This is the time of year when Sanne Holland makes so much improvement at state track that one wonders if she were running in quicksand during the regular season.
The Cheney senior took nearly 20 seconds off her season best last year when she won the State 2A championship in the 3,200 meters in a meet record time of 10 minutes, 48.40 seconds.
When the state meet begins a three-day run today at Mt. Tahoma High School in Tacoma, Holland will have her eyes set on a three-peat in the longest distance race.
She’d also like to win her first state title in the 1,600.
Holland – who owns Cheney’s records in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 – is making her fourth trip in the 1,600 and 3,200.
Like the three previous years, Holland heads to state largely unchallenged this season.
“The only thing is she hasn’t had the chance to run against girls like Katie Knight (of North Central) enough,” Cheney girls coach Tom Stralser said.
Holland isn’t complaining.
“I’ve run consistent times in the season, none of them super fast,” she said. “Then I get to state and run much better times.”
Holland marvels that she’s become the caliber of runner she is today. After all, her parents got her started running in kindergarten as a way to calm her down.
“It’s a funny story,” Holland said. “When I was young I was a really high-energy kid. They wanted to find an outlet for my energy. So they signed me up for the local track club in Cheney.”
It wasn’t until middle school that Holland began to realize that running was growing on her.
“At first it was just a social event,” she said. “It was a chance to hang out with friends at meets on the weekends. Around sixth grade I started doing more summer running and Junior Olympic meets. I started pulling some pretty good times. That’s when I started taking it more seriously.”
Fast-forward six years and Holland has signed to compete in track and cross country at Colorado State University. She picked CSU over offers from Boise State, Northern Arizona, Eastern Washington and Western State Colorado.
She’s made a name for herself in the 2A ranks. In cross country, she took third at state as a freshman, third as a sophomore, fourth as a junior and runner-up last fall.
Holland has earned a pair of state medals each year in track. But a state title has eluded her in the 1,600.
She wants to be a double winner this weekend.
“That would be a fantastic way to end my high school career,” Holland said.
Stralser knows Holland will give it all she has, to be sure.
“When she gets on the track her competitive nature goes up a couple of degrees,” he said. “She doesn’t like to lose.”
Chris Hammer took over this year as the Blackhawks’ distance coach. Something became apparent immediately to Hammer.
“She’s a gamer,” Hammer said. “When it’s time to race you know you’re going to get her best effort. She’s probably the gutsiest runner I’ve seen. Once it’s race day you’ll get a different Sanne than the one you’ll see in a dual meet or a workout.”
Holland ranks third in 2A in both races. Her season bests in the 1,600 (5:09.62) and 3,200 (11:12.90) trail the top times by a little more than 3 seconds and 9 seconds in the events, respectively.
She wants to post her first sub-5-minute 1,600 and run in the high 10:30s or low 10:40s in the 3,200.
“We’re confident she’s got more in the tank than she’s shown so far,” Stralser said. “If she runs against competition she’ll run her best.
“What’s so impressive about her is she’s as good of a sportsman as she is a competitor. She’s a good distance runner, but she’s a better person.”