Athlete Profile: Derek Hanson

Gillett senior runner ready to put exclamation mark on career

The Gillett Secondary School cross-country teams have enjoyed tons of success over the past few years. Derek Hanson has been at the center of the accomplishments of the boys team, and is looking to cap his high school career with another big season this fall.

Hanson made it to state for the first time as a sophomore, doing so as an individual a couple weeks after claiming the top spot in the first-ever Marinette & Oconto Conference Meet.

Hanson placed second at the conference meet last fall, then placed third at sectionals to help the boys team qualify for state. He placed 48th at state.

The senior has gotten his final season off to a strong start, pacing the boys team in its first two meets. Hanson finished ninth at the Two Rivers Invitational on Aug. 27 before winning the Goodman-Pembine Invitational on Sept. 3.

Q: When did your interest in cross-country begin?

A: My interest began at a young age, around 7, during a program called Kids for Running. We would meet up after school and train for the Bellin Run 10K in Green Bay. After years of training for the Bellin, cross-country was like second nature to me.

Q: What is your favorite part about the cross-country season?

A: My favorite part about cross-country is the close team atmosphere that each team has. It’s a bit more apparent in cross-country that each person wants to work hard and see each other succeed. It’s a very positive atmosphere to be around in both training and competition.

Q: What kind of individual goals have you set for yourself this fall?

A: The goals I’ve set this fall are a bit different due to the current health pandemic. I would like to be in the top 10 at the state championships, but I’m not sure if the state meet is going to happen this year. If it does not, getting a shiny new PR (personal record) and signing to play collegiate sports would certainly be a goal I would like to achieve.

Q: As a senior, how will you help serve as a leader for the rest of the team?

A: I’m planning to continue being someone for the younger runners to look up to, continue using my knowledge of running to help prevent some common mistakes new runners make, and showing them that they can achieve what they put their minds to.

Q: Talk about your preparation for the season and what it takes to become a strong cross-country runner.

A: My preparation for cross-country this year built off my training from the track workouts sent to me during quarantine, as well as a base phase before cross-country season.

To become a strong cross-country runner, an aerobic base is extremely important. Before I learned the science behind training, I would be running my easy days well above my lactate threshold. Aerobic conditioning is 80% of your training, so making sure you do it correctly is very important. Besides the science, however, discipline and consistency in your training are the two most important concepts in my eyes.

Q: What’s your favorite memory of competing on the Gillett cross-country team?

A: My favorite memory with the team would definitely be last year when both the boys and girls teams won sectionals to qualify for state. That was the first year we’ve ever even had a full team, and to make it that far was amazing. I hope to have a similar experience this year.

Q: Favorite TV show, movie and musical artist?

A: TV show — “Love, Victor.” Movie — “The Heat.” Musical artist — Cardi B.

Q: Name one thing about yourself that not many people know.

A: One thing about me that not many people know is that I dislike the taste of both chocolate and bacon!

Q: What’s the greatest piece of advice you have ever been told?

A: The greatest advice I’ve ever been given was that ‘nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.’ It’s a simple, yet powerfully true statement. If it’s easy to do, it probably won’t make that big of an impact on your life.

Q: What are some things you hope to accomplish after graduating high school?

A: I hope to have already signed a national letter of intent to run collegiately at the Division 2 level (by the time he graduates high school). I also hope to major in either pre-med or sports medicine/exercise science at the college I am running at. After that, I hope to continue my education with medical school and residency to eventually become a physiatrist or sports medicine physician.

AT A GLANCE

Athlete: Derek Hanson

Sport: Cross-country

School: Gillett Secondary School

Year: Senior