Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography
The women’s track and field program has been the most dominant team in the Summit League since joining the conference in 2008. The championship banners don’t lie. Fourteen combined indoor and outdoor championships over the past eight years tell you everything you need to know about the competitors NDSU attracts to its program. So it’s a surprise to hear one of their rising stars walked on to the program in 2013. From nearly quitting the sport she loves to calling it her escape from a busy 19-credit class schedule, Deidre Hahn tells us her story.
There’s no “I” in team, but there is in “Deidre.”
As a senior, Deidre Hahn was the lone representative from her school at the Minnesota State High School Track and Field meet. She won individual state titles in the long jump and high jump and placed second in the 200-meter and third in the 100-meter dash.
Hahn single-handedly carried Warroad to a first place tie at the women’s Class A state track and field meet with 42 points. To go along with a state banner, she also has her name beside 10 Warroad school records.
What’s surprising is that after a decorated high school career, Hahn walked on at NDSU. It was such a shock that most of her teammates didn’t even know.
During her freshman season, she finished fourth in the high jump and placed sixth in the heptathlon in the Summit League Outdoor Championship meet. After one year on campus, NDSU stepped to the plate and started paying for most of her education while she pursued her degree in pharmacy.[/text_output]
[image link=”true” src=”4233″ alt=”NDSU Bison women’s track and field Deidre Hahn”]
[text_output]Hahn was home in Warroad after her first year of college. One day she received a letter from NDSU. “I thought I was being drug tested or something,” laughed the third-year multi-event competitor. “I guess I didn’t even care anymore because I was enjoying track so much that I didn’t care if I got a scholarship or not. So when I got a letter in June saying that I was being awarded a scholarship amount, I was super excited.”
Hahn and her parents were ecstatic, especially after the journey she went through.
Hahn said she almost decided against running track in college to pursue her dream job in pharmacy, a field she shadowed while in high school.
“NDSU called me. I came for a couple short visits and I don’t know – it wasn’t that I didn’t like NDSU, I just thought I wanted to be done with track after high school,” Hahn said, explaining how her performance in the state track meet sparked more of an interest in the sport. “I called Ryun (Godfrey) and asked if I could still run and he’s like, ‘Yeah, we have a spot for you.’”
When Hahn first arrived at NDSU, she said she didn’t know where a small school runner like herself was going to stack up against Division I competition. It also didn’t help that she had to deal with an injury most of the season and take a redshirt her first indoor season.
But it only made her stronger, Hahn said.
“I think I improved as an athlete, but maybe it’s the mental part that, ‘You’re not going to win this race,’” Hahn said, explaining the hump she had to conquer before finding success in college. “You should hope that you are, but there are always other athletes out there that are better than you.”
And the notion that there’s always someone better than her is what motivates Hahn, along with the unyielding support from other athletes on the women’s track team.[/text_output]
[image link=”true” src=”4234″ alt=”NDSU Bison women’s track and field Deidre Hahn”]
[text_output]So what’s next for Hahn?
She doesn’t really know and laughed because women’s head coach Stevie Keller told her to write down her goals at the beginning of the season. When asked, Hahn paused and she glanced at the Top 10 list of record holders on the wall in the main entrance of the Shelly Ellig Indoor Track Facility and said, “It would be cool to get my name on the Top 10 list at a couple more events.”
Hahn’s name is already beside the best in NDSU history in the 60-meter indoor event, even though she’s only been eligible for one season. Aside from having the seventh fastest 60, she was also a part of an elite relay team.
Hahn, along with Morgan Milbrath, Melissa Kitching and Ashley Heinze ran in the 4×400- meter outdoor relay during the NCAA West Preliminaries in Austin, Texas, last May. The group ran the fourth-fastest 4×400 relay time in NDSU history with Hahn as the anchor, the spot traditionally reserved for the fastest runner.
“I was definitely the underdog,” admits Hahn, who hadn’t run a 400-meter race since ninth grade. “I’ve never been more nervous in my life for some of those races. Like when we ran at Notre Dame, I thought that was a lot of pressure, but when we got down to Texas, the atmosphere is pretty unbelievable down there.”
NDSU finished fourth in their heat and was eliminated. The learning experience was one Hahn won’t forget approaching her sophomore indoor season.
“I mean, my ultimate goal would be to someday, or one of these years – or all of them – to make it to regionals in an individual event,” Hahn adds.
However the season ends for Hahn, she knows her teammates will be there for support. After all, the tightly knit Bison have won 14 out of a possible 16 indoor and outdoor championships since joining the Summit League.
The Bison won’t need Hahn to carry them single-handedly to a championship, but Keller and Hahn’s teammates know she will play an integral role for three more years.[/text_output]