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Warriors Athlete of Week: Warriors’ Drietz a late-blooming success

Hannah Drietz didn't join cross-country until her junior year, but she's a quick study.

Girl running with her team.
Brainerd Warrior cross-country runner Hannah Drietz runs with her teammates Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, in the Northland Arboretum.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Hannah Drietz’s week started by running the second-fastest time ever for a Brainerd Warriors girls cross-country runner.

But that wasn’t the best part of the senior’s week.

Drietz posted a third-place 19:47.7 Saturday, Sept. 23, at the University of Minnesota’s Roy Griak Invitational. Drietz’s high finish helped the Warriors win the 50-team Maroon race by 34 points over second-place Perham. It’s the Brainerd girls' first win at the U of M Invite.

“We haven’t had too many people in the top 10 down there so she just ran a super race,” Warrior head coach Dave Herath said. “It was a fun race to just watch her.”

Herath didn’t give his senior any specific game plan to attack the course, but reminded her and her teammates about what happened last year.

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“Last year, they were all rookies and almost all rookies and went out a little bit soft and struggled to get around girls,” Herath. “She followed the game plan of getting out harder than maybe you’re used to. It’s a great meet with 500-plus runners so there is always somebody you can race. We talked about racing and not just running and racing who was around you and she did that in spades.”

Herath described the first mile as nothing major with a few rolling hills, but the second mile is nothing but uphills and downhills. Drietz agreed and said it was the hardest mile of the event. Herath said he’d never seen Dreitz look stronger, however.

“Coming out of the first 800 as I looped forward and we started stringing out more I felt like I still had more in me and I started picking up and other girls were falling off,” Drietz said. “It felt really good. I wasn’t keying off anybody, but I was trying to pick off the next girl ahead of me. I’d see a girl out in front of me so I just told myself to keep going and get to her. Slowly, I would get past them and then I’d pick the next girl out in front of me. Eventually, I just ran out of girls so I was pushing myself.”

Drietz said she didn’t expect to finish where she did or feel as good as she did afterward.

Now this year, every practice is a dog fight between them because they’re all really good and they’re all very self-motivated.
Dave Herath

She was followed by Katelyn Kennedy in 10th, Madi Miller in 15th, Brooke Wenz in 16th, Annelise Baird in 68th, Bridget Collins in 86th and Julia Rademacher in 160th.

“We do talk about stats as a team and we do talk about times,” Drietz said. “We do know where we stand. We know what we’re capable of, but we never talk about it as if it was a for sure thing. We know we have to earn our spot. We are very aware that we need to work hard.”

The Warriors have three seniors, a junior, two sophomores and a freshman and while expectations were high for this team, this team may have blossomed a year earlier than expected. Much of that progress can be attributed to Drietz first year on varsity.

“It wasn’t really the meets that were her main contribution to the team last year,” Herath said. “She works so stinking hard that she pulled the rest of the girls with her. At our banquet, every one of them said Hannah was the reason we had the improvement that we did because she was constantly pushing in those practices.

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“Last year, she spent a lot of her time, probably the middle part of the season, running with our guys. She just felt like that was something she needed to do. Now this year, every practice is a dog fight between them because they’re all really good and they’re all very self-motivated.”

Drietz ran a 19:32.7 to place second at the Rey Zimney Stampede Monday, Sept. 19, in Pierz. Brainerd finished second behind St. Cloud Cathedral. The time was a lifetime best for Drietz who didn’t come out for cross-country until her junior year.

“Everything that I’ve done this year I attribute to last year,” Drietz said. “I learned how to run a race. I learned how important training is and giving your body rest and how important it is to cross-train and how important it is to have good teammates.

“Last year was a big learning experience and it could not have served me better for this year.”

Drietz struggled to pull the trigger on going out for cross-country last season. Because of COVID-19, she picked up jogging with her mom. It was her mom who encouraged her to actually run. While running Drietz ran into a mother of a cross-country runner and encouraged her to try the sport.

She’s the second Warrior girl in the last six years to come out late to the sport and find success.

“It’s one sport where you can come out late to it and be successful,” Herath said. “It’s not a skill sport although we do talk about form and all that. It’s a sport that you can attract a kid with some innate ability, but who are self-motivated they can get themselves there. Emily (Rugloski) was the same way. She loved to run and just hadn’t discovered cross-country until (Former Brainerd girls track and field coach Howie Jacobs) got her to us. If you have a joy of doing something, with some ability, you can do this. The common denominator between Hannah and Emily is that they are both mentally tough kids. They’re good students. I wouldn’t say there is an advantage of joining late, it’s just that our sport can accommodate kids that see the light a little bit later.”

To start the season, Drietz placed 11th at Brainerd’s Run for the Melon Invite. She posted a 21:20.15 after battling a stress fracture during her summer training. Herath was confident his senior would be back in prime position by the middle of the season and he appears right. Drietz said she feels fantastic.

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“She had been training really, really well and cross-trained well when she was not able to run, but in some ways, and I wouldn’t say this about every kid, but maybe pulling the reins in a bit over the summer helped her at this point in the season,” Herath said. “Usually we want to have the kids coming in with 400 miles or so and she was probably half of that, but she seems fresh and really from Day One we slowly worked her back in because she finally had clearance on our first day of practice. For the last three weeks, she’s been running full bore and I think her legs are fresh and I think she’s feeling good about it. You combined confidence with fitness and good things happen.”

Drietz was fourth in the Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin Titan Invite Sept. 8. She ran a 20:12.75 to place behind teammates Miller and Kennedy as Brainerd placed first.

In the Section 8-3A Preview Sept. 16 in Bemidji, Drietz ran a second-place time of 19:52.2 to lead the Warriors to second place behind St. Michael-Albertville.

“A rookie doesn’t get third at the Griak meet,” Herath said. “She’s figured out so much and she’s still learning. She’s a smart girl. She loves to run. She loves to compete and she loves to win. I just really think she’s going to continue to blossom as fall progresses.”

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

Hannah Drietz

Hannah Drietz
Hannah Drietz

Sport: Cross-country

Year: Senior

Age: 17

Height: 5-foot-9

Career highlight: Placing third at the University of Minnesota’s Roy Griak Invitational

Other sports: Track and field

Grade-point average: 4.0

Favorite class: Mathematical reasoning

Favorite food: Peanut butter

Favorite movie: “A Few Good Men”

Favorite TV show: “The Partner Track”

Favorite website or app: Pinterest

Favorite restaurant: Rafferty’s Pizza

Future plans: Hoping to run collegiately

Favorite athlete: Allie Ostrander

Parents: Steven and Lisa Drietz

Other notable performances

Paige Yeager, girls soccer, finished with two goals and an assist against Fergus Falls.

Emma Balsley, girls soccer, finished with a goal and two assists against Fergus Falls.

Nick Holmberg, boys soccer, finished with two goals against Alexandria and two goals against Bemidji, including the game-winner.0

Kate Stadum, volleyball, finished with 33 kills, 37 digs, nine ace serves and four blocks at the Duluth East Tournament.

Damien Bentho, football, rushed for 227 yards and two touchdowns on 44 carries in a win against Bemidji.

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