on keeping a positive attitude.”
It was the end of a season of great accomplishments for Wells, an Indianapolis resident who transferred to IU Kokomo from an NCAA Division II school this year.
She qualified for the national meet by winning the River States Conference championship — the first conference championship, individual or team, won by either IU Kokomo cross country team. She led the women’s team to a third-place finish of 12 teams. She also was named RSCS Runner of the Year, RSC Newcomer of the Year, first team all-conference, and received the Champion of Character Award.
“I knew throughout my childhood that I was blessed with athletic ability, but to win a college competition meant all my hard work paid off,” she said. “It brought me a lot of joy to have such an awesome accomplishment.”
She added that she was not the favorite to win the conference title.
“I knew there were really good runners in our conference,” she said. “It felt good to bring it home for IU Kokomo. It was an awesome feeling.”
Colvin said he had great expectations for Wells.
“We knew she was going to come in here and make a statement,” he said. “We knew she was going to make our team better. With her hard work and how she carries herself, our athletes see that she’s a leader. She leads by example because she knows what it takes to be successful in this sport.”
Wells will be back in action for the Cougars for the indoor track and field season this winter, and outdoor track and field in the spring.
“She puts the work in every day,” Colvin said. “Hannah is a great student as well. She’s doing all the right things. She has just really uplifted her team in a lot of ways.”