Love of Running Helps Bond Family

  • By Alyssa Casalino
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  • October 10, 2012 11:58 AM
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When meeting a college athlete, it’s interesting to get to know about their past regarding sports. Whether they had a favorite athlete growing up or their parents introduced them to a sport, it is fun to hear about their first involvement.

Some athletes follow in their parents footsteps. Sometimes, it’s the other way around.

For West Virginia senior Jordan Hamric, running cross country has been such a big part of her and her sisters’ lives that her parents started running, essentially following their daughters’ footsteps.

“My older cousin ran cross country in high school, that’s why my sister started,” Hamric said about keeping it in the family. “My whole family runs now. My mom and dad run marathons; I think my dad’s done about fourteen. They started running after we got involved.

“We’re a running family now.”

The running trend in her immediate family began with her sister, Karly, who ran track and cross country at WVU in recent years. Jordan had her hands full with sports in high school, but the choice to do cross country in college had much to do with her sister’s choice.

At Preston High in Kingwood, W.Va., Hamric was a talented and dedicated soccer player.

“I started playing soccer in first grade and I played all the way up until my senior year in high school,” Hamric noted. “In the fall, I played soccer and ran cross country. In the winter, I played indoor soccer and in the spring, I played club soccer for Morgantown.”

Although she displayed an obvious love for soccer, Hamric had watched her sister excel in cross country. She was starting to turn into a recognizable cross country athlete herself. By her junior year, coach Sean Cleary had started recruiting her for WVU’s team. Hamric said this served as additional motivation to continue running through college. It was difficult to drop soccer, but her cross country improvement, along with her family influence made this the right choice.

The Bruceton Mills native was named all-state in cross country her senior year and was a state champion as a junior. She was well-prepared for the challenges she would face at the collegiate level. Unfortunately, an injury put her college career on hold.

“The summer after my freshman year, I got a stress fracture in my right tibia and I wasn’t able to run for three months,” Hamric explained. “I was lucky that it was in the summer. I cross-trained in the mean team; I was biking and swimming every day.

“Unfortunately, I had to miss the following cross country season my sophomore year. I didn’t race as a freshman either because I was redshirted. So, I actually didn’t complete a college cross country race until I was a junior.”

Hamric didn’t let the time off discourage her and when she started at the college level, it was like she never stopped. She was in shape and ready to compete. She mentions her sister as an inspiration in this sense; Karly started at the bottom and worked her way up to eventually become an All-American.

“I always think to myself, ‘If she could do it, so can I.’”

That kind of motivation has helped her to get to where she is today. Although the season is still in progress, Hamric can look back on it and recall a few defining moments in her career that really made it worthwhile. When she starting running again, Hamric was part of the top seven girls on her team to compete at cross country nationals in November 2011. She said there was nothing quite like getting that offer and taking advantage of that opportunity.

“I never would have imagined I would be toeing the line with the greatest collegiate cross country athletes in the nation at the start of my WVU career,” Hamric recalled. “Racing at NCAA cross is an experience that I will never forget. I think that it has helped me to become a better runner.”

Last week, Hamric was able to add another standout moment to her college portfolio. She was named WVU’s Student Athlete of the Week for her performance in the Blue Race at the Greater Louisville Cross Country Classic. It was the last 5K she would run at WVU and she went out with a bang as West Virginia placed first, and Hamric was first on the team. She also broke her personal best time.

“I broke my record by 22 seconds,” Hamric said. “I’ve wanted to break that 18-minute barrier and I finally did, so it was a pretty big deal for me.”

Even though her years may have seemed limited due to redshirting and injuries, Hamric has had a very impressive career at WVU. To this day, she serves as a leader on the team, especially while standout athletes Sarah-Anne Brault and Kaitlyn Gillespie are injured.

“It’s a bit of pressure for sure,” Hamric said on stepping up for her team. “Kaitlyn is an All-American and Sarah’s close to it. It’s a lot to live up to, but I’m ready for the challenge.”

In May 2013, Hamric will graduate from West Virginia University with a degree in exercise physiology. She applied to several optometry schools this past August and has been accepted into two of them. It’s an exciting experience for her, as she admits that she’s never really been far from home. She will choose from schools in Ohio, Tennessee and Oregon, and her ultimate goal is to start up a private practice as an optometrist.

The cross country team will compete next at Pre-Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky on Oct. 13.

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