By Marissa Bartello
PLNU school history was made on March 18 for the women’s track and field team with first place finishes, records, and National Qualifying times. Two distance athletes, Alex Hernandez and Hannah Benoit Bucher, stood out as they hit the provisional mark for NCAA Division II Nationals, both ranking in the top ten for their respective events.
“Both girls raced consistent,” said head coach Jerry Arvin. “I was pleased how consistent their laps and times were. Hannah moved away the last 300 meters and the other girl couldn’t match her speed…. I was very happy with her race.”
Coach Arvin also talked about how impressive it was that Benoit Bucher had been ill and still broke a school record with a 4:31.93; it shows that there is definitely more potential to achieve a greater time.
“I felt very relaxed throughout the entire race and tried to enjoy the fact that I was racing on our beautiful track that looks over the ocean,” said Benoit Bucher. “When I started feeling the ache in my legs and the burn in my lungs, the encouragement of all my friends and family cheering me on helped me push through…. [it] distracted me from the pain of racing and kept my mind focused on the thrill of it.”
Benoit Bucher also said she is excited to see what happens next with this track season. “My teammates’ support and encouragement have tremendously impacted my racing success. I look forward to seeing how the team continues to improve throughout the season as we prepare for Conference.”
About the stellar performance from Alex Hernandez, Coach Arvin says, “She was consistent for the first two miles and then took the lead five laps into the 5000 meter race and ran by herself for the rest. She lost some consistency but finished strong.”
Hernandez achieved a personal best time by thirteen seconds with a time of 17:18, and finished three seconds off of the school record. “It felt so amazing,” said Hernandez. “I couldn’t even believe it! I definitely wasn’t expecting to PR by so much because it is still towards the beginning of the season. I really would have never guessed that I would hit the NCAA provisional mark for Nationals. I felt so happy knowing all the hard training at practice was paying off and it made me really excited for the future!”
Both Benoit and Hernandez say that hearing their friends cheering them on had helped during their races.
“Having so much support on the track and hearing my teammates and friends cheering me on helped tremendously,” said Hernandez. “Having my coach encouraging me ever lap and yelling my times out at me also really reassured me.”
Benoit Bucher and Hernandez are incredible athletes, and their teammates love to cheer and be inspired by what they have accomplished. “They are part of our good distance crew, Jordan, Josie, and the Bartello twins,” said Arvin. “Alex and Hannah set good examples for them.”