ALABAMA CROSS COUNTRY RUNNER PUSHES HERSELF ON AND OFF THE FIELD

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By WVUA 23 Sports Reporter Jenn LaMonica

University of Alabama athletes are driven to succeed on the field, but they’re also motivated in the classroom. A perfect example? Women’s cross country star Hannah Waggoner, who’s gone from a walk-on freshman to Alabama’s No. 1 cross country runner — all the while working on her bachelor’s and master’s in mechanical engineering.

Waggoner said she spent most of her life playing tennis, but made the transition to track when she came to college.

“I started running my senior year (of high school),” she said. “Just to kind of get in shape and get better for tennis. … When I started I wasn’t good at all. Didn’t know a lot of the terms, didn’t know where to stand on the track to start.”

Getting accustomed to a new sport takes time, but there’s something else that pulled Waggoner to the university. Taking after her father, she’s working on becoming a mechanical engineer — a degree that requires a heavy class load.

“When I was 14, my dad and I took apart an engine,” she said. “And I absolutely loved it. I’ve always loved cars and have always wanted to go into the automotive industries.”

Alabama offers countless resources inside Bryant Academic Hall so athletes like Waggoner can stay on top of their studies.

“She definitely takes advantage of being able to meet with the tutors and assisting her with her classes,” said academic program adviser Heather Anders.

“They can keep you on track, help with your schedule,” Waggoner said. “I did that a lot my freshman and sophomore year. Because transition’s hard, even if you’re not an athlete.”

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