While the majority of Macalester students were looking forward to a well-earned break from classes and extracurriculars as classes wrapped up for the start of the spring break on March 9, one member of the Women’s Track team was in Birmingham, Alabama, suiting up to compete against the nation’s best. Hannah Sonsalla ’18, a Macalester record holder in two individual indoor events, one indoor relay, two Individual outdoor events and two outdoor relays, qualified for the Division III National Championships in the 400 meter dash after shattering her own school record running at Wartburg the weekend before.
When she squared up to the finest Division III has to offer, Sonsalla’s race did not go as she would have hoped, finishing 17th, last of the qualifiers. She was unable to match her record-breaking time of 57.57 seconds, completing the 400 in 1:00 flat. Despite that, she had an incredible experience at Nationals.
“Track Nationals for me was intimidating just because I didn’t know what to expect. It’s the best of the NCAA. I’m just grateful that my last collegiate indoor track race was one I’ll always remember. It was an honor, and I’m thankful every time I think about it. The experience was unparalleled — I got to watch so many remarkable athletes excel at their events and witness numerous athletes set new national records,” Sonsalla said.
It was always going to be hard for her to try and recreate the performance at the Wartburg Qualifier. Running with a last chance to qualify for Nationals, Sonsalla set a new school record of 57.57 seconds in the 400 meters. That race came just a week after she’d broken the school record in the same event at the MIAC Championship, and forced her to run an almost perfect race to qualify for Nationals.
“I knew that I could run a sub-58 in the 400,” she said. “But it’s not just being able to run that time, it’s about being able to run that time on the right day and have the right strategy and the confidence to do it. At the end of my race at Wartburg, I didn’t even know what time I had ran until my coach came and told me. When I heard my time, I had a pretty good feeling that it would be enough to make it to Nationals. We didn’t find out until the next day, but when I saw my name in the top 17 I was beyond excited.”
It will be hard to top competing at Nationals. However, Sonsalla’s race is not yet done. The Scots are back preparing for the outdoor season, which will officially get underway on April 7. She feels that after a strong indoor season, Macalester has another gear to reach.
“Coming off of the exciting momentum of indoor track has our team really fired up to move into the outdoor season and take our performances to the next level. The bar is already high. However I believe that the best is still yet to come for our teams in the months ahead. We always want to do well at the end of February, but the ultimate goal is to compete hard in May at outdoor conference,” Sonsalla said.
On the road to competing at the outdoor Conference, she may well find herself in the record books once again. In 2017, Sonsalla broke outdoor records in the 100 and 200 meter dashes as well as running on the record-breaking 4×100 meter relay team. Regardless of what comes of her final outdoor season, Sonsalla is certain she’ll never forget the memories made while running at Macalester.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to completely sum up my experience running track at Mac. But what I do know is that I’m going to remember the people – my coaches and teammates — that have profoundly shaped and impacted my journey here at Mac,” Sonsalla said. “The love I have for the track team and the work we have all put in have been the defining characteristics of my experience at Macalester and will continue to be a reminder of the many great accomplishments I have shared with my coaches, teammates and larger Mac Track family.”