The heptathlon is two days of running, jumping, and throwing. It should be enough for anyone. But not Anna Hall. Like many multi-eventers, Anna can compete in individual events besides the Hep. Now, Anna chooses the 400-meter hurdles, that little bit of sadism where one combines the lactic build-up of the 400 meters and then adds ten hurdles.
Elias Esquival wrote this piece on the Heptathlon, and he did a fine job. He also wrote on the decathlon as well. Elias must like that whole multi-event thing. Thanks again to Professor Lori Shontz, who has managed her wonderful team of young writers to cover the NCAA Champs for RunBlogRun.
Anna Hall collapsed after the 800m in the heptathlon, which she won. In between, Anna took 2nd in the 400m hurdles, June 11, 2022, photo by Kevin Neri / SOJC Track Bureau
By Elias Esquivel
SOJC Track Bureau
Florida’s Anna Hall had to get through one more event before being officially crowned the NCAA heptathlon champion on Saturday afternoon at Hayward Field. While the other heptathletes were enjoying a few hours of rest, Hall had a 400-meter hurdle final to run.
She won silver, and then about 25 minutes later, she lined up for the 800 meters. As soon as she crossed the finish line, she collapsed.
Hall’s eyes were closed, and she was sprawled on her back in exhaustion. Someone checked on her, sitting her up. After a few minutes, she stood to applause from the Hayward Field crowd.
Some waves. Some smiles. All in a day’s work for Hall, the NCAA heptathlon champion, who finished with 6,385 points. She now holds three of the top seven heptathlon scores in NCAA history.
“This year has been amazing,” said Hall. “It means a lot. It just makes that double worth it that our team was able to come out on top.”
Hall, who qualified for the World Athletics Championships by winning the USATF Combined Events Championships, entered the NCAAs as the overwhelming favorite in the heptathlon and with the second-fastest time in the country for the 400-meter hurdles. She rattled off three personal bests and two season bests en route to gold in the heptathlon.
Her personal bests came in the 100-meter hurdles, 13.15 seconds; the shot put, 44 feet, 5¼ inches; and the 200 meters, 23.13.
In the 400-meter hurdles, Hall left the semifinals with the field’s best time. She ran a personal best of 54.48 seconds, breaking her own school record and cracking the top 15 on the NCAA’s all-time list. She finished second in the final in 54.76, behind winner Britton Wilson of Arkansas, who ran 53.86.
It’s been a remarkable past 11 months for Hall, who broke her foot and suffered torn ankle ligaments after tripping over a hurdle during the Olympic Trials last year. She required surgery, hoping to be ready to go once the indoor season arrived. For three months afterward, she said, she couldn’t bear weight on her foot — she could only rehab while swimming and doing cable rows to stay fit.
Ten weeks after Hall’s surgery, she began to walk again. Soon after, Hall began working out on everything she could without being cleared. Then she ran on the ground for the first time, leading to a slow return to training.
Even after Hall was healthy again, she still doubted herself and her foot. She said she had to relearn to trust both. If any of this process sounds challenging, it’s because it is, but anyone who knows Hall knows that she loves challenges.
She looks forward to the 800 meters because it’s the last event of the heptathlon and only rewards grit. When she first arrived at Georgia, Hall asked around what the hardest major to get into was — it was finance, so naturally, it was what Hall pursued, according to David Whitley of Gator Sports.
Hall isn’t sure where the competitive spirit comes from, but she thinks it may have developed in her youth, being the third of four daughters, constantly trying to outperform one another. Her parents agree.
“That’s kind of been her personality from day one,” said her mom, Ronette.
“Trying to catch up with big sisters on things — all activities,” added her dad, David.
David and Ronette were in the stands Saturday morning, braving the early downpour to watch their daughter compete. Hayward Field might have been nearly empty, but the shouts from her dad, who played football and basketball at Michigan, could be heard from anywhere on the track.
They were there for Hall throughout her recovery, and Ronette admitted she was scared for her daughter the first time she competed for post surgery. Those feelings aren’t around as much anymore, but Hall discussed how crucial her parents were during her comeback.
“They were so supportive,” said Hall. “Just so consoling and loving on me that summer when I was in a very dark place for a few weeks.”
Apart from her parents, Hall relied heavily on her faith.
“The moment I hit the track at Olympic Trials, I was just like, ‘OK. This is part of my story,” said Hall. “I think this is part of the story that God is trying to use me to tell.”
It takes a different type of person to accomplish some of the feats Hall has, especially when part of their off-season is dedicated to walking again. Someone who dares to believe in themselves, with enough instilled self-belief to stay the course. This season, Hall can thank her coaches for aiding those beliefs.
“It definitely comes from my coaches,” said Hall. “Just seeing the way that they believed in me through my injury and even when things weren’t going right. They’re always like, ‘Do you know who you are? Like, you don’t know how good you are,’ — things like that.”
Even with the self-belief, Hall admits she constantly worries she’s regressing. However, it’s not so much a hindrance, but rather constant motivation, as she says the concern pushes her. Balancing doubt with confidence can be difficult, but Hall seems to have it figured out.
“In the meets, once the lights turn on, I feel like that’s when I’m like, ‘OK, it’s go time,'” said Hall. “I feel like I can outcompete anybody.”