Athlete of the week: Anna Haugen, Elk River, cross country: Endurance

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Anna Haugen is not a headliner type, never the star of any of her many Elk teams. But this endurance athlete is on pace to earn 16 letters, has made all-conference in all three sports, and has run in six state meets, so far, with her senior year to go.

“You need people like Anna Haugen to have a really good team,” said Mike Niziolek, cross country coach.

Haugen has lettered since seventh grade in track and CC, and since ninth grade in Nordic ski. The 5-5, 118-pound harrier been all-NWSC in cross country twice, track three times and skiing once.

Anna Haugen is on pace to finish with 16 letters, and has made all-conference in three sports. (Photo by Michelle Haugen)

In distance running, sometimes girls slow down in their later teens even if they train hard, but Haugen is running as strongly as ever.

“Anna has really ‘upped’ her game this year,” said Niziolek, “in terms of some intense summer training, and having more confidence in her ability to run a race. She had a great first season in 2009 on the state championship team. I think she was oblivious to the sport then, just having fun, like many young girls are, but she really ‘gets it’ now.”

The only senior in the top six, with two eighth-graders, two freshmen and a sophomore, Haugen has been second on the team in four meets and is No. 3 when the Elks are at full strength. It’s a good team, with three invitational wins, fourth-place among 49 teams at the Griak maroon race, and first the conference meet Thursday.

Her times have been in the 16:30s in most meets, as low as 15:53 on a less challenging Apollo course. Her all-time best was 15:43 at Anoka in ninth grade.

Haugen remembers when she was one of the sprites herself.

“Jane Kallemeyn was my ‘big sister’ then,” said Haugen. “This year, I’m so close to (the young runners). I don’t think of them as little runners. They’re some of my  best friends. I just adore them. They’re so funny.”

Asked what’s been her highlights so far, the cheery, enthusiastic youth rattled off one from each sport.

“In 2009 going to state in cross country, and we won! That was just too crazy. And in the 4-by-4 in ninth grade at state when we got sixth place, and we weren’t even in the top nine (coming in). In skiing, just learning how to ski in ninth grade when I went out, and being such a fish out water, so used to running up hills, not skiing up hills, and finding out it was so much fun!”

Haugen ran on the state champion team in 2009 and fourth-place team in 2010, placing 66th  and 75th respectively among 160 runners. In track she’s gone to state in 4-by-800 in ninth and 11th, and open 800 and 4-by-400 in 10th grade.

She got on the medal stand in 2011 with Logan Daulton, Lindsey Lowe and Abby McDonald, placing  sixth in the 4-by-400 with a school record 4:00.45. She’s also an Elk record-holder in 4-by-800  with 9:36.72 and is fourth in the 800 with 2:21.38.

She’s been part of two conference CC titles and helped the tracksters win conference, section and true-team section three years each. In CC she has placed 23rd, 17th,  28th and 32nd in conference, and 14th, 16th and 23rd in section.

Haugen let us in on one secret about girl runners. “Girls are mean!” she said. “Especially in relays. They push and shove and throw elbows!” (She refrains from that  herself, fearful of DQ’ing.)

Competing hard throughout the school year, Haugen takes two weeks off between each season. Active as she is, she has mixed feelings about those breaks. “The first week is, ‘Aaaahh! Relaxation!’ But the second week is, ‘Ooohhh! I’m  getting so out of shape!”

THE HAUGEN SCORECARD

Anna Haugen

Personal file — Age: 17 … Family: parents, Chris and Michelle; brother, Joe, 19 … Sports: cross country, Nordic ski, track … Other activities: National Honor Society, Link Crew … Academics: 3.875 GPA … College plans: undecided where, marketing, running

Favorite stuff — Classes: DECA, AP statistics … TV show: “Grey’s Anatomy” … Movies: the Harry Potter series … Reading: Harry Potter, Runner’s World magazine … Food: ice cream, mashed potatoes, chicken … Drink: water … Team: Twins … Athletes: Anna Pierce, Kara Goucher … .Would like to visit: Australia

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