* Montgomery's Hanne Thomsen leads the CIF Division III girls race on Saturday
Photo Credit: DeAnna Turner/California MileSplit
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FRESNO, Ca. -- Hanne Thomsen secured herself a CIF-State Cross Country Division III title on Saturday, winning on the Woodward Park soil over 5,000 meters in a respectable 17:10.2.
It's not the fastest time she's had on the popular Central California course -- that came when she won the ASICS Clovis Invitational girls sweepstakes race in 17:04.20 back in 2022.
But it does remind us that the Santa Rosa Montgomery (NC) junior has developed quite an affinity for, and built a solid resume at, Woodward Park. Saturday's state championship win marked Thomsen's third straight Division III title, the most ever by a California female runner in this division.
"My first state title is really special and it is still one of my favorite races," she said. "I feel I ran it so smart. And being a freshman, no one ever expects that.
Thomsen won her second title last year despite not feeling well. On Saturday, Thomsen once again mentioned that she spent part of this past week not feeling great, either, but maybe it was Woodward Park that once again provided the best medicine.
"I'm so relieved," she said. "I got sick earlier this week and it made me think, 'I don't know if I can do this.' But I was able to bounce back, doing okay, and telling myself to 'trust your training.'"
She got out ahead of the large group at the start and took charge. Still, there was "pressure" that only Thomsen could sense given her past successes.
"I was pushing alone and that was kind of hard," she said. "I tried to hit the second mile hard, but I might have hit it too hard because I died on the last mile."
It likely prevented her from going under 17 minutes, but the end result was still Thomsen's best time in the state final -- she went 17:12.77 last year and 17:38 her freshman year. Once again, she showed she can overcome challenges to achieve success.
"I'm proud of myself for pushing it to win again," she said. "I'm actually not feeling that bad now."
A third straight state title win enables Thomsen to break out of a four-way tie with Carrie Verdon of Campolindo (two, 2010-11), Del Oro's Riley Chamberlain (two, 2018-19) and fellow Montgomery standout Sara Bei, who had two Division III titles in 1997 and 1998.
Bei, however, kept on winning as the program moved to Division II, and Bei impressively won two more titles in 1999 and 2000. Her four state titles ties her with Simi Valley's Sarah Baxter, who won Division I titles in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and a Division II title in 2013.
Next year at this time, Thomsen could be joining that exclusive club, one that gives her a goal that no other current female runner in California can attain. But equally important to Thomsen is that she isn't running alone at state.
Photo Credit: DeAnna Turner/MileSplit
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Montgomery's team made it to the state meet last year for the first time in several years and finished seventh. On Saturday, the team finished 11th.
Thomsen did her part and she's hoping that the team that ran with five juniors and two sophomores can blossom as a senior-laden team next fall. Obviously, the question Thomsen will soon get most often is if she'll win a fourth straight title.
"It's crazy that I've been able to win three state titles," she said. "I'm really happy, but I knew that after winning the first two, there's pressure on you to do it again."
Maybe after winning three titles, perhaps a better question is who can be the one to stop her from winning a fourth?
Montgomery juniors Seela Kittelstrom and Amrie Lacefield were fifth and eighth overall, a sign that perhaps some of Thomsen's best competition in 2024 might be those who practice alongside her.