NORTH MANCHESTER – Hannah Wappes is Manchester University’s first indoor sub 5:00-miler, a member of the cross country program’s all-time top 10 fastest clockings in the 6K, and an individual ranked among the Black and Gold’s best ten outdoors in the 400, 800 and 1500 meters.

To think … all of this quite possibly could not have happened.

Up until her high school athletic career, Wappes kept herself involved on the soccer fields. It wasn’t until her freshman year that she was asked to try and track and field by Columbia City High School head coach Bob Fahl.

“In the beginning, it was mostly just sprint races,” Wappes said with a grin. “(Coach Fahl) was one of my teachers, and he kept talking to me about increasing the distances I ran, and eventually he spoke to me about trying cross country before my junior year.

“It was very rare for anyone to do two sports (in the fall). Fortunately, the athletic director agreed to it. (The opportunity) was great … everyone worked together to ensure I could do this. I was blessed.”

Manchester University Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Brian Cashdollar and head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach Geoff Lambert are thankful for Fahl’s sage advice being heeded by Wappes. It led to the aforementioned accolades in the Spartans’ programs and enabled an impressive run of indoor national track and field appearances to continue this weekend at the Birmingham SportPlex in Birmingham, Ala.

A large scale of the sophomore’s success can be seen in her personality … cheerful, smiling and always willing to help others.

“The people I’ve been able to be around (during my athletic career) are why I enjoy doing this,” Wappes admitted. “From Coach Fahl to the coaches at Manchester University, my hometown and here on campus … everyone is so supportive. My parents have been behind me throughout, too. It’s been amazing.

“Running allows me to chase myself and set bigger goals each time (I compete. The team component is there, too. If I’m doing my best, it’s what’s best (for the team). There’s been a learning curve from competing in the 800 to the mile (in college). I struggled a little with the shorter distance, so (Coach Cashdollar) talked about having me try the mile. It gives me more chances to fix things (in the race).”

That yearning for knowledge, competitive spirit and willingness to lend a hand has helped her grow off the course and track, too.

“Self accountability is important (to me),” Wappes. “I’ve always told myself ‘You have to get good grades to be able to participate in sports’ from middle school on up.

“Someday, I’d like to work with children (and aid in their successes). I’m hoping to be a guidance counselor and possibly coach, too.”

Setting new standards in athletics and life … both areas Hannah Wappes enjoys success in.